Gun lobbyist's frailty of character prevents him being lawyer

Richard Lincoln will not be joining the ranks of barristers and solicitors. (File photo)
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF
Richard Lincoln will not be joining the ranks of barristers and solicitors. (File photo)

Would-be lawyer Richard Lincoln's worrying character defects have again stopped his bid to join the bar.

The High Court last year declined his application to be admitted to the bar, saying he suffered from an enduring frailty of character. Lincoln completed a law degree in 2017 and then passed his professional examinations.

He appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal, which this week ruled Lincoln's "profound and very disconcerting" character defect meant he was not a fit and proper person to be admitted.

Lincoln set up the National Shooters Association (NSA) in 2009 using the model of the National Rifle Association in the United States, and took several firearms cases to court.

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The Law Society opposed Lincoln's application in the High Court, mainly relying on his behaviour following an incident in 2015 when Lincoln was stopped while transporting a rifle for repair.

Lawyer Michael Starling, a former Paparua Prison psychologist, pictured in 2009, offered to supervise Richard Lincoln.
ANNETTE TURNBULL-DEW/STUFF
Lawyer Michael Starling, a former Paparua Prison psychologist, pictured in 2009, offered to supervise Richard Lincoln.

After charges against him were dismissed in late 2017, Lincoln targeted Senior Constable James Manning, who was one of three officers who arrested him near Dunsandel, south of Christchurch. He posted derogatory messages about the constable on the NSA Facebook page, calling him a dangerous criminal and providing the constable's wife's Facebook page.

He also sent a Facebook message to Manning's wife that included the prediction her husband would probably serve time in a "nice cold prison cell" and asking: "How did you ever wind up marrying a lowlife scumbag thug?"

Lincoln later apologised for sending the message.

Civil proceedings Lincoln took against Manning and others were settled on a confidential basis.

Lincoln appealed the High Court decision on grounds the judge had not considered Lincoln would be supervised in practice.

Before the Court of Appeal, the Law Society produced new evidence, including correspondence between Lincoln and Timaru's Crown Solicitor Andrew McRae.

In a letter in 2017 he threatened to bring a private prosecution against McRae and in an email accused him of "conspiring to prosecute".

Richard Lincoln has lobbied for rifle owners by setting up the National Shooters Association.
CAMERON BURNELL
Richard Lincoln has lobbied for rifle owners by setting up the National Shooters Association.

Further new evidence was correspondence between Lincoln and lawyer Tim Mackenzie who acted for the police officers in the gun-seizure case.

Lincoln accused Mackenzie of deceiving the High Court, lying to a judge and defaming Lincoln. He threatened to commence disciplinary proceedings against Mackenzie.

"We are satisfied Mr Lincoln suffers from a longstanding and enduring defect in his character that causes him to react in an aggressive, threatening and wholly unbalanced way against those whom he perceives have wrongly challenged him," the Court of Appeal court said.

The defect was very evident as long ago as 1993 when he was charged with offences after the break-up of a relationship.

The charges were dismissed when the former girlfriend decided not to return to New Zealand to give evidence. A decision at the time to revoke Lincoln's firearms licence was based on "well founded" concerns about his violent and aggressive behaviour, the appeal court said.

"Unfortunately these defects in Mr Lincoln's character have not diminished with the passage of time," it said.

Supervision by Christchurch lawyer Michael Starling did not remove the problem of Lincoln falling well short of being a "fit and proper" person.

"Mr Lincoln's defect of character is so profound and enduring, we would require convincing evidence before we could be satisfied that supervision would provide sufficient protection for the community and the profession...There is no evidence of that nature before us.

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