Manawatu Standard

Spoon duo’s name suppressio­n ends

- Jono Galuszka

A man and a woman who avoided conviction­s after filming themselves trying to put a spoon up their friend’s bottom are set to lose their name suppressio­n.

But the gag order could remain in place if the duo take their fight further to keep their names secret.

Justice Jill Mallon declined to give the pair permanent name suppressio­n after a High Court hearing this month.

The decision was needed after the pair appealed their failure to be discharged without conviction when they were earlier sentenced in the Palmerston North District

Court. The woman admitted indecent assault and the man pleaded guilty to inciting indecent assault in relation to an incident in June 2019.

They were in a vehicle with a friend they regularly partied with.

The woman tried to put a plastic spoon into the friend’s bottom while he slept, with the man filming and encouragin­g her actions.

The victim awoke wondering what was happening.

The duo suggested he use the spoon to eat ice cream.

Although they were convicted in the district court, where no applicatio­n for name suppressio­n was made, their conviction­s were overturned by Mallon on appeal to the High Court.

Their new lawyers also applied for permanent name suppressio­n, arguing the pair would be subject to extreme hardship if named.

The Crown and Stuff opposed name suppressio­n.

Mallon put interim suppressio­n in place, but in her latest judgment ruled the threshold for permanent suppressio­n was not reached.

The man said he had been sent hateful messages, been labelled a sexual predator and rapist, lost his job and had to move in with a parent. He was concerned about informatio­n the victim was sharing about him, with his mental health ‘‘spiral[ling] downwards to the extent that, at times, there appears to be no escape from the abyss’’.

The woman had been abused online and in public, and was also worried about what the victim might say about her and struggle to find work.

She became isolated, anxious, depressed, unable to sleep properly and felt like she had nothing to live for.

Mallon said there were clear parallels between the pair and the case of a man who was discharged without conviction after assaulting people at a Labour youth party camp in February 2018.

He was granted permanent name suppressio­n largely because of the wild claims and uncontroll­ed commentary about the case on social media.

The spoon case attracted similar commentary.

However, the big difference was the fact the man and woman had already gone through the court process and subsequent social media commentary without name suppressio­n. ‘‘What they have endured cannot now be undone,’’ Mallon said.

While the victim wanted to speak publicly about the case and its effect on him, there was no evidence him doing so would cause the man or woman to become unwell. ‘‘I consider that extreme hardship is not made out in respect of any further publicatio­ns.’’

The pair have until Friday afternoon to appeal.

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