Urewera pair to serve time at home

By Edward Gay

Urs Signer and Emily Bailey in the High Court in Auckland during the trial of the Urewera Four. Photo / NZ Herald
Urs Signer and Emily Bailey in the High Court in Auckland during the trial of the Urewera Four. Photo / NZ Herald

Urs Signer and Emily Bailey will appeal against their conviction and sentence of home detention for their part in the Urewera "military-style training camps''.

The couple - who have a child together - were sentenced in May to nine months of home detention but Justice Rodney Hansen asked for a probation service report on whether their home at Parihaka was suitable.

At the High Court at Auckland today, Justice Hansen said the service had found the pair could live at the settlement that was founded on the principal of passive resistance.

The court also heard this morning that the Crown wants the guns seized in police raids on the camps to be destroyed.

Outside court, lawyers for Signer and Bailey said they would be filing appeals against the conviction and sentence handed down to their clients.

"It's not ended yet. I suspect there is going to be some appeal notices filed,'' Bailey's lawyer Val Nisbet said.

Signer's lawyer Chris Stevenson said it had been a long process and the prosecution had been "excessive''.

"They're a bit worn out.''

Signer and Bailey were two of four people tried on firearms charges stemming from raids on the camps in the Tuhoe region in 2007.

Signer was found guilty of five firearms charges and not guilty of five. Bailey was found guilty of six firearms charges and not guilty of four.

The other members of the quartet, Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, were each sentenced to two and half years in prison after being found guilty of six firearms charges and not guilty of four.

Their sentencing ended with an impromptu haka and Iti being forcefully removed from the dock by security guards.

Crown prosecutor Ross Burns had asked for a jail sentence for all four, who he described as members of a group "preparing for serious violent offences''.

Defence lawyers argued their clients should be discharged without conviction or receive sentences of home detention or community detention.

They said the camps had been places to learn bushcraft and skills to get security work, but Justice Hansen said those explanations were "utterly implausible''.

He said it was a mystery why Iti had devoted so much time and money to developing "military capability'' when he had been actively involved in Tuhoe negotiations before the Waitangi Tribunal.

Although there were elements of the TV comedy show Dad's Army about the training, the intent was serious, he said.

He described the gatherings in the bush as "military-style camps''.

"As I view the evidence, in effect a private militia was being established. Whatever the justification, that is a frightening prospect in our society, undermining of our democratic institutions and anathema to our way of life.''

He said the actions had damaged the "growing but fragile'' trust between the Crown and Tuhoe.

Lawyers for Iti have also appealed against their client's sentence and conviction.

- APNZ

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