Man jailed for offensive behaviour

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 09:00 08/02/2014

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A Palmerston North man who once urinated in the returns slot at the library has been sent to jail for flashing his genitals at museum visitors and Christmas shoppers.

Benjamin Miles Kohu Peita, 35, has a history of offensive behaviour towards both people and inanimate objects.

He was fined $300 last year for urinating in the Palmerston North library's returns slot. Before then, he admitted assaulting a man and threatening a bouncer outside a pub on separate occasions.

He has been unable to stay out of trouble though, and was back in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday for sentencing on two counts of offensive behaviour and one of being in a dwelling unlawfully.

On November 18 he was in Te Manawa, where he decided to show off his genitals to a mother and her daughter. After pleading guilty for that charge, he was bailed.

But on December 6, he was up to the same behaviour. He was seen by several people walking through The Plaza shopping centre with his penis exposed.

Some members of the public thought he was masturbating, but others told police Peita was touching himself, but not in a sexual way.

On a separate occasion, police found Peita in a garage near a building which was being repaired. He had no reason to be there and was arrested and charged for being unlawfully in a building.

Lawyer Richard Bedford said Peita had been squatting in the garage when police found him, as he had no fixed address to stay at.

He had a history of mental health problems and lacked basic social skills and support, Mr Bedford said.

While a sentence of imprisonment was likely, Peita's release conditions would be essential to keeping him from offending again, he said.

Judge Gregory Ross said the offending in Te Manawa was "obscene", but the incident in The Plaza was worse because of him being on bail when it happened, where it took place and the time of year.

"Bail is not given to people for them to reoffend.

"This was the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and there would have been a large number of shoppers.

"I think there would be nowhere else in Palmerston North where an action of this kind could give so much offence as a place like The Plaza."

Peita's offending had the risk of escalating into indecent assault, which he had been convicted of in 2009, Judge Ross said.

That, combined with Peita's behaviour while on bail and "remorseless denial", meant he was going to prison.

Judge Ross sentenced Peita to three months' imprisonment.

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- Manawatu Standard

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