Coroner bans media from reporting all evidence in Shargin Stephens inquiry

AMBERLEY, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 10: A police officer stops a car at a checkpoint on April 10, 2020 in Amberley, New Zealand. With New Zealand in lockdown due to COVID-19, police are setting up checkpoints across the country to ensure people on the roads are travelling for essential purposes only. The Easter long weekend is a popular time for New Zealanders to go on holiday, however current Level 4 restrictions in place due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic requires everyone to remain at the place of residence they were in as of midnight 25 March when New Zealand went into lockdown. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
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By Guyon Espiner for RNZ

A coroner has banned media from reporting all evidence in the inquiry into the death of Rotorua man Shargin Stephens, who was shot by police.

It comes after RNZ revealed significant discrepancies in the official story of the police shooting.

Stephens was shot and killed in July 2016 after smashing up an empty police car with a weed slasher.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority report said the shooting was justified but the police's own investigation contradicted many of the findings in the IPCA report.

Now, two days after RNZ's story was published, Hamilton Coroner J P Ryan has issued an interim order prohibiting any evidence presented to the inquiry into Stephens' death from being published.

The order was made under section 74 of the Coroner's Act, which allows a Coroner to ban publication of evidence if they believe it is in the interests of "justice, decency, public order or personal privacy" to do so.

Coroner Ryan's order is wide ranging and applies to any minutes issued by the coroner, memos filed by lawyers and any evidence or submissions relating to any part of proceedings.

The Coroner said the order was made on the grounds that it was in the "interests of justice and personal privacy".

He said the reasons for his decision were set out in a separate minute but a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said that document was covered by the prohibition order so could not be released.

Stephens, a 35-year-old Māori man, was on electronically monitored bail when he was shot in 2016.

Despite this, the police bail checked him 64 times in the five weeks leading up to the shooting, sometimes three or even four times a day.

Fifteen of these times they went to his house between 11pm and 6am.