Judge accepts machete, pipe not for self-defence despite admission

A judge has dismissed charges against a Queenstown man caught with a machete and a length of electrical pipe in his car.

At a judge-alone trial in the Queenstown District Court this week, the police argued personal trainer Jason John Bastion, 36, was leaving town after headbutting a bouncer three days earlier, on August 6.

Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said Bastion had told police he was worried about retribution by the bouncer and his friends.

"You were fearful of your safety, and getting out of Queenstown.

"Those items were there to protect yourself."

Bastion, defending two charges of possessing a weapon, said he had been on his way to Waikuku Beach, north of Christchurch, to spend a few months with his sick aunt.

He was carrying all the possessions he could fit in his car, including a length of electrical pipe he used to mimic a sword while practising martial arts.

He used the machete for cutting tracks through dense bush while hunting.

The items were sitting on top of his other possessions, in reach of the driver’s seat, because they were the last items to go in, he said

Asked why the machete lacked any of the marks to be expected from being used to hack through vegetation, Bastion said he "kept it very clean".

Counsel Megan Waller said the legal test was whether a reasonable person would accept, in the circumstances, the carriage of weapons was acceptable.

The defendant had given a "reasonable excuse" for why he had the items in the car, and denied they had been for self-defence.

Judge Duncan Harvey said he was suspicious about why the machete and stick had been in easy reach of the defendant.

Although the police argued he had been prepared for an attack, it was up to them to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

He dismissed the charges because there were "two explanations, probably of equal weight, and choosing between them would be a guess".

"Whilst I’m very suspicious, I accept what Mr Bastion says could be true."

The defendant, who has been in custody since August, will be sentenced on other charges on April 8, including one of injuring with intent to injure for headbutting the bouncer.