Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Angry grandma pays up, refuses to apologise

But she refuses to apologise for TV assault.

Rene Trigg, 66, says she 'lost it' over the wheel-clamper's attitude. Photo / Supplied
Rene Trigg, 66, says she 'lost it' over the wheel-clamper's attitude. Photo / Supplied

She spat in his face and repeatedly hit him in the head with her handbag - but pensioner Rene Trigg reckons she was just bait in a fight between a wheel-clamper and New Plymouth police.

Footage shown on TV3 this week of the Taranaki grandmother's angry reaction to finding her car had been clamped in a New Plymouth carpark sparked plenty of negative reaction - one internet poster even describing her as "a hateful old bag".

Trigg, who spells her name on her Facebook page Rene despite official records showing it is Rina, said she "was angry about being set up" for the 3rd Degree show.

Speaking from the family business yesterday, Mike's Organic Brewery, she confirmed she had pleaded guilty to assault in the wake of the incident and was convicted, fined $200 and ordered to pay court costs.

But the defiant pensioner was still refusing to apologise for attacking clamper Daniel Clout, who needed medical treatment for an open head wound and bruising.

"I'm sorry for losing my temper, that's what I'm sorry for. I've got nothing against being clamped. My objection to the whole situation was the man's manner, that's what infuriated me. He's armed with a dog and he shouts to you through a one inch gap in his window.

"Afterwards I just realised he was using me as a bait for his fight against the police."

Police have formally warned Clout he is acting unlawfully by not having a licence. He had clamped police cars and wound up many people in the region.

Trigg said the tipping point came when Clout put a second clamp on her car. "That's when I lost it."

"In no way did I bait her. I was just trying to do my job and she viciously attacked me," said Clout.

The 66-year-old, who is from Namibia but moved to New Zealand 10 years ago, did not see Clout's injuries but said her handbag and the purse inside it were tiny.

She described herself as "shaken and upset" after the attack.

"But you know what, I'm a bigger person than that. That man and his way of doing things does not define who I am as a person."

Her first-ever appearance in court was "nerve-wracking", but she was buoyed by support from the community, including those who offered to help pay her fine, Trigg said.

Clout's wife, Jess, said the attack had nothing to do with her husband's manner and Trigg had not been baited. "You can see in the video that right at the start she's going ballistic," Jess said.

- NZ Herald

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