A white supremacist jailed for sharing disturbing footage of the Christchurch mosque shootings has been banned from the city’s two mosques – and from having any contact with all Muslims.
Philip Neville Arps, 45, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison last June for spreading disturbing footage of the Al Noor Mosque massacre, will be released from custody today.
Arps will be electronically monitored with a GPS tracker, an ankle bracelet that will trigger alerts if he enters “exclusion zones” around Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Masjid in Christchurch where the shootings happened.
Last week, the Department of Corrections applied for extra release conditions, on top of the raft of conditions imposed on him when he was sentenced at Christchurch District Court on June 18 – including a blanket internet ban, inspections of any electronic device capable of accessing the internet, counselling, and drug or alcohol treatment programmes.
Corrections officials said they have “ongoing concerns” about Arps’ risk to the public, in particular to the Muslim community, after fears over his “general behavior” towards prison staff, along with intercepted letters and phone calls.
The content of those letters and phone conversations were suppressed by Judge Stephen O’Driscoll at a special hearing over Arps’ prison release conditions at Christchurch District Court on Monday.
Judge O’Driscoll today approved extra special release conditions, which includes a ban on Arps entering or loitering near any mosque, prayer room, or any other place where the Muslim community congregates, without prior written approval from his probation officer.
The Christchurch businessman, who owns a Nazi-themed insulation company, is also not allowed to contact or associate with any Muslims without approval.
Corrections said the moves were for “victim safety” and felt that jail time hadn’t reduced his risk to the Muslim community.
Arps, who does not hold a gun licence and has more than 30 previous criminal convictions for indecent assault, guns, drugs, burglary, and fraud, is also not allowed to possess or use firearms, or to be involved in airsoft or BB gun activities.
Arps had challenged the extra conditions sought by Corrections.
Through defence counsel Anselm Williams, he argued that the existing “carefully considered” release conditions would be sufficient and was critical that the Corrections report writer had never met with Arps in person and spoken to him about his views or correspondence.
There was nothing to suggest Arps was a physical threat or at a heightened risk of reoffending, Williams said.
A Corrections official who gave evidence at the hearing said that Arps, who compares himself to Adolf Hitler’s deputy and war criminal Rudolf Hess, found anyone who disagrees with his belief system to be offensive.
She fears he could harm the Muslim community again “through his views … most likely through online advocacy”.
The Muslim Association of Canterbury supported the extra release conditions, saying the community is “still very much traumatised” and says it’s imperative that Arps, who maintains his anti-Muslim rhetoric cannot visit or be seen around mosques nationwide.
Corrections also expressed concern over Arps’ business Beneficial Insulation, with its various Nazi symbols and white supremacist messages, and sought a condition that prevents him from using his employment as a platform to promote extreme views.
However, Judge O’Driscoll did not impose that condition.
Full reasons for his decision will be released tomorrow afternoon.