High Court Judgments of Public Interest

 

This page provides access to judgments of the High Court in the last 90 days deemed to be of particular public interest.

More information about finding court judgments is available on the judgments section of this website.

It is the responsibility of users of the information contained in these decisions to ensure compliance with conditions or other legal obligations governing access, release, storage and re-publication. See also the guide on statutory provisions that prohibit publication of certain information in certain circumstances. If in doubt you should consult the court that issued the decision(s). Judicial Decisions are presented in PDF format to preserve the integrity of the documents.

Guide on statutory provisions prohibiting publication


Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 233
Date of Judgment
21 February 2020
Summary
Sentencing for murder of Grace Millane. Life imprisonment was accepted, main issue was what MPI should be imposed. Section 104 applied. Overall the circumstances of the murder showed a high-level of callousness, including: the intimate nature of the murder itself; K's actions immediately after the murder which showed the sexual elements of the murder; and the sustained and planned action he took to conceal his involvement , from immediately after the murder to days later. Mitigating factors were held insufficient to warrant a discount or make 17 years manifestly unjust, in light of the seriousness of the offending. Sentence of life imprisonment with 17 year MPI imposed.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 224
Date of Judgment
20 February 2020
Summary
Sentence of preventive detention with minimum period of five years' imprisonment imposed on 78 year­ old sex offender. Age did not mitigate the offending nor justify a reduction in sentence in light of his enduring deviant sexual attraction towards children
Case number
[2020] NZHC 246
Date of Judgment
19 February 2020
Summary
Reasons for dismissing manslaughter charge against Jason Anaru-Emery, at the conclusion of the Crown case. Mr Anaru­ Emery was charged with manslaughter by unlawful act (dangerous driving). Crown case that Mr Anaru-Emery was the driver was circumstantial. Crown's expert forensic witness gave evidence at trial that the critical forensic evidence was "impact splatter stains" on the inside of the passenger' s windscreen and passenger dashboard. The expert's opinion was that the source of the blood stains was the person sitting in the passenger seat at the time of impact, and that they could not have been made by a person hitting the passenger windscreen at an angle. Mr Anaru-Emery's DNA was identified in the relevant blood stains (and none of the deceased's DNA). This, combined with the circumstantial nature of the Crown's case (no eyewitnesses identified him as the driver) raised a reasonable doubt that he was the driver, and a properly instructed jury could not reasonably conclude otherwise.

