An alleged offender who is currently detained off the West Coast will have to appear in the Greymouth District Court next month despite submissions from his lawyer that he does not enjoy the prison van trip.

Eric Reihana Hepi did not appear in court on Tuesday but entered not guilty pleas via his lawyer Marcus Zintl to charges of assault, two of assaulting a female, injuring with intent and assault with a blunt instrument.

Zintl told Judge Emma Smith that Hepi, who is currently detained in Otago, elected trial by jury.

However, Judge Smith was unimpressed at Hepi not appearing and asked why he had been excused, particularly when he was electing trial by jury.


Zintl said it was because Hepi did not enjoy the trip over the hill in the confines of a prison van.

Because there was a High Court jury trial in Greymouth this week it was not possible to arrange an audio visual link (AVK) so Hepi could appear by video from Dunedin.

"If he doesn't like the trip, so that's the basis?" the judge said. "It's a serious matter to elect a jury trial. It's not something I really do."

Judge Smith remanded Hepi for a case review hearing in the Greymouth District Court on March 28.

"His appearance is not excused that day, even if AVL is not available."

- Greymouth Star