Tristan Barker appeals assault conviction

By Dana Kinita -
Tristan Barker. FILE
Tristan Barker. FILE

Former Rotorua teen Tristan Barker is appealing his assault conviction for striking an Australian reporter twice in the head.

Barker's lawyer, Bill Lawson, appeared on behalf of his client in the High Court at Rotorua today before Justice Edwin Wylie.

Mr Lawson submitted the assessment by Judge Maree Mackenzie when sentencing Barker was "incorrect."

Barker, 19, was convicted in the Rotorua District Court last September and ordered to pay $500 emotional harm reparation to his victim, Dave Eccleston, who had travelled to Rotorua to interview him about his controversial online activity.

Barker is now based in Melbourne and did not appear in court yesterday. He is the son of Michael Barker, a former drummer for Split Enz and The John Butler Trio.

Mr Lawson said Judge Mackenzie used factors in the victim impact statement to discount the mitigating factors.

Mr Lawson said factors not properly assessed were the context leading up to the incident, that his client had been "goaded" before the offence, his youth, that restorative justice was offered, his offer to make amends, the plea of guilty and evidence of his good character.

His conviction may jeopardise his ability to travel the United States for future work or education purposes, Mr Lawson said.

"What you have is a young man with real promise, he is a talented sportsman and clearly well regarded in the entertainment industry. He is not just someone who is going to make it but is actually on the road.

"There is no definite plan at this time of future travel to the USA but what is identified is the appreciable situation where that could occur."

Crown prosecutor Andrew Hill said he did not accept the victim provoked the attack as the summary of facts stated Mr Eccleston was struck once on the side of the face and a second time to the back of his head.

"These were the actions of a man not provoking anything but the actions of a man to walk away and take the high road," Mr Hill said.

"The end sentence was conviction and reparation of $500, clearly the mitigating factors were taken on board. The overall assessment of the gravity by Her Honour was correct."

Mr Hill said Judge Mackenzie was right to discount Barker's future need to travel as it was more "possible and maybe" rather than real and appreciable.

Justice Wylie reserved his decision and, if there are no delays, it will be released in about 10 days.

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