As a condition of bail, it is certainly an odd one. Ben Hana, well known around Wellington as Blanket Man, was freed from prison in time to enjoy New Year celebrations, on the proviso that he wear underwear.
Hours after his successful bail application in Wellington District Court yesterday, the homeless man was sunning himself in Tory St in a new pair of undies.
Hana spent a week on remand at Rimutaka Prison after his arrest on December 23 for cannabis possession and obscene exposure.
In applying for bail, his lawyer, Maxine Dixon, said Hana intended to contest allegations that he exposed himself to children. "In the past it has been because he is asleep or intoxicated on the street.
"He wears high-risk clothing. It's a way of life rather than a deliberate attempt at lewdness," Ms Dixon said.
Judge Tom Broadmore was sceptical of Ms Dixon's explanation: "I was walking down Courtenay Place and I'm sure he was exposing his genitals. It's just not something the public should have to tolerate."
Hana appeared in the dock cloaked in his blanket and at one point sought to show the court the adequacy of his loincloth. But the dock officer gestured that he should keep the blanket wrapped tightly around him.
Ms Dixon suggested making the wearing of underwear a bail condition as a "precautionary measure". "I'm happy to pop along to Kirks," she said.
"Farmers might be a better bet," Judge Broadmore noted.
"Yes, they won't be getting great care," Ms Dixon replied.
No objections were raised by police to Hana being bailed on the condition of underwear use.
The judge agreed to bail on condition that Hana not enter licensed premises, other than supermarkets, not drink alcohol and that he wear underpants or boxer shorts while in public.
Hana is due back in court on January 21 for a hearing on the charges.
- © Fairfax NZ News