Blogger's harsh words rile grieving parents

JUDD HALL: Was the rear passenger in a car that crashed into a Greymouth house.
JUDD HALL: Was the rear passenger in a car that crashed into a Greymouth house.

A West Coast man's grieving parents are devastated by an internet blogger's comments lauding their son's death in a car crash.

Runanga man Judd Hall, 26, was killed last week when the speeding car he was a rear passenger in slammed into the side of a wooden house on Greymouth's main road after a brief police chase.

His mother, Joe Hall, and father, Rick (Rowdy) Durbridge, told The Press yesterday Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater's public elation over Judd's death, their fourth son to die in tragic circumstances, had greatly worsened their family's suffering.

"He doesn't even know my son. It makes me feel that Juddy's life was worthless," Joe Hall said.

She said her son was an innocent party in the crash because he was a passenger. He had been picked up from home, sober and about to head to bed, by his two friends less than half an hour before the crash.

A police officer spotted a car speeding past his parked vehicle that night in Greymouth and turned around to start pursuing them but, within seconds, lost sight of them. The crash occurred about 600 metres to 800m later when the 28-year-old driver lost control around a sweeping bend, seriously injuring himself and the other passenger.

Joe Hall admitted she had threatened Slater on the phone.

However, she and Durbridge wanted to meet him face-to-face to question him about his comments.

Slater said yesterday he had given Auckland police a list of 10 people who had made threats which warranted investigation, but that did not include Hall's parents.

Death threats had flooded in since he posted a blog the morning after Hall's death, which said: "Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour" before criticising media coverage of the crash.

Slater said when he posted the comment, it was unclear whether the driver or a passenger had been killed and Hall's name had not been released.

He subsequently went into hiding after receiving numerous death threats against himself and threats towards his family.

His internet site was shut down for 2 days in what he believed was an unrelated denial-of-service attack, but restarted on Thursday.

Slater said he had no plans to meet Judd Hall's family or to apologise but if he did, that would be done privately.

Judd Hall's funeral will be held today at the Runanga Catholic Church.

The Press