Last vigilantes avoid conviction after city attack
The last two members of a seven-strong Auckland vigilante posse were sentenced in Hamilton District Court this week, and narrowly avoided a conviction.
Engaged Auckland couple Louise Anne Morris, 24, and Michael David Scott, 26, were previously found guilty by a jury of one charge of assault, following the violent September 2010 incident.
Morris previously pleaded guilty to one count of theft as well.
The pair ended up with five of their friends travelling in a van to Hamilton, where Jessica Ayers had been partying with friends the previous night.
Ayers had taken "a variety of drugs" with mates before going to a gig in one of the city's bars and afterwards they went home with some men they met there.
Back at the house they took more drugs but became sick and hurriedly left for Auckland.
When they returned, rather than telling her then boyfriend Regan Derrick she'd willingly taken drugs, Ayers concocted a story about an attempted date rape and told him the men had stolen some of their belongings.
Rather than urging her to inform police, Derrick assembled a group of friends, of which Morris and Scott were a part, to go to Hamilton.
Two men were beaten up and property at the house was damaged during the attack.
Although they were only a party to the violence, crown prosecutor Jacinda Foster said the two allowed it to continue, so they should be convicted.
Once the initial fight broke out at the front door, Morris entered the house "confident and assured" and collected various items which she took back to Auckland.
Though Scott professed great remorse in court, calling it "the worst day of his life", Ms Foster said that attitude was in stark contrast to the one displayed in a text to Derrick the day after the incident.
"I'm stoked we went down," the message said.
Defence counsel described the couple as "tail-end charlies", who did not play a serious role in the offending.
Morris' hopes to work as a primary school teacher had been on hold for the last 18 months and Scott's lawyer said a criminal conviction would put him at the back of the queue for his desired job as a firefighter.
Judge Glen Marshall agreed they joined the group through a sense of "misguided loyalty" and he did not expect to see them in court again. They were discharged without conviction and both ordered to pay $1500 reparation.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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