18 Jul 2017

Police officer revealed as stalker

2:19 pm on 18 July 2017

A judge has revealed it was a police officer who was sentenced to community service and fined $15,000 for stalking a man in Dunedin after a minor dispute over a parking ticket.

Close up of a police officer at an incident on a residential street. 6 July 2016.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

High Court judge David Gendall overturned the decision to suppress information about the occupation of Jeremy Buis, who was convicted on charges of criminal harassment, wilful damage and threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm.

Police have said as well as his sentence, in April, Buis had been suspended with full pay for two and a half years.

Buis subjected his victim Daniel Pryde to a two-and-a-half year campaign of serious harassment after a minor dispute over a parking ticket.

In his decision released yesterday, Justice David Gendall said Buis parked outside Mr Pryde's business premises in June 2012 and Mr Pryde complained to the Dunedin City Council which issued Buis with a parking ticket.

Buis began to harrass Mr Pryde, vandalising public spaces with phrases suggesting Mr Pryde was gay, and leaving his contact details at places known to be popular for gay men to meet.

The judge said Mr Pryde also received "disturbing texts and images from unknown numbers".

"The victim also received a courier bag of male sex toys at his work premises. The courier bag had no sender's detail," the judgement said.

District Court Judge Paul Kellar sentenced Buis in April to 200 hours of community service and ordered him to pay $15,000 in reparations.

He lifted Buis' name suppression, but ordered his occupation remain suppressed.

Media outlets appealed the decision to the High Court, and Justice Gendall overturned Judge Kellar's decision.

He said the grounds on which Judge Kellar granted suppression were "generally unclear", but "presumably it was to protect the integrity of the police".

"By law, a court may not order a blanket ban on the publication of a group or class of persons without being satisfied that each and every individual of that group or class is likely to suffer either undue or extreme hardship," Justice Gendall said.

He did not accept defence lawyer Anne Stevens' submission that publication of Buis' occupation would prejudice people against police.

"Giving special treatment is contrary to the rule of law and the interests of open justice," he said.

Justice Gendall noted that police took a neutral position on suppression of Buis' job.

Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said Buis had been suspended on full pay since February 2015 and was now going through an internal employment investigation, which was likely to take some time.

"The actions of Buis, as described during the court hearing were extremely disappointing," he said.

He said the police enquiry team "worked tirelessly to ensure the case was fully investigated and all facets were looked into".

"The behaviour outlined in the court case is not reflective of the good work that is done by officers in the wider Dunedin community every day.

"Every officer knows that the actions of one can impact on the reputation of the whole, which is why the public can be assured these types of matters are investigated to the highest standard," he said.

The Police Association has refused to comment.