Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Man who spat at Paul Henry will have to pay $250

The last straw for Paul Henry was when Diego Chavez spat on and pushed him. Photo / Greg Bowker
The last straw for Paul Henry was when Diego Chavez spat on and pushed him. Photo / Greg Bowker

A man who spat at Paul Henry then later defaced MediaWorks headquarters with slurs about the presenter will have to pay him $250, despite his protestations.

The incident of wilful damage at the Flower St premises came just hours after 35-year-old Diego Chavez was found guilty of assaulting the controversial personality on December 2.

The graffiti featured anarchy symbolism as well as phrases such as "racist scum", "Paul Henry pice of s***" (sic) and "smash the fash".

Chavez - also known as Christian Marcel Cebolledo-Gutierrez - first came to the attention of authorities at a protest outside Prime Minister John Key's post-Budget speech at Auckland's SkyCity events centre on May 22.

The court heard evidence at a trial in November that the defendant ran around police officers, launched himself at Mr Henry and spat at him, hitting him on the neck.
Judge David Sharp described it as a "contemptuous act".

"That act to me, while not in the same category as punching or kicking someone, was humiliating," he said.

Chavez's lawyer, Luke Wilson, said his client was opposed to shelling out any money for Henry but Judge Sharp was adamant the victim should be compensated.

The 35-year-old was also ordered to pay MediaWorks $632, which will be done at $50 a fortnight because of the defendant's "limited means".

At trial, Mr Henry said he was suddenly confronted by a screaming mob of "semi-deranged people" as he was on the way to attend a charity lunch.

Diego Chavez is opposed to shelling out any money for Paul Henry but Judge Sharp is adamant the presenter should be compensated. Photo / Greg Bowker
Diego Chavez is opposed to shelling out any money for Paul Henry but Judge Sharp is adamant the presenter should be compensated. Photo / Greg Bowker

"It was very threatening, extraordinarily threatening," he said.

"That's the huge issue for me. It was very aggressive. A couple of them were screaming at me right in my face, literally just standing there right in my face. So the options were reducing and it felt like it was becoming more and more inflamed."

Then as he was shepherded away, he was allegedly attacked.

"From behind, someone spat on me and I was pushed. For me that was the final straw. People have a right to protest, and expression is very important and should be upheld. But this was way beyond where people should go," Mr Henry told the court.

In an interview with police, Chavez described Henry as a "racist".

When officers suggested he had taken the opportunity in the melee to attack the victim, he said: "What I say is that if he's going to walk on the street with his bigotry and making fun of people, that's going to happen."

The court heard how Chavez had no previous convictions and Judge Sharp sentenced him to 200 hours community work.

- NZ Herald

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