NZ anti-vaxxer appears in court again on nation’s first sabotage charges

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Sabotage under the NZ Crimes Act
Under the Crimes Act, sabotage is legally defined as any activity which impairs or impedes the operation of "any ship, vehicle, aircraft, arms, munitions, equipment, machinery, apparatus, or atomic or nuclear plant" on New Zealand shores. Image: Patrice Allen/RNZ

By Ethan Griffiths, Open Justice reporter of The New Zealand Herald

An anti-vaccination campaigner who this year became the first person ever accused of breaching New Zealand’s sabotage laws has again appeared in court.

Taupō man Graham Philip was charged with seven counts of sabotage in May, relating to an alleged attack on New Zealand infrastructure late last year. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The exact details of what the Crown alleges remain suppressed until trial, due to what Open Justice understands is a fear of copycat offending.

Philip appeared via audio-visual link in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday, sitting calmly in the booth as his lawyer addressed Justice Graham Lang.

Philip’s previous lawyer Matthew Hague has withdrawn from the case, with Philip now represented by Tauranga lawyer Bill Nabney.

Philip is currently held at Waikeria Prison in Waikato after his bail application was denied earlier this year.

A planned Court of Appeal challenge to the bail decision has been abandoned and Philip will remain in prison until his trial, set down for late next year.

Sabotage defined
Under the Crimes Act, sabotage is legally defined as any activity which impairs or impedes the operation of “any ship, vehicle, aircraft, arms, munitions, equipment, machinery, apparatus, or atomic or nuclear plant” on New Zealand shores.

A person can also be charged with sabotage if the person “damages or destroys any property which is necessary to keep intact for the safety or health of the public”.

A conviction also requires a proven intent to prejudice the health or safety of the public.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ. This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald under the Public Interest Journalism Initiative funded by NZ on Air.

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