Census refuser eventually complies

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 15:44 08/01/2014

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A 53-year-old man was in pain after an unsuccessful operation at the time of the census in March and found the form filling "more than he could cope with", the Christchurch District Court has been told.

Anthony Pearson told the census taker who called at his Redwood home that he would not fill out the forms for North Islanders "who want my money".

His bid for a discharge without conviction was not helped by a medical certificate in which his doctor referred to the prosecution as a "trivial matter".

"It's not," said Judge Alistair Garland.

"It is an important matter. This is an important duty that all citizens in our country must perform when requested."

Pearson completed the census forms in November, about the time of his first appearance in court for the prosecution. He pleaded guilty today to the charges of failing to complete the statistics forms, and mutilating the documents.

Statistics NZ prosecutor Chris Newman said that when the forms were collected from Pearson on March 10 they had been defaced.

Statistics then made repeated approaches to get Pearson to fill in the forms, without success.

Defence counsel Catherine Hey said Pearson had undergone unsuccessful surgery and would need corrective surgery. He was in pain much of the time.

"He was pretty unwell at the time of the offending. The form-filling seemed to him more than he could cope with."

Previously, census forms had been completed by his wife but the couple had now separated.

Judge Garland granted the conviction and discharge without penalty, after being assured that Pearson had now completed the forms and would complete them as required for the next census.

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- The Press

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