The son of the woman whose Rottweiler dog attacked and seriously injured a Tauranga vet has been ordered to disable two Facebook pages that contained threats towards the vet and her business.
Ryan Tarawhiti-Brown (AKA Ryan Brown) ran and promoted a Facebook page called Team Chopper in support of his mother Helen Fraser’s legal battle to save her dog Chopper.
Chopper was euthanised following a court order handed down on August 21 by Judge David Cameron after he convicted Fraser of being the owner of a dog that attacked and seriously injured Holistic Vets co-owner Dr Liza Schneider.
The attack happened in the carpark of her Fraser St practice on October 14, 2022.
Schneider was left with serious injuries after Chopper bit her arm, including a broken bone in her forearm, and deep tissue damage and nerve damage.
She required surgery and her arm took several months to heal.
Following Fraser’s conviction, Schneider sought a takedown order after she told the court she and her practice had been the subject of constant online harassment and threats since October 2021.
Schneider said comments posted on the Team Chopper Facebook page included threats, harassment and derogatory and abusive comments.
In an affidavit, Schneider said her Google account had also been bombarded with fake reviews which she alleged were incited by the Team Chopper page.
Court documents obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times confirm an interim judgment was made by Judge Lance Rowe on August 30 which ordered the page be taken down and any references to Schneider removed. She also asked for a written apology. This order was previously suppressed.
During a second court hearing on October 25, Tarawhiti-Brown’s lawyer Bev Edwards told Judge Cameron it was accepted her client had not complied with this order to take down the page.
Edwards said her client had instead changed the nature of the page to help promote the rights of cats and dogs, and no criticism or abuse of Schneider or Holistic Vets was made by her client in those posts.
Tarawhiti-Brown had filed an affidavit to similar effect, court documents show.
Schneider argued the change in tone had not prevented others from posting derogatory comments about her.
This included posts on September 23, which stated she should be “prosecuted for negligence”, “sucked” at her job and should lose her licence.
Edwards also submitted that Schneider was prepared to use social media to her own advantage when it suited, her and cited an online article published in June.
In Judge Cameron’s written judgement, dated November 13, Tarawhiti-Brown, who lives in Australia, was ordered to immediately disable or take down his two Facebook pages.
The judge ruled the digital communications on the Facebook pages had been “threatening” to Schneider and “amount to harassment of her”, and also caused her “ongoing psychological harm”.
Judge Cameron also ordered Tarawhiti-Brown to refrain from making any digital communications about Schneider or identifying her or her business directly or indirectly, and not to encourage any other person to do so.
The judge said it was accepted by Schneider that removal orders against Facebook/Meta were “fraught with difficulties”, including jurisdictional ones, and discontinued the takedown application against those organisations.
The judge did not order Tarawhiti-Brown to apologise to Schneider and lifted the suppression orders by consent of both parties, who had to pay their own legal costs.
Schneider and the NZ Veterinary Association, which has been supporting her, declined to comment on these court orders.
Tarawhiti-Brown was also approached for comment about Judge Cameron’s ruling.
In a written reply, he said; “What is important is helping the animal rescue community who are at a crisis point with too many animals needing rescue and homes with no government funding.
“This is what I have been trying to help with over the past two years and it’s just not getting enough attention.”
Sandra Conchie is a senior journalist at the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post who has been a journalist for 24 years. She mainly covers police, court and other justice stories, as well as general news. She has been a Canon Media Awards regional/community reporter of the year.