Hone conviction overturned

Serial protester Lewis Stanton has won his appeal against his conviction for obstructing the footpath in Nelson's Trafalgar St, with a High Court judge saying Mr Stanton's appearance cannot be held against him.

Mr Stanton was fined $200 by justices of the peace after being arrested on July 18, the culmination of a 16-month protest against the Nelson City Council, and several police warnings.

But in a reserved judgment released yesterday, Justice Alan MacKenzie said there was no evidence of threatening behaviour by Mr Stanton, aka Hone Ma Heke.

"The appellant should not be held criminally responsible for his appearance, or for his conduct, on the grounds that some people may find it so distasteful that they prefer to give him a wide berth," the judge said.

In quashing the conviction he said Mr Stanton's occupation of the footpath "did not constitute an unreasonable impediment to normal passage", and there was no evidence that Mr Stanton's activities were designed to cause people to gather.

He also did not consider that when people stopped to talk to Mr Stanton, as they regularly did, that this was sufficient evidence that normal passage was impeded.

Tasman district police commander Superintendent Richard Chambers said this morning police were studying the judgment's implications.

"We just haven't had a chance to talk about where to [go] from here," he said.

Mr Stanton, who is currently battling the city council again over where he camps with his horse, Barney, yesterday wrote to the council saying it suffered from "an old boys' club syndrome".

He said the council should stop digging itself into a deeper hole.

The Nelson Mail