Stanton found guilty of assault

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Trafalgar St protestor Lewis Stanton has been found guilty of assault at the Nelson District Court today.

Mr Stanton, who likes to be known as Hone Ma Heke, was facing one charge of common assault after an incident on Trafalgar St on November 20 last year.

The incident occurred after an anti-Lewis protest march down Trafalgar St ended outside Farmers, where Mr Stanton camps. A verbal stouch began between the protestors and Mr Stanton before Mr Stanton threw a punch at protest organiser Ru Dawson.

The altercation was captured on camera by a Nelson Weekly journalist.

That footage was used in court today as evidence.

Mr Stanton was defended in court by Nelson lawyer Steven Zindel. He argued that Mr Stanton’s actions were in self-defence because one of his cardboard boxes was kicked.

Mr Stanton told the court that he reacted to protect his property and himself.

“Ru and I were having some fairly sharp words then he kicked my box. He had absolutely no right to kick my box so I defended myself with one slug.

“When he kicked it I didn’t know if I would be next, or where he was going to stop.”

However, Judge Mill ruled that Mr Stanton was the aggressor and the threat to personal safety was not enough to warrant his reaction.

“I find that Mr Stanton was not acting in self-defence, as seen in the footage. Mr Stanton was the aggressor.

“The situation could have been diffused in a different way,” he said.

Mr Stanton will be sentenced on April 20 and could be facing jail time, or a suspended sentence.

Judge Mill said if sent to prison, Mr Stanton will only come back once released. “I have sent him to prison before and it was an action of futility. Whatever I do, I don’t believe it will stop him doing what he wants to do.”

Mr Stanton said he will not participate in community service as it is against his beliefs.