A 21-year-old man who went to trial earlier this year over multiple allegations of sexual assault at the Labour Party summer camp has been discharged without conviction.
He reached a plea deal with the case's prosecutors mid-trial after initially facing a jury charged with five counts of indecent assault, which related to four people - two men and two women.
He pleaded guilty to two amended charges of assault under the Summary Offences Act following events which occurred at the young Labour event near Waihi in February 2018.
The assault charges were in relation to the two men, while the charges against the two women were dismissed.
Today, dressed in a blue suit and white shirt, he was sentenced in the Auckland District Court by Judge Russell Collins.
The judge discharged the young man without conviction.
During the August trial he was accused of having grabbed and squeezed a man's testicles, touched another man's genitals twice, kissed a woman on her neck and face and groped a second woman's breast and bottom.
Judge Collins said the gravity of the offending is low, which may shock people because of the nature of the allegations.
"I'm not convinced it was for a sexual gratification or any perverted motive," he said.
Rather, the judge continued, the offending - while not an excuse - was "born out of drunken stupidity".
"It may well have been indecent but that is no longer part of the charge."
Speaking to one of the victims sitting in court, Judge Collins said he hoped - like all judges - for the power to "put victims back to the position in their lives prior to the offending".
"I accepted everything you had to say, I had no difficulty as the judge in believing you," he said of both victims, whom he said were impressive young men.
The judge also said that everything he'd read about the offender, but for the night at the summer camp, showed he too was an impressive young man.
"I have obvious sympathy for him in the position he found himself on account of his own drunken stupidity."
But, Judge Collins and the man's lawyer Emma Priest debated whether he should be named publicly.
Priest said there had been "extreme media" coverage of the case and the "highly political nature of the prosecution will be linked to other political news for political reasons".
Further sexual assault allegations in the Labour Party this year have already been linked back to the young man, Priest said.
If named, Priest continued, he client faced a "lifetime of Google searches".
But Judge Collins was not satisfied the young man will be "burdened or blighted" by the summer camp scandal and declined to make a permanent name suppression order.
Priest, however, said she had instructions to appeal the decision - leading to an interim suppression order until a High Court hearing is held.
After being arrested in June 2018, the young man was initially charged with six counts of indecent assault, however, some of the allegations against him were also dropped in September last year.
During the trial the court heard there was heavy drinking at the camp.
There was "excessive amounts of alcohol", one of the victims said, while people were "not drinking for enjoyment but drinking to get absolutely hammered".
He said the night, which began with a quiz, "was just a glorified piss-up".
The jury was also shown cellphone videos of the party, which displayed raucous festivities.
One video had the caption: "The Labour Party is cooler and likes alcohol more than you think."
Priest had told the jury her client was "a young man at a party caught up in a political storm".
After the trial, Crown prosecutor David Johnstone and Priest butted heads publicly over what the plea deal meant for each party.
Priest said her client "is not a sexual offender and appropriately the Crown have now recognised that".
But Johnstone replied: "It is not correct to say that the Crown accepts there was no sexual offending."
Maria Austen, a Wellington lawyer, conducted an external review of Labour Party procedures after the allegations were made.
Austen's report included several recommendations, however, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the report will not be publicly released while the court proceedings were ongoing.
Ardern spoke to those at the camp the day before the allegations.
Former Labour Party president Nigel Haworth, who quit in September as further sexual assault allegations came to light within the party, earlier said all the recommendations of the Austen report would be implemented.