An application to also dismiss the kidnapping charge was declined. Leave was granted to amend the particulars of the kidnapping charge. The kidnapping charge included events that had occurred outside the vehicle. Confinement within the vehicle was not essential to the charge and the defence would not be prejudiced by an amendment.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 169
Date of Judgment
14 February 2020
Summary
Defendant appeared for sentence on one charge of attempted murder. She attempted to drown her severely disabled son. Her severely disturbed mental state greatly reduces her moral culpability, affecting the gravity of the offending. The breach of trust and the victim's vulnerability are aggravating features. A starting point of 2 years and 6 months' imprisonment adopted. Discount of 4 months for good character, prospects of rehabilitation and remorse.Time spent on EM bail justifies a further 4-month discount. Relevant purposes and principles of sentencing are met with a sentence short of imprisonment. End sentence of 8 months' home detention imposed.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 109
Date of Judgment
10 February 2020
Summary
Zespri holds the exclusive rights to two gold kiwifruit varieties, G3 and G9, under the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 ("the PVR Act"). Zespri alleged that from 2012 onwards Haoyu Gao, and his associated company Smiling Face Ltd had breached its exclusive rights by unlawfully exporting G3 and G9 to China, purporting to license G3 and G9 for the whole of China, and engaging in associated conduct that breached Zespri's exclusive PVR rights in G3 and G9. Zespri further alleged that such conduct breached a G3 licence agreement granted to Mr Gao and his wife Xia Xue, who were licensed by Zespri to grow G3 on their own orchard near Opotiki.HELD: Zespri succeeded on all three causes of action. Mr Gao and Smiling Face were found to have sold and expo1ted G3 and G9 to two growers based in China, following which G3 and G9 was planted on five orchards, some of which were substantial commercial operations. Mr Gao also purp01ted to licence a Chinese kiwifruit producer to grow G3 and G9 throughout China. Although the PVR Act does not have extraterritorial effect, actions taken by Mr Gao within New Zealand significantly diminished Zespri's enjoyment of its exclusive rights in G3 and G9 and therefore infringed the PVR Act. Damages of $14,894,100 awarded in respect of the first andsecond causes of action (against Mr Gao and Smiling Face respectively). Damages of$10,824,300 awarded in respect of the third cause of actions (against Mr Gao and Ms Xue jointly). (Total damages recovered are not to exceed $14,894,100).
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 99
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
The Court sentenced Mr Pay to life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 1O years following the jury verdict finding Mr Pay guilty of the murder of Mr Fonoilaepa. The Court found there were no aggravating or mitigating factors which justified any amendment to the 10 year statutory position for murder with life imprisonment. Mr Pay was given his first strike warning. The Court also sentenced Mr Pay to three months' imprisonment for carrying an imitation firearm, and six months' imprisonment for possession of an offensive weapon and possession of ammunition, to be served concurrently.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 98
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
Sentencing - offender had pleaded guilty to three charges of dishonestly using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage and one charge of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception - the offender did not act for her own gain but to assist charitable entities to obtain funds from educational providers through fraudulent representations that educational courses had been provided by those entities when they had not - in total the charitable entities had obtained $1,3 million in his way- starting point four years imprisonment- reduction of 12 months (25 per cent) to reflect hitherto blameless character at the age of 61 years - further reduction of three months (five per cent) to reflect genuine remorse and nine months (25 per cent) to reflect guilty pleas entered six months before trial - end sentence of two years imprisonment converted to 12 months home detention.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 94
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
Mr LB repeatedly raped a younger cousin when he was a teenager. Mr LB also repeatedly violated the victim with his fingers. The District Court imposed a sentence of home detention. The Solicitor-General appealed. She contended the District Court Judge erred and the sentence was manifestly inadequate. The High Court allowed the appeal, concluding the starting point was inadequate. It also concluded the discounts for mitigating features were excessive. It substituted a term of imprisonment of four years and three months.
Case number
[2020] NZHC 91
Date of Judgment
07 February 2020
Summary
Sentence of 11 months home detention, community work and reparation on a charge of aggravated burglary.
Case name
Case number
[2020] NZHC 68
Date of Judgment
04 February 2020
Summary
The defendants, Habulin, Scott, Cavallo and Northway pleaded guilty to the importation of cocaine and participation in an organised criminal group. The quantity of the drug and sophistication of the offending indicated it was near the most serious of its kind, warranting a deterrent sentence close to the maximum penalty available to the court, being life imprisonment. Mr Habulin was the most senior member of the operation in New Zealand, imported a larger quantity than the other offenders (76 kg) and was involved in the collection and distribution of the drug as well as the laundering of the related proceeds. A starting point of life imprisonment was adopted.  Minimal credit was provided for being a foreign national and for remorse, but this was insufficient to bring the starting point below life imprisonment. However, a 10 per cent deduction for guilty plea was warranted bringing the end sentence to 27 years and 6 months' imprisonment. Mr Scott also played a lead role in the offending, being involved in retrieving and protecting the cocaine, as well as distributing it and laundering the related proceeds. A starting point of 28 years' imprisonment was adopted. Deductions for serving a sentence as a foreign national and for guilty pleas were provided and resulted in an end sentence of 24 years' imprisonment. Mr Cavallo also played a senior role in the operation but did not undertake the same range of tasks carried out by Messrs Habulin and Sco tt. A starting point of27 years' imprisonment was adopted. A deduction for being a foreign national and for guilty pleas brought the end sentence to 23 years' imprisonment. Mr Northway was acknowledged as having a lesser role than his co-offenders warranting a starting point of 19 years' imprisonment. Deductions for his status as a foreign national, his remorse, and guilty pleas resulted in an end sentence of 14 years and 9 months' imprisonment. No minimum period of imprisonment beyond that provided for in the Parole Act was necessary for any of the defendants.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3442
Date of Judgment
19 December 2019
Summary
The defendant appeared for sentence having been found guilty of the murder of his wife. In April 2018, the couple who are both Swiss nationals and were in their early 60s at the time, were in New Zealand on a tour. In the early hours of 27 April 2018, the couple had an argument over the defendant's emotional infidelity and the defendant strangled his wife. There was nothing unusual nor exceptional about the defendant's offending which would make a sentence of life imprisonment manifestly unjust. Having regard to the aggravating and mitigating factors of the case, and in light of cases in similar circumstances, a minimum period of 10 years' imprisonment was appropriate.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3375
Date of Judgment
19 December 2019
Summary
Sentencing notes
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3375
Date of Judgment
18 December 2019
Summary
Appeal against a sentence of three years' imprisonment on a lead charge of strangulation dismissed.

