Easton jailed over sledgehammer protest

Lack of community work Easton's downfall

Last updated 05:00 07/11/2013
The Dominion Post

Activist Benjamin Easton was arrested after bringing traffic to a standstill when he smashed parts of Victoria St with a sledgehammer in June 2010. Video by Amanda Fisher.

benjamin easton
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
HAMMER TIME: Benjamin Easton took a sledgehammer to parts of the intersection of Victoria and Manners Sts in 2010.

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Activist Benjamin Easton reached the end of the line over his sledgehammer protest in the Wellington CBD when he was jailed for not doing the original sentence.

Wellington District Court judge Bill Hastings warned Easton at the start of the hearing yesterday that it was the day he would be sentenced. Easton has had multiple remands for a number of reason, including an unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court.

In 2011, Easton, 53, was given 80 hours community work by Judge Bruce Davidson after being found guilty on two charges of endangering public safety and disorderly behaviour.  

Easton did only five hours. Community Probation applied to have him resentenced.

Judge Hastings said Easton did not accept his guilt and was unlikely to comply with any community sentence.

''Which leaves me with little option,' he told Easton yesterday.

He jailed him for two months.

Easton had wanted either a conviction and discharge or to be found not guilty.  

He attempted to persuade Judge Hastings that his protest back in 2010 - at buses being allowed though Manners Mall - was necessary. ''Someone had to do something, so I did it.  The road is unsafe,'' he said.

He maintained he had new evidence based on bylaws that the roads were too narrow which made the original ruling of his guilt incorrect.

As he was being led to the court cells he told the judge he had just shut down Streeties, an initiative Easton runs to help people move and give goods to those in need.

The judge told him that he did not doubt the good work Easton did with Streeties.

Earlier this week Easton lost an appeal to the High Court that he should get the unemployment benefit despite not looking for paid work.

Easton had contended his frequent litigation and activism were in the public interest and that he should be paid for his services."

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