The conviction of a Northern Ireland man who was sentenced to a year in prison for threatening to kill New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was overturned this week.
Ichael Cruickshank was convicted of making death threats against Ms Arden in March this year.
Prosecutors said the 56-year-old sent 88 lengthy emails to government officials in 2019 and 2020, calling them criminals, slave traders and state-sanctioned terrorists.
But it was two emails he sent in January 2020 that crossed a line with threats of violence.
In one, Mr Cruickshank threatened to blow Ardern’s head off, and in another he said he would “personally wipe you off this damn planet,” The New Zealand Herald reported at the time.
Judge Brooke Gibson said former worker Mr Cruickshank, who immigrated to New Zealand from Northern Ireland in the 1990s, was not a good candidate for detention at home.
Mr Cruickshank argued that he was so drunk he could not remember sending the emails.
The judge had said at the time that poisoning was not a defense.
However, the court ruled that “intoxication may be taken into account in assessing whether a defendant had the requisite intent.”
Failure to make this clear to the jury left them “in doubt as to the relevance of Mr. Cruickshank’s alleged intoxication, if any”.
The court therefore ruled that there had been a miscarriage of justice and overturned his conviction. They didn’t order a retrial.
In June it was reported that threats against Ms Ardern had nearly tripled in three years, which police said was due to a rise in conspiracy movements and a backlash against vaccination.
Ms Ardern was initially praised for her cautious response to the Covid-19 pandemic and this week she scrapped the remaining rules she had enacted to contain the virus, ending two and a half years of strict restrictions.
Last year, New Zealand police dealt with 50 threats against the prime minister, according to data released to Newshub under the Official Information Act.
The documents suggested that anti-vaccination sentiment was a key trigger for a range of threats, alongside opposition to new firearms laws following the Christchurch Mosque attacks in 2019.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-man-who-threatened-to-kill-new-zealand-pm-jacinda-ardern-has-one-year-prison-conviction-overturned-42086265.html Northern Ireland man who threatened to kill New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has one-year prison conviction overturned