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Hamilton man racially abuses Catholic church staff setting up for Sunday mass

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Hamilton man Craig Murray, 50, was highly intoxicated when he unleashed a tirade of racial and derogatory abuse on three Catholic church staff setting up for Sunday mass.

WARNING: This story contains offensive language

A “severely intoxicated” man launched a tirade of derogatory and racial abuse on three Catholic church staff – and even spat in the face of one – leading a judge to ask if there are any “anti-racism” programmes operating in the Waikato.

“It seems there were two wellsprings of hatred that Mr [Craig] Murray tapped into when drunk,” Judge Arthur Tompkins told counsel Hayley Carson in the Hamilton District Court today, adding that the summary of facts around his offending made for “very unpleasant reading”.

Craig George Murray’s victims were setting up for the following morning’s church mass when the 50-year-old, and two younger associates, walked in about 8.30pm on October 21, last year.

Murray waited in the foyer as the other two walked around before asking if they were being a nuisance and were told how they were setting up for service the next day.

They all left but suddenly Murray became “enraged” and ran back into the church foyer yelling that it was his church and they were not supposed to be there.

He approached the first victim, who was trying to get away, and pushed him in the chest three times shouting, “get out, you’re black”.

That victim backed away before running out of the church and getting into a friend’s car, while the other two victims also went outside in the hope Murray would leave.

Murray instead walked towards the second victim and also pushed him in the chest, shouting “beat it you black c***”, and “get off my section, I’m a Catholic you f****** piece of s***”.

The third victim asked the defendant to leave, when Murray spat in his face before pushing him, and yelling “beat it you f****** piece of n***** s***”.

Murray then started chasing the second victim, yelling, “get lost you n***** c***”, and then spitting on his face.

As Murray’s associates tried to drag him away, he instead started banging on the window of the car victim one was in yelling, “I’ll hunt you down c****”, and “f*** off n***** c***”.

He continued the abuse before being told by victim three he was a priest; he was delivered the same verbal tirade.

It all came to a stop when Murray’s partner arrived and said the police were on their way.

He fled home where he was later arrested, and denied making any racial slurs or spitting at anyone.

‘He holds no ill-will’

Carson agreed her client’s actions were not acceptable and he also accepted that.

“He holds no ill-will to them but it does have that [hatred] flavour and is very unsavoury.

“His intoxication level at the time was very high,” she said.

The victims “understandably” did not want to attend a restorative justice conference so his client had penned a letter of remorse to them instead.

Murray was so ashamed of his behaviour he couldn’t watch the CCTV footage.

She pushed for a sentence to include supervision to address his rehabilitative needs.

“Certainly for alcohol,” Judge Tompkins replied before asking Corrections, “are there any anti-racism programmes operating in the Waikato?”

After being told there wasn’t, he replied dryly, “there’s a bit of a gap there”.

Carson said a condition in her client’s sentence not to drink alcohol would only set him up to fail given his “long history of substance abuse” but added a combined supervision and community detention sentence would help address his mental health and other “deep-rooted issues”.

Judge Tompkins said he didn’t blame the victims for not wanting to meet at an restorative justice conference and agreed with Carson’s suggested sentence.

“It would be beneficial both to Mr Murray himself if as part of his supervision he could given psychological treatment to address a spectrum of issues.”

On three charges of common assault, Judge Tompkins sentenced Murray to three months’ community detention and nine months’ supervision.

The victims’ names and their church were also suppressed.

Belinda Feek is an Open Justice reporter based in Waikato. She has worked at NZME for nine years and been a journalist for 20.



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