Following an argument with the victim, the appellant threatened and assaulted her, rendering her unconscious. When she came to, he dragged her into her home, isolated her in her bedroom and did not allow her to leave. He then strangled her, again rendering unconscious and also incontinent.

While strangulation has been a stand-alone offence since December 2018, there have been very few appeals to the Senior Courts. Further, it is only relatively recently that strangulation within the context of domestic relationships has attracted the attention of policy makers and scientific research. Certain features of this sort of offending are particularly concerning: the real possibility of permanent brain injury or death; the psychological control and coercion inherent in the offending; and the increased risk of a future fatal attack.

It is necessary to undertake a full evaluation of the circumstances of each case of strangulation in a domestic context and the courts must be aware of and responsive to the impact of this type of offending on victims.

The three-year starting point adopted by the Judge was lenient in the circumstances. Therefore, after all mitigating factors were taken into account, the end sentence was not manifestly excessive.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3356
Date of Judgment
17 December 2019
Summary
The plaintiff sought declaratory and indemnity costs relief under the Defamation Act against the second defendant (which publishes the NBR), alleging two passages in an NBR article defamed him; and the third defendant (the sole director and shareholder of the second defendant), regarding three tweets said to endorse the article. The specific article passages are defamatory. A reasonable reader would conclude the plaintiff was prepared to engage in unethical and improper behaviour in pursuit of his (rather than his party's) political objectives. The imputations are untrue. The meaning of the tweets is the article, or at least its defamatory imputations, was true. As untrue, the tweets are defamatory. The second and third defendant are each liable in defamation. Declarations of defendants' liability in defamation made. Plaintiff awarded solicitor and client costs.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3275
Date of Judgment
12 December 2019
Summary
Plaintiff's claims in defamation against five media defendants in respect of their reporting of the details of her arrest in India in December 2014, struck out. Some claims for invasion of privacy also struck out. But the plaintiff has an arguable case in relation to her claims.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3326
Date of Judgment
16 December 2019
Summary
Defendant sentenced to five years' imprisonment for manslaughter of an eight month old baby.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3305
Date of Judgment
13 December 2019
Summary
High Court dismisses claims that former Director of the CAA and his advisers acted dishonestly when rejecting applications to allow a company to engage in heli-logging activities.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3299
Date of Judgment
13 December 2019
Summary
Six defendants sentenced for their roles in three importations of methamphetamine between October 2016 and October 2017 totalling 267 kgs. The methamphetamine was contained in gypsum and concealed in a shipment of outdoor furniture (specifically, in concrete umbrella stands). The Court adopted the following starting points, applying the new guidance from Zhang v R: 30 years for Ricky Leung (organised the importations by arriving in NZ in advance and setting up businesses and storage); 26.5 years for Chiu (oversaw the handling and extraction of the methamphetamine once arrived); 23 years for Li (handled various administrative responsibilities); 21 years for Chiang and Tan (workers tasked with extracting the methamphetamine); and 20 years for Chi Leung (another worker but with less responsibility). All defendants received modest discounts for their prospects of rehabilitation and the added hardship imprisonment would have on them for reasons of cultural isolation. Two received further discounts for guilty pleas.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3256
Date of Judgment
11 December 2019
Summary
Application for extended supervision order granted. The offender's criminal history indicates he has, or had, a pervasive pattern of serious violent offending. Before determining the eligible offender's risk of committing a relevant violent offence, under s 1071AA(2)(a) the offender must have " a severe disturbance in behavioural functioning", characterised (broadly) by: violence, volatility and the "persistent harbouring of vengeful intentions" . A literal construction of the section (which lacks clinical foundation) may not have been intended; it presents a threshold significantly above that needed for public protection orders. In light of the health assessors' reports and both parties' request for an ESO, there is sufficient evidence to establish severe disturbance in behavioural functioning, as well as the offender's limited self-regulatory capacity and lack of empathy for victims. There is a very high risk the offender will commit a relevant violent offence. An ESO is made, with a term of 5 years. The Parole Board is to impose an intensive monitoring condition. Special and intensive monitoring conditions are imposed on an interim basis.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3227
