A man incensed at the Government's restrictions on people who had not received the Covid-19 vaccination threatened to assassinate the Prime Minister.
The 30-year-old Taranaki man, who has name suppression, was arrested after he posted the threat against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Reddit, a social news website and forum comprising user-generated content.
His was one of two separate cases heard in New Plymouth District Court on Friday relating to threats and abuse directed at the Prime Minister and Government officials.
The first man, who has complex mental health issues, lives at his mother's house, where he spends much of his time on his computer.
He has limited interaction with society and struggled to be socially appropriate when he did.
His legs visibly shook and he fumbled for words as he addressed Judge Gregory Hikaka.
"... I use the computer for the internet to keep up-to-date with, um, world topics, um, world events," he told the judge.
His lengthy time spent on the device has become a concern for his mother, who was also worried about her son's "rage", she told police.
Justifying her concern were the man's actions on November 12, 2021, when he made the threat to kill the Prime Minister.
In the post, he called Ardern a number of profanities and said in "assassinating" her, he would be sending a message to other politicians.
The man's post also expressed his anger at the Government's Covid-19 response.
He acknowledged he wasn't being physically forced to have the vaccination but felt he was "being bribed with vouchers and the likes, and being threatened to get vaxxed or face consequences".
At the time, the vaccine pass system imposed restrictions, such as not being able to enter shops and venues, on those who could not provide proof of their vaccination status. Those restrictions were scrapped last month.
When spoken to by police, the man said he had no specific plan to carry out his threat but thought he would approach Ardern, shake her hand and then "bite her throat, aiming for her jugular".
The man was not apologetic for making the threat, he told police.
In court, he faced sentencing on a charge of threatening to kill/do grievous bodily harm.
He was also being sentenced on one charge each of possession of a cannabis plant and wilful damage.
Judge Hikaka asked the man if he would now be prepared to apologise to the Prime Minister.
"No, because I ... what I said was over the line but it wasn't a direct threat. I did overstep, I did go a bit too far with the words I used," he responded.
"It was a momentary lapse of judgment because I was just quite angry with her ..." he said, being interrupted by Judge Hikaka who reframed the question, asking if he would apologise for stepping "over the line".
"Uh yeah ... I um ..." he said, cut off again by the judge.
"You don't need to explain any further because you've already said you went over the line and that's why you pleaded guilty to the charge of threatening," Judge Hikaka said.
On all charges, the man was sentenced to 18 months' intensive supervision.
The judge advised the man to change his behaviour so that when he gets frustrated or angry he doesn't go overboard.
"You know where the line is."
Shortly afterwards, another man appeared before Judge Hikaka for sending more than 240 threatening emails to Parliament.
In the emails, sent between October 2021 and December 2021, Lachlan Cryer threatened to "burn down forests".
Due to the frequency and inappropriate content, which included abuse directed at the Prime Minister, the emails were forwarded to Parliamentary Security.
During that same period, Cryer also emailed the Office of the Commissioner of Police and again threatened to burn down forests.
It was not clear which forests Cryer, who lives 90km north of New Plymouth in Awakino, was taking aim at.
Nor was it clear the exact motivation behind his emails, but Judge Hikaka said Cryer had felt he was not being listened to after his growing frustration over issues with "internet connection", to which Cryer said: "Communication".
But he never intended to act on the threats, the court was told.
On a representative charge of threatening to damage property, he was sentenced to 12 months' supervision.
Cryer offered to write apology letters to those he had offended against at Parliament, but Judge Hikaka advised him to do that through his lawyer.
"Some of these people might not want to hear from you."