Nelson protester Lewis Stanton has been released from jail after a High Court judge today ruled a bail condition preventing him from entering Nelson’s central business district was too restrictive.
Stanton, who is also known as Hone Ma Heke, has been in custody since July 18 after he was arrested for obstructing the footpath.
The obstruction charges, which are punishable by fine only, will be heard before Justices of the Peace in the Nelson District Court on Friday.
Stanton was remanded in custody after he refused to sign a bail bond with a condition that would ban from the Nelson CBD from 7am to 7.30pm.
Police wanted this condition imposed to reduce a risk of Stanton allegedly offending again and protect him.
Stanton, who previously lived an itinerant lifestyle camping with a horse and cart, has been protesting outside Farmers in Trafalgar St in Nelson for over 16 months.
He has been convicted of two assaults on passersby in that time.
Today in the High Court at Nelson Justice McKenzie said it was clear the court had the ability to impose the bail condition.
He said whether Stanton had been blocking the footpath was something for the district court to determine on Friday, and was not part of the appeal he was hearing.
Justice McKenzie said the way Stanton might act on bail was not sufficiently serious to justify banning him from the CBD between now and Friday.
Stanton had already spent some time in custody.
He said it was clear that Stanton’s actions were a concern to authority and that the populous generally did not favour him, however everyone had the right to protest without undue interference.
‘‘They have a right to protest against actions whether directed at them or others ... provided they act lawfully.’’
Justice McKenzie said a more limited condition was not appropriate as Stanton was likely to also refuse that.
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