Posie Parker protest: Discharge without conviction after punching 71-year-old woman

Protesters at the rally in Auckland. Photo: RNZ
Protesters at the rally in Auckland. Photo: RNZ
A young man who was filmed punching a 71-year-old woman in the head during the heated Posie Parker protest in Auckland last year has been granted a discharge without conviction and permanent name suppression.

His lawyer Emma Priest said the man, aged 20 at the time of the assault, was caught up in what she described as the “frenzy” of the protest in March last year and had now taken full responsibility.

He suffered from ADHD and autism and had undertaken counselling and rehabilitation along with 180 hours of community work at the Red Cross, Priest told Judge Kevin Glubb in the Auckland District Court on Monday.

He admitted a charge of common assault at the earliest possible opportunity, she said.

Police opposed the discharge without conviction but did not oppose the request for permanent name suppression.

Judge Glubb said the gravity of a conviction on the young man would be out of proportion to the seriousness of his offending.

Judith Hobson sustained facial injuries in the assault. Photo: Supplied
Judith Hobson sustained facial injuries in the assault. Photo: Supplied
The judge granted the discharge without conviction and permanent name suppression but ordered him to pay $1000 reparation to the victim, Judith Hobson, who made her views of the verdict clear as she left court today.

“You’re a lying little b******,” she said to him.

In a victim impact statement, she told the court that since the assault, she had been unable to go out and interact with people. She could not sleep without taking medication and any noise caused her severe stress, she said.

“The crime itself has had a huge impact on my general wellbeing,” she said.

She asked the judge that the man not be granted name suppression.

“He shouldn’t be able to hide.”

The defendant was charged in April, nearly a month after the short-lived visit to New Zealand by controversial British speaker Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull — a self-described women’s rights activist, better known as Posie Parker, who has been labelled by critics an anti-transgender rights activist.

Parker aborted her two-event Let Women Speak New Zealand tour when her planned speech in Albert Park was drowned out by counter-protesters. About 150-200 supporters showed up but they were dwarfed by roughly 2000 protesters.

Judge Glubb said Hobson and the young man were both at the protest on March 25 when people began removing barriers separating a small of supporters there to hear Parker from a much larger group of pro-trans rights protesters.

The protesters pushed over the metal barricades and began approaching a group there in support of Parker.

Hobson put out her hands to stop them and made contact with the opposing group. The young man saw this and punched her three times in the head, believing she had assaulted a fellow protester.

She suffered concussion and bruising to her eye and behind her left ear.

Another person has been charged with assault for allegedly throwing tomato juice at Parker at the demonstration last year. That case remains before the courts.

The charge against the then-20-year-old LGBTQ rights activist came after footage circulated widely on Twitter showing a heated meeting of the two groups that day. In the video, he can be seen striking the woman in the face.

Court documents obtained by The New Zealand Herald note the defendant and the victim did not know each other before the raucous gathering.

“About 11am an unknown person began pulling out pegs placed in the ground to separate the two groups,” police noted in the summary of facts for the case. “The group protesting against the speaker Posie Parker pushed over a metal fence and began approaching the group supporting her.

“The victim put her hands out to stop the group and made contact with a female from the opposing group, the same one that had been removing the pegs.”

The defendant approached the victim after noticing the physical contact, court documents state.

“The victim turned towards the defendant who responded by punching the victim three times in the head area,” police noted.

“In explanation, the defendant stated he believed the victim had assaulted a fellow protester and that the victim was going to assault him next.”

Common assault carries a maximum possible sentence of one year’s imprisonment.