Date of Judgment
09 December 2019
Summary
Judgment: Judicial review challenge to Council decision as to non-notification and consent for intensive residential development in inner Queenstown . Whether Council failed to have sufficient regard to rezoning of site on basis rezoning was subject to appeal, when aware appeal likely to be struck out for want of Environment Court jurisdiction . Whether Council wrongly attached weight to ability to development neighbouring site with high building when that site owned for purposes of keeping it vacant to protect views.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3209
Date of Judgment
05 December 2019
Summary
Sentencing for fraud. Defendant worked as production manager for a company manufacturing vintage aircraft. Defendant entered into sales of three aircraft on behalf of the company at above ordinary prices and arranged with the CEO to keep the difference, claiming it was a gift from the purchaser, while the purchaser believed he was paying the ordinary price. Defendant also offered another aircraft as security for a loan without obtaining consent as required by an agreement with another victim. Defendant failed to disclose this agreement to the bank and misrepresented his entitlement to earn commissions from the vintage aircraft company .
Starting point of three years, six months adopted.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3194
Date of Judgment
05 December 2019
Summary
The defendant appeared for sentence after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder and attempted murder. In 2002, the defendant agreed to kill the victim in exchange for payment in cannabis. Two months later, the defendant attacked the victim outside his property in the earlier hours of morning, shooting him in the arm. The defendant was charged in 2018. With two aggravating factors - premeditation and use of a lethal weapon - the offending sits towards the top end of a 5-10 year sentencing band. A starting point of eight years and six months' imprisonment is adopted. A six-month uplift to reflect the conspiracy is warranted; the transactional nature of the offending is significantly aggravating. There are no personal aggravating or mitigating features. End sentence of nine years' imprisonment imposed.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3187
Date of Judgment
05 December 2019
Summary
Hearing on 9/12/19 in High Court to hear challenge to ECan's granting of resource consents to allow commercial water bottling at Kaiapoi. High Court has allowed Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga to provide information and submissions to High Court on limited basis. Judge indicates hearing will not determine whether or to what extent Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga have rights of guardianship over water.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3164
Date of Judgment
03 December 2019
Summary
Sentencing for murder. Defendant had previous altercation with street gang and perceived they were a threat to him. At around 12:30 am, noticed individual near his house wearing red. Approached him with armed associates, and fatally shot him. Offending was second strike. Defendant was young, had pleaded guilty and was suffering a fight-or-flight response at time of offending. Ten year minimum period of imprisonment appropriate. Manifestly unjust to impose life imprisonment without parole. Total sentence life imprisonment, with minimum period of imprisonment of 10 years.
Case name
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3146
Date of Judgment
02 December 2019
Summary
Mr Archer appeared for sentence having been found guilty of one charge of manslaughter. The jury must have found that he struck the two-year-old victim or caused her head to be struck, causing a catastrophic brain injury.

The Court adopted a starting point of 8 years 6 months. A discount of 15 per cent was applied to take into account Mr Archer's personal factors. No discount was applied for the pre-trial offer to plead guilty to manslaughter, as unlike other case law, the offer was made only informally.

In the result, Mr Archer was sentenced to 7 years 3 months' imprisonment.
An MPI of 50 per cent was also applied.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3110
Date of Judgment
29 November 2019
Summary
Applications by Cullen Group Ltd to stay enforcement of a costs award, set aside a statutory demand and restrain a liquidation proceeding are declined. Cullen Group, and those who control it, should pay the costs award if it wants to avoid liquidation.
Case number
[2019] NZHC 3126
Date of Judgment
28 November 2019
Summary
Mr Chisnall applies for declarations of inconsistency with various rights affirmed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BORA) in respect of the extended supervision order (ESO) and public protection order (PPO) regimes. The ESO regime does amount to a penalty. A declaration in relation to a retrospective ESO should be made. However, a declaration of inconsistency should not be made in relation to the prospective application of an ESO, because there is the potential for individual cases where the limit is justified per s 5 of the BORA. The PPO regime contains several punitive factors, but is not presumptively a penalty. No declaration of inconsistency is made in relation to PPOs.