Man jailed for 'blatant' breach

A blatant, premeditated breach of suppression orders, including naming a former Central Otago policeman who had appeared in court, resulted in a three-month jail sentence for a Clyde man yesterday.

Christopher Wardill (46) had an ''intense dislike of the police'' and went out of his way to treat the court orders with ''absolute contempt'', Judge Kevin Phillips said in the Alexandra District Court.

Wardill posted about the case on social media before going to court, and sat in the public gallery during the officer's court appearance, so was aware of the suppression order and the reason for it, Judge Philips said.

Wardill then named the person on social media and linked the name with a court report published in the Otago Daily Times.

The ODT abided by the suppression order, the judge said.

Wardill repeated those breaches and carried on his blog postings ''as a kind of martyr'', the judge said.

In a second case of breaching orders, the suppressed name of a person who appeared in a North Island court had been published.

Wardill pleaded guilty to two charges of recklessly breaching suppression by publishing names on a social media site on December 12 at Alexandra and December 13 at Clyde.

Wardill was given a written warning about similar incidents in June last year and had been told the likely outcome if he breached suppression orders, Judge Phillips said.

Wardill collapsed in the dock during his sentencing yesterday, falling to the floor as Judge Phillips was highlighting the facts of the case.

The judge asked if Wardill wanted to be seated for the rest of the sentencing, but he declined and then interjected several times as Judge Phillips continued.

Counsel Noel Rayner said the web page Wardill posted on ''was not accessed by many - it's not like it was printed in the ODT, which goes right through Otago''.

The information was up on his website for about two weeks.

It did not get many hits, Mr Rayner said.

As soon as police visited Wardill's home, he took down the offending material and did not repeat the offending.

Other recent cases of breaching suppression had resulted in fines for the defendants and Wardill had abided by a deferred sentence in the past and said he would not offend again, so that might be an appropriate punishment, Mr Rayner said.

''The court process has been very stressful for him and his family.''

There was a ''psychiatric'' background to the offending and the defendant's ''vendetta'' against the Alexandra police stemmed from an alleged assault, Mr Rayner said.

A prison sentence would be ''exceptionally hard'' given the defendant's general mental state.

The incidents were the ''top level'' of seriousness, Judge Phillips said. Suppression orders sometimes related to the defendant or were imposed to protect the victims of crimes.

''Orders of the court will be respected by all ... ,'' Judge Phillips said. Wardill had to be held accountable, he said, sentencing the defendant to three months' jail on each charge, the terms concurrent.

 

 

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