Anti-Muslim tirade leads to counselling

A man who made derogatory comments about Muslims just days after the Christchurch mosque shootings has been ordered to undertake counselling.

Glen Alan Newell appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to misusing a phone.

As well as maligning the Muslim faith, the defendant also threatened to ''blow himself up'', the court heard.

Newell, who was known to psychiatric staff, called the hospital repeatedly during a two-hour period on March 25.

On one occasion he asked the nurse if they supported Muslims.

''How could you support Muslims?'' the defendant asked.

Newell's racist tirade ended only when the nurse hung up on him.

He called again, resuming his rant.

''He continued to make comments about Muslims and that he would 'blow himself up','' a police summary said.

''There was continual mention of terrorist behaviour throughout the phone calls.''

Newell called at least four more times to spout his views on the Christchurch tragedy.

Medical staff repeatedly hung up on him.

When police spoke to Newell, he was ''apologetic and remorseful''.

He told officers he had an alcohol problem and was so intoxicated at the time of the calls he did not remember what he had said.

Defence counsel Brendan Stephenson said his client had severe alcohol dependency and was homeless at the time.

Since being in custody, Newell had resolved to turn his life around, he said.

A pre-sentence report concluded the defendant's behaviour was a cry for attention rather than posing a credible threat.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh imposed 12 months' intensive supervision, including the condition Newell attend appropriate alcohol counselling, which might include residential rehabilitation.

He was ordered not to contact Emergency Psychiatric Services.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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