Wannabe politician let off trial

Last updated 12:00 01/05/2014

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A man who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in Palmerston North and Hamilton will no longer face trial for assaulting a court bailiff, following the death of his father.

But a judge was also quick to point out the wannabe-politician's role in holding up a trial, which included being tardy making his way back to New Zealand after getting married in Pakistan.

Arshad Mahmood Chatha, 47, was not present in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday when Judge Les Atkins decided a trial could not go ahead on a charge of assault.

In October 2010, two court bailiffs went to Chatha's house to seize a white Mitsubishi van.

It was alleged Chatha assaulted one of the bailiffs during the seizure.

The judge said the trial could not go ahead because of the death of Chatha's father, Muhammod Shafi Chatha.

He was to give evidence at his son's trial, but he died in November last year.

Muhammod Chatha was given diversion after he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault in relation to the same incident, where he assaulted both bailiffs.

As Muhammod Chatha's matters had been dealt with, the DVD of the police interview he gave was destroyed.

A transcript was retained, but Atkins said translation issues made it difficult to read.

It would also be of no use to any jury, he said.

"It is far from clear from the transcript if the evidence would help in knowing at all what was happening between [Arshad] Chatha and the complainant.

"Because of the death of Chatha's father, I'm of the view it would not be possible for Chatha to place before a jury all he wished to place before them."

The judge took time to point out that the decision did not mean Arshad Chatha was innocent.

"This is not a rejection of the evidence of the complainant, or that no assault took place."

Atkins put some blame for the hold-up of the trial at Arshad Chatha's feet, describing the pace of the case as "torturous".

The case was set back six months at one point all because of a wedding.

Arshad Chatha was allowed to return to Pakistan to take part in an arranged marriage while awaiting trial, but returned to New Zealand six months later than he should have.

The judge also commented that a "very large volume of material" had been produced for the charge because of Arshad Chatha representing himself.

"He has not worked with anything approaching the competence of a trained lawyer."

Chatha stood for the Palmerston North mayoralty twice and failed both times, and stood for mayor of Hamilton at the last local body elections - losing out to Julie Hardaker. He also had a tilt at Parliament as an independent for Palmerston North in 2005, but was well beaten by Steve Maharey.

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- Manawatu Standard

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