An Auckland man who allegedly threatened to blow the Prime Minister's head off and "personally wipe" Jacinda Ardern "off this planet" claims he doesn't remember sending the death threats via email and was "completely wasted" at the time.
The Crown alleges Michael Cruickshank, in his 50s, regularly referred to the Prime Minister and Government as criminals, slave traders and state-sanctioned terrorists among some 88 lengthy emails he sent between October 2019 and January 2020.
But he is standing trial in relation specifically to two emails, sent on January 20, 2020, in which he threatened to kill Ardern and Andrew Little, Justice Minister at the time.
"This was an instance of frustration boiling over," Crown prosecutor Dennis Dow said.
"He's entitled to freedom of expression but what he's not entitled to do is to go too far.
"You can't go around threatening to kill people, whether it be the Prime Minister, or your neighbour Bob."
Police carried out a search warrant in Cruickshank's bedroom on January 23, 2020 and seized a laptop and three cellphones.
He was arrested at the scene and charged with three counts of threatening to kill.
One email aimed at Ardern stated: "If you continue to support state terrorism ... and declare act of war on my life ... I will personally wipe you off this f***ing planet."
The email was also sent to a range of other recipients, including ACC staff, media organisations and then British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Another one aimed at Ardern and Little, sent half an hour later, read: "I will blow your ... head off if your gas lighting on my life continues.
"You have kids who want to see you grow old, as do I. I suggest you place that into proper perspective."
Cruickshank harbours a personal grievance with ACC dating back 20 years, the court heard, after a workplace incident. This fuelled the angry emails.
He suffered from PTSD and had a lot of "frustration" with ACC over not being offered rehabilitation, the jury heard in a police interview played to the court.
But he claimed he did not recall sending the emails that included death threats, and called them "very, very strange" and "out of character".
"I wouldn't usually say 'I will blow your f***ing head off', I wouldn't say that to anybody," he said in the police interview.
"I'm not taking responsibility for emails that are ... not written by me and not written the way I would write emails."
He said he hadn't left the house in weeks, or months.
Defence counsel John Mather told the jury his client uses "colourful and expressive language in ... seeking justice and accountability, closure in respect to an injury he received all that time ago".
He mentioned that in one of Cruickshank's own emails he wrote: "Sure at times I let my mouth get the better of me", but urged the jury to focus on the intention behind the emails.
The correspondence never reached Ardern or Little, the court heard. Parliament staff familiar with Cruickshank and his emails reported them to police.
One staffer who vets correspondence at the Prime Minister's office said she first came across Cruickshank when he sent emails to former prime minister Helen Clark in the late 2000s.
The woman, who has name suppression, said his emails "are usually angry but not threatening", and that's why she reported the two emails that included death threats.
Judge Brooke Gibson warned jurors at Auckland District Court to put aside the fact that the complainants are "prominent people".
Cruickshank was allowed to sit outside the dock to use headphones to listen to the proceedings. At one point he held his head in his hands.
Cruickshank pleaded not guilty to three charges of threatening to kill in May last year.
He will be giving evidence to the jury tomorrow.
This is not the only time Ardern has been the target of sinister emails.
A 30-year-old Auckland man was charged with threatening to kill Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in April.
A Northern Ireland man was sentenced to community service for sending online death threats to Jacinda Ardern in 2019.
Matthew Burns, 20, tweeted a photo of a gun to the Prime Minister after the Christchurch mosque attacks, adding "you're next".
An Australian man who posted online threats to attack a mosque in Newcastle, NSW, and kill Ardern was jailed for 10 months in June 2020.
Cormac Patrick Rothsey pleaded guilty in Newcastle District Court to charges of posting the extremist threats on social media.