A Cobden man who admitted saying, "you spy, you die" during a phone call to the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) has been convicted in the Greymouth District Court of misusing a telephone.
Paul Thomas Bradford, 48, defended himself last Friday in a judge-alone trial before Judge Stephen O'Driscoll.
He claimed in evidence he had been subject to "home invasion by telephone" after discovering that his phone had been bugged during investigations into 1080 poisoning threats.
"I've been on an emotional rollercoaster and feel I have been held to psychological ransom," Bradford told the judge.
"The end of privacy is the end of freedom."
Judge O'Driscoll warned of the need for "harsh deterrents" to dissuade this kind of offending. On the other hand, Bradford was "clearly passionate" about having been bugged.
"I think this was an aberration, a one-off incident," the judge said, before convicting Bradford and ordering him to come up for sentence in 12 months if called.
When Bradford called the SIS on October 17 last year he told a telephone receptionist "you spy, you die".
When police arrived at his door shortly afterwards, Bradford said it proved that his calls were being bugged because he had withheld his phone number prior to calling the SIS.
Bradford recounted the distress at being grilled as a 'person of interest' after Fonterra and Federated Farmers received 1080-laced packets of infant formula in November 2015.
Bradford said he had never been involved in anti-1080 groups and had voluntarily co-operated with the inquiry, but later discovered his phone calls were being monitored, he said.
"I found out through my phone provider that my phone was being bugged; that I was being spied on."
Bradford told police how West Coast residents had unjustly been "paying the price" of the infant formula scare.
When interviewed, he agreed government services would take idle threats more seriously following the shooting of Ashburton Winz staff, although he also said he was "being made the baddy".
"I take offence to being categorised as someone with mental health [issues] going into Winz and killing someone," Bradford said.
Those who worked for the SIS could expect calls, he said, and "if you can't handle the heat, you shouldn't be in the kitchen". If pushed, "you're going to get a reaction".
Bradford offered no cross-examination but noted the police had been courteous throughout.
"It's a shame the New Zealand Police have become the NZ SIS' whipping boy," he said.
In defence, he produced his telephone book with the number withholding section highlighted.
Bradford also produced a news recording of former Prime Minister John Key on the abhorrence of spying on New Zealand citizens in relation to Kim Dotcom.
Bradford told Judge O'Driscoll he was convinced the SIS and police operated in tandem.
"When I was phoned by the New Zealand police investigator I asked him, 'how do they get my phone number?' There was a big long pause."
Summing up, Judge O'Driscoll concluded that Bradford's misuse of the phone was "annoying with malicious intent".
- Greymouth Star