It's community work or jail, Hone told
Hone Ma Heke will go to prison if he fails to complete 400 hours of community service, a judge has warned.
Nelson vagrant Lewis Stanton, who likes to be known as Hone Ma Heke, was handed the sentence for $50,000 worth of unpaid parking and other fines in the Nelson District Court yesterday.
Stanton regularly parks his horse and cart in Bridge St, taking up two spaces.
Judge Richard Russell said he was not going to treat Stanton's situation any differently than anyone else who had appeared before the court. Like many people who stood before him, Stanton did not have the money or means to pay the $50,548 worth of fines and would be given an alternative sentence of community work.
When addressing the court, Stanton referred to what he thought was a wrongful conviction in 1986, which prompted his anti-establishment stance.
"I am not going to be a part of a system that is fundamentally flawed. I am not on a benefit and I do not pay taxes. Why can I not exist independently?"
He was willing to go to prison on principle if he had to. He asked the judge not to sentence him to community service.
Judge Russell said he did not make the law. "Do not argue with me please, you will be treated like anyone else."
The judge warned Stanton that any breach in completing the community service would lead to imprisonment.
Outside court, Stanton said he would not be completing any community work.
"I will not be forced to be a victim of the failure of the system. I am being told to complete forced labour, that is against my human rights.
"I have not even had a proper hearing. The judge did not want to listen or let me say what I wanted to say. Being told to be quiet is contrary to my right of freedom of speech."
He has asked probation services to refer the sentence back to the courts for review.
The Nelson Mail