Sedition trial starts into axe attack on PM's office

A man facing charges including sedition after an axe attack on the Prime Minister's electoral office late in 2004 appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday.

Timothy Selwyn, 31, admitted one charge of conspiring to commit wilful damage when an axe was embedded in the window of Helen Clark's Mt Albert office between 4am and 6am on November 18, 2004.

He denied two other charges of being a party to a seditious conspiracy and publishing statements with seditious intent.

Police said that just after 6am on the morning of the incident, somebody called radio stations and newspapers to say pamphlets claiming responsibility for the axe attack had been dropped on Ponsonby Rd, 2km away.

Crown prosecutor David Johnstone told the jury Selwyn's actions were a protest against the Government's foreshore and seabed legislation.

The Crown called 12 witnesses, and also played to the jury the taped video evidence of Selwyn's first police interview on December 15, 2004, with Detective Constable Paul Lowry.

Mr Lowry told Selwyn police had found a partial fingerprint of his on one of the pamphlets, which Mr Lowry said were "seditious" and "inciting civil disobedience".

Mr Lowry also said the serial number from the Telecom phone card used in the calls to the media was traced to a petrol station on the same road as Selwyn's address.

Selwyn was shown a service station photograph of himself buying the card at 3.28am and responded with "that's interesting".

When Selwyn was asked to tell police about his involvement in the incident he replied: "Not much. I'm here to listen to what you're saying, it's more about me listening ... it's all very vague."

The trial moved faster than expected yesterday and Judge Josephine Bouchier reduced it to four days from eight.

The defence will open its case this morning.

- NZPA

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