'Branding' with hot lighter admitted

Daniel Trevor Nelson, in the Alexandra District Court yesterday.
Daniel Trevor Nelson, in the Alexandra District Court yesterday.
A Clyde youth charged in connection with teenagers allegedly being ''branded'' using a heated cigarette lighter has admitted one charge but denied a second charge.

Daniel Trevor Nelson (17), shearer, appeared in the Alexandra District Court yesterday before Judge Roy Wade on two charges of injuring a person with reckless disregard for the safety of others, between October 1 and November 30 last year. He pleaded guilty to one charge but denied the second one, involving a different complainant.

Judge Wade adjourned the hearing to February 7, for a status hearing on the charge Nelson has denied, saying that both matters should be dealt with together. The Otago Daily Times applied to take an in-court photograph, which was opposed by the defendant.

Counsel Justine Baird said he was 17 and objected to his photo being published. The practice of ''branding'' using a heated cigarette lighter was not uncommon, she said, but there would be a ''certain amount of sensationalism'' if a photo was published.

''We do not want to encourage the continuation of this practice.''

There would be no benefit in publishing a photograph, she said. Judge Wade said the police were ''neutral'' on the media application. Nelson objected because printing a photo might lead to some embarrassment or even notoriety and ''I accept that that is a possible consequence'', the judge said.

However, he granted the application, saying it was important to uphold the principles of open justice and the defendant had not sought name suppression.

There were good reasons why it should be permitted, Judge Wade said. It might lead to other complainants coming forward and it was fair to identify the defendant as perhaps someone the public should be ''wary of''.

The public interest outweighed any of the concerns outlined, Judge Wade said.

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