Minto loses appeal against conviction

JOHN MINTO: Lost an appeal against his conviction.
JOHN MINTO: Lost an appeal against his conviction.

Veteran activist John Minto has lost his appeal against an obstruction conviction after confessing to intentionally blocking police during his High Court hearing.

Minto was found guilty of obstruction at the Auckland District Court in August for blocking a truck removing a state house in Glen Innes.

He appealed his conviction on February 5 on the basis his arrest was "gratuitous, arbitrary and unnecessary".

However, in a High Court ruling released today, Justice Raynor Asher dismissed his appeal.

"Minto did not challenge the fact that he had been asked to leave the road. It was his intention to stay where he was."

Minto admitted to blocking the truck in his evidence: "I was determined that the police would move me off rather than me moving voluntarily."

He represented himself in court.

Fellow protester Hagen Xavier Robertson was also found guilty of obstruction at the Auckland District Court on August 10. 

Robertson, who had jumped up on the truck blocking its way, also had his appeal dismissed by Justice Raynor. He had argued police did not tell him to get off the van.

"Whether or not a specific warning was given, the unmistakable wish of the police was for him to move off the van to stop impeding the truck. No words of warning were necessary," Justice Raynor said.

During the February appeal hearing, Minto had argued it was a token, peaceful protest against state house removals. 

"There was six people putting their bodies on the road in a passive, non-violent way and in a way the police could have dealt with easily." 

Minto, best known for his protests during the 1981 Springbok tour, said police singled him out: "My arrest was quite deliberate."

A third person was also charged with obstruction but later discharged without conviction. 

Crown lawyer Ian Auld had argued police made numerous attempts to move the protesters from the path of the truck. This was a clear case of obstructing the road to block the truck and police arrested protesters as a last resort, he said.

A number of protesters, including Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, appeared before the courts last year following arrests at Glen Innes protests.

Housing New Zealand plans to move 40 state houses from Glen Innes and redevelop 156 houses to create 260 new homes.

Auckland Now