Nelson bikini-snapper appeal to be heard by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will hear Graham Thomas Rowe's appeal against a conviction for photographing bikini-clad girls on a ...
BRADEN FASTIER/FAIRFAX NZ

The Supreme Court will hear Graham Thomas Rowe's appeal against a conviction for photographing bikini-clad girls on a Tasman beach.

A man convicted for taking snaps of bikini-clad girls on a Tasman beach will have his appeal heard by the Supreme Court.

In January 2017, Graham Thomas Rowe, 61, was found guilty by a Nelson jury of doing an indecent act with intent to offend. He was later sentenced to 120 hours' community work and six months' supervision.

He was caught taking five photos of three teenaged girls on Kaiteriteri Beach without them knowing in January 2016. He maintained at trial that he had been taking pictures for a South Island travel guide and believed he was allowed to take photos in a public place.

Rowe had an appeal against his conviction dismissed by the Court of Appeal, but has now been granted leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court will hear his appeal and determine "whether Mr Rowe should have been convicted".

In the earlier submissions to the Court of Appeal, Rowe's legal team argued taking photos was not, in and of itself, an indecent act.

They said Rowe had sought guidance as to whether taking photos of people on a public beach was illegal, printing information from the New Zealand Police website which said it was generally lawful to take photographs of people in public without consent, provided they did not have reasonable expectation of privacy.

Lawyer Hannah Cuthill submitted there was no evidence of any intention by Rowe to insult the girls, and he had taken photos of them while they were on a public beach.

However the Court of Appeal ruled the jury had sufficient evidence to find Rowe guilty of indecency.

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In the court's decision given by Justice Graham Lang earlier this year, he said Rowe had taken the images "surreptitiously", while crouched behind a caravan, and for an extended period without appearing to have an interest in photographing anything else at that time.

He referred to the use of a zoom lens, and the fact the focus of the images was on the girls, not wider scenery.

Justice Lang said Rowe had previously been trespassed from Kaiteriteri Beach, which negated an argument that he didn't consider he was doing anything wrong.

He also said no legitimate reason was given as to why the photos had been taken, other than to build up a collection of photos of young girls, and the jury had to determine whether this was indecent when measured against "accepted community standards".

Justice Lang said given the circumstances, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find Rowe's actions were indecent with intent to insult or offend.

A date for the Supreme Court hearing is yet to be determined.

 - Stuff

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