Accused, 62, calls law heavy handed

By Lynley Bilby, Rob Kidd

'Dave' now faces up to two-years in prison or a $50,000 fine. Photo / Getty
'Dave' now faces up to two-years in prison or a $50,000 fine. Photo / Getty

With the term "cyber bully" conjuring up images of a schoolboy behind a keyboard, an engineer in his 60s doesn't exactly fit the mould.

But Dave* found himself before the Waitakere District Court for the first time in his life in April, charged with causing his former partner harm in relation to an email he had sent.

He was not impressed with how the police had handled the situation and described their use of the Harmful Digital Communications Act as "heavy-handed".


"I'm really really really p****d off at the system," he said.

Dave now faces as much as two years in jail or a $50,000 fine under the new legislation but he was committed to fighting the charge to clear his name.

"At 62-years-old I could be defined as a criminal. This whole thing is wrong."

Justice Minister Amy Adams is hailing the act a success with 38 people prosecuted as of last Thursday. Of those 19 have been through the courts and 19 were still being processed. The range of actions that has been caught by the new legislation is seemingly wide. While some have been collared for publicly posting explicit photos of ex-partners on social media sites, others have been pinged over allegedly harmful private emails or text messages.

Ms Adams said she was surprised at the large number of prosecutions, indicating the act was long overdue.

"I'm very proud of the legislation we have.

"In the time the law has been passed the real necessity for this legislation has become even clearer and the people who said we didn't need this law early on seem to have gone strangely silent."

Dave broke up with his wife after more than a decade of marriage. Tensions mounted as they attempted to share custody of their daughter.

Dave said his former wife sent him some x-rated photos of herself telling him she was "embracing her body".

In a vitriolic email exchange days later, she claimed he had threatened to send the pictures to other people. He accepted some of his messages were "not nice" but vehemently denied any allegation he had been threatening.

"Her emails caused me emotional distress as well."

Now the alleged cyber bully was on bail, unable to see his daughter and had already shelled out $15,000 on lawyer's fees.

* Real name withheld to protect potential fair-trial rights

Where to get help:

• In an emergency: call 111
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633, or text 234 (available 24/7) or or live chat (between 7pm and 11pm)
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 (weekdays 11am to 5pm)
• NetSafe: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723),

- NZ Herald

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