Man admits defacing National Party billboards
Spraying graffiti on a National Party billboard and resisting the police officers who caught him has led to a community work sentence for a Christchurch man.
It is the second time Luka Emerson De Spa, 21, has had National in his sights.
Four years ago he was arrested for jumping on top of Prime Minister John Key's car at an event in Christchurch where De Spa was with a group of protesters.
As a first offender aged 17, he was granted diversion for that charge, which meant he escaped having a conviction on his record.
He pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court today to charges of defacing a National Party billboard, unlawful possession of a spray-paint can and resisting arrest.
Police prosecutor Glenn Henderson said police saw De Spa and an associate use a spray can and a stencil to spray the word "Invalid" on a National billboard at 1.15am on August 9.
He said De Spa "decamped" but was found with two spray cans and the stencil. He spent about five minutes resisting police attempts to place handcuffs on him.
Aasked to explain, he told police: "Yeah, I was tagging the sign. Nah, I don't like the sound of that. Just put nothing."
Defence counsel Margaret Smyth said De Spa apologised to the people who had to clean off the tag.
He was reluctant to be handcuffed but there had been no loss of control. It was a question of "youthful exuberance".
She said he was a student training to be a chef and had no proper income. He had a 3-year-old child for whom he paid child support.
Judge Brian Callaghan said: "People have a legitimate right at this point of the campaign to put signs up, as I understand it." He said it had not just been a case of tagging because De Spa had actively resisted the police.
He imposed 60 hours of community work and ordered De Spa to pay $25 to the National Party for the damage he did.
The graffiti equipment will be destroyed.