The Crown has downgraded charges against five men charged over the Christchurch mosque shooting video, and one has pleaded guilty.
Three others are maintaining their not guilty pleas and have been remanded to a pre-trial call-over in November.
The fifth person before the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday, a 42-year-old from Burnside, has been remanded on bail for a further hearing on September 25.
Interim suppression continues for all five who came before Judge Stephen O’Driscoll at the Crown case review session.
Prosecutor Shivani Dayal said charges of distributing the livestreaming video showing the murder of 51 people and the shooting of another 40 at two Christchurch mosques on March 15 were being amended to charges of possession of the video knowing that it was objectionable.
One 22-year-old fisherman pleaded guilty immediately to the amended charge. He had already admitted possession of the alleged mosque shooter’s “manifesto”, which he had downloaded and saved onto his phone.
Police said the document “was published online with the aim of inciting and inspiring vulnerable people to commit acts of violence” and was considered objectionable.
The man had been sent a copy of the massacre video and three days after the March 15 shooting he shared the video to an associate over Facebook.
The man told police: “I do not agree with the Government’s censorship. I
believe that under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, I have the right
to have [the material] on me and to review it and make my own decision
on the content of it.”
He was remanded in custody until Thursday when he may be sentenced
immediately or remanded for a pre-sentence report. Defence counsel Clare
Yardley said she believed that after four-and-a-half months in custody,
the man had effectively served any jail time that would be imposed.
Judge O’Driscoll said he wanted the Crown to present an estimate of how
many people had viewed the material online. He had seen figures
indicating up to 1.5 million had viewed it.
A 22-year-old Lyttelton man, a 17-year-old Opawa man, and an
19-year-old from Yaldhurst, were all remanded to a pre-trial call-over
on November 22 after defence counsel said they maintained their not
guilty pleas. All are on bail or electronically monitored bail.
The 19-year-old now faces charges of possession of the video and making
an objectionable publication which was a photograph of the mosque in
Deans Ave with the words, “Target acquired”.
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