Police defend pillow bashing prosecution

PILLOWFIGHT PING A HOLDING CHARGE, POLICE ARGUE

Wellington, Dec 5 NZPA – Police have hit back at media reports that the attempted prosecution of a man who allegedly threw a pillow at his nephew was “petty” and “ridiculous”.

A Wellington District Court judge yesterday discharged George Taylor, who had been accused of assault after allegedly hitting his nephew on the head with a sofa cushion, just before a jury trial was set to start.

The alleged incident took place last New Year’s Eve, following an argument about whether the boy’s mother was being too overprotective of her children.

He threw a small decorative cushion at his nephew’s head, and although the boy’s mother did not see the incident, she called the police.

The boy told a hearing earlier this year he had been hit on the top of the head and was not sore afterward.

Yesterday media reported the District Court judge as blasting police as “ridiculous” and “petty” before throwing the case out.

But police today denied the judge had said those words.

“This comment was not made by the presiding judge who did not criticise the police laying a charge in respect of this case,” Wellington District Commander Gail Gibson said.

“Rather, the judge formed the view that the case could have been resolved with a lesser, included charge, which was unavailable to the Crown due to the election of the defence of a trial by jury.”

Ms Gibson said on the day of the incident police were called to the address where Mr Taylor was with his nephew.

He was drunk and refused to leave the property, she said.

“Occupants of the house were frightened of him and were found outside by police on arrival.

“Mr Taylor has a long history of alcohol, drug abuse and family violence which was a factor in laying the charge.”

Ms Gibson said legally the police were correct to charge Mr Taylor with assault on the child as the incident was neither “trifling” nor “trivial”.

“The child had made a complaint that the assault had caused him pain, and redness to his forehead, that he has been whacked,” Ms Gibson said.

The matter was a family violence incident and was therefore not relevant to the anti-smacking law — section 59 of the Crimes Act (1961), she said.

“The arrest and charge of Taylor was justifiable and in keeping with police policy on family violence.

“The presiding judge in open court listed Mr Taylor’s extensive conviction list of family violence offending, which is now a matter of public record.

“The judge stated that the presence of previous convictions of the accused ought to be a matter of public record, because he considered those when reaching his decision, he declined to suppress those details.”

Mr Taylor had more than 70 convictions including family violence, male assaults female, threatens to kill, kidnapping, aggravated robbery (firearms) among others, Ms Gibson said.

Yesterday Mr Taylor told TVNZ he “was no angel” but he had never hurt a child because that would be wrong.

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