Maximum fine for medal offence

By Peter Franklin of the Horowhenua Chronicle

Donald Moselen after his appearance in court today. Photo / Horowhenua chronicle
Donald Moselen after his appearance in court today. Photo / Horowhenua chronicle

The former president of an RSA who pleaded guilty to wearing Vietnam medals he was not entitled to has received the maximum sentence possible.

But the judge who sentenced Donald Moselen to a $500 fine said the law needed reviewing.

Judge Gerard Lynch's decision to impose the maximum fine and order Moselen to forfeit the medals he wore at Anzac Day services brought a sense of justice to Vietnam veterans who packed Levin District Court today.

Moselen, the former Otaki RSA president and Otaki Community Board chairman, had earlier pleading guilty to wearing medals he was not entitled to wear, namely the General Service medal, the Operational Medal, the South Vietnam medal and a replica of the Vietnam medal.

Standing in the dock he failed to acknowledge the Vietnam veterans who filled the public gallery.

Outside court Vietnam veteran David Page said he felt better now Moselen had been given the maximum penalty.

"If he wants to wear the medals does he want the diseases that go with them.'' Mr Page said.

But he said he did not understand why anyone would want to be associated with a war that in the finish had been so unpopular.

"We (Vietnam veterans) are a tight-knit group of people, what he has done has been insulting.''

Brian Gore, a Levin lawyer and Vietnam veteran who was wounded in the war, said he would have liked the chance to express the views of the Vietnam Association to the court but was denied.

Mr Gore said Moselen's actions had caused much distress and pointed out the maximum penalty in Australia is six months in prison.

Judge Lynch said the Act under which Moselen was charged needed revisiting and noted the case had been a long journey for Vietnam veterans who had suffered significant health difficulties.

Moselen's lawyer Daniel O'Neill told the court his client wore the medals because he felt entitled to do so.

He said Moselen claimed to have spent a month in the wartorn country in 1974, which he believed gave him the right to wear them.

Mr O'Neill added that when Moselen was elected president of the Otaki RSA it was made known that he was the first non-serving person to hold that role.

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