A man who was sentenced to 300 hours of community work by a judge he called a c*** on Facebook has had his sentence reduced by the High Court.
Troy William Henry LaRue commented on Facebook earlier this year on an article about the now retired Taranaki District Court Judge Allan Roberts, calling him a "f****** c***" with a "saggy chin".
Just weeks later LaRue found himself in court facing unpaid motor vehicle fines to the tune of $6244 and was forced to face Judge Roberts, who was sitting at the bench that day, The Spinoff reported.
After a rapid lesson in manners delivered by Judge Roberts, LaRue was sentenced to 300 hours of community work and made to wait in the cells while his order was typed up.
That sentence has since been sliced following appeal efforts by LaRue's lawyers after questions were raised around the way in which Judge Roberts reached his sentence, Fairfax reported.
During the initial hearing court transcripts showed Judge Roberts making LaRue read his Facebook comments aloud.
The court: "Read it out loud."
After some understandable hesitation from Mr LaRue read out: "LOL I hope the f***** has gone by Friday. Ha ha. F*****, nah f***** c*** whose old face and saggy chin. F*** off."
The court: "Who were you talking about when you talk about, "The f****** old c*** with the saggy old chin?"
Mr LaRue: "Well I guess I was talking about you sir."
The court: "You're a brave soul though aren't you?"
Mr La Rue replied: "Well, all I can say is that you got me on that one."
"I got you cold mate," Mr Roberts replied.
Justice Robert Dobson, who heard LaRue's appeal, said the way the matter had been handled was "inappropriate".
"However amusing these exchanges may have been for the interested bystander, it is an inappropriate way to deal with a matter of unpaid fines.
"Predictably, counsel argued on the appeal that the judge set the number of hours community work, taking into account the irrelevant consideration of Mr La Rue's derogatory comments about him," he told Fairfax.
Justice Dobson said LaRue should be subject to "some leniency" because of the "overbearing way in which the matter was dealt with in the district court".
LaRue's original sentence has now been replaced by an order of 200 hours of community service.
His representative, Megan Boyd, said she was pleased with the outcome.
The decision has however been slammed by the Sensible Sentencing Trust, which said it allowed offenders to believe they could say what ever they liked and get away with it.