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Name suppression granted to prominent defendant after protection order breached

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A high-profile defendant was granted permanent name suppression when he appeared in court to protect his victims from a breach of privacy and further emotional harm. Photo / NZME

A high-profile defendant has been granted permanent name suppression after appearing in court for breaching a protection order.

The 48-year-old appeared before Judge Ian Carter in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday and entered a guilty plea to the charge.

The police summary of facts says the temporary protection order was issued in July.

In August, the defendant signed a Memorandum of Consent, along with his wife, stating he would take a breathalyser test to show the alcohol content of his breath and send the reading to his wife via a time-stamped video at the start of each face-to-face contact.

On October 16, 2022, a 29-second video clip also showed his diary open to sections with comments about their separation and the sale of their house while he could be heard taking the breath test in the background, which was considered psychological abuse.

Later that day, he sent a second video showing a number of Father’s Day cards on his table, and could again be heard blowing into the machine in the background.

He acknowledged to police he was required to show his face while taking the test and stated his diary was left out unintentionally.

Defence lawyer Richard Leith sought name suppression on the grounds publication would cause extreme hardship for his victim and four children, who all shared the same surname, if published.

The defendant was supported in court by his father.

Leith said his client, who spent two nights in custody, was seeking help for mental health and other medical issues, and there were other sensitive issues regarding the children which were all being dealt with in the Family Court.

He described the offending as being at the lowest end of the scale, and sought a suspended sentence to come up if called upon.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Stephen Butler agreed naming the defendant would identify the victims, which was not appropriate.

Judge Carter said all breaches of protection orders were treated seriously, but conceded this was at the lower end of the scale.

He ruled the interests of the victims outweighed naming the defendant in this case.

“It’s clear that the adult and child victims would undergo a breach of their privacy and emotional harm, which I consider would be undue hardship.”

Judge Carter agreed a suspended sentence was appropriate and ordered the defendant to come up if called upon within 12 months.

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