Streaker sidesteps jail time

The naked truth - the streaker gives Jonny Wilkinson some advice. Photo by Linda Robertson
The naked truth - the streaker gives Jonny Wilkinson some advice. Photo by Linda Robertson
Despite the introduction of a tough new law to penalise streakers at the Rugby World Cup, the first streaker of the 2011 tournament has been granted police diversion.

The 23-year-old man, from Dunedin, who was viewed by a television audience of millions running naked on to the field during the England v Argentina game at Otago Stadium on Saturday, was charged under the Major Events Management Act.

The Act says any unauthorised entry on to a pitch can result in a jail sentence of up to three months, or a fine up of to $5000.

Before the start of the RWC 2011, tournament organisers and police warned that anyone running on to the field would feel the full weight of the new legislation.

However, Dunedin police area commander Inspector Dave Campbell said yesterday police were still obliged to consider diversion when certain criteria were met.

In some situations, there was a provision for police to apply to refuse diversion to people arrested during a particular event. That had been approved, for example, during the Undie 500, when police expected significant disorder or law-breaking.

But police did not expect this during the RWC so had not used that provision, Insp Campbell said.

Therefore, anyone who was arrested during the RWC was eligible for consideration for diversion if they were a first-time offender, admitted their offending, showed remorse and agreed to make reparation to the victim or community.

This case had obviously met those criteria, he said.

The condition of the man's diversion was that he make a donation to a charity. Insp Campbell declined to reveal the amount required, although it is believed to be about $500.

Once the conditions of a diversion are fulfilled, police seek the withdrawal of the charge the person faces.

Insp Campbell did not know if the donation had been paid.

The man, who has been granted interim name suppression until the diversion is completed, declined yesterday to comment about the incident.

A decision on whether he will be banned from attending future RWC matches is up to Rugby World Cup 2011. Attempts to contact a RWC spokesman last night were unsuccessful.