Christchurch mosque attack terrorist has review of prison conditions dismissed

By Amy Williams for RNZ

A judicial review of the Christchurch mosque shooter's prison conditions has been abandoned in the High Court in Auckland, after asking to have the matter heard behind closed doors.

Brenton Tarrant is serving a life sentence without parole for murdering 51 people in the 2019 massacre.

He is in isolation in maximum security and Wednesday's hearing was against Corrections and the Attorney-General in relation to his status as an at-risk prisoner.

The terrorist appeared by audio visual link in court with the camera turned off.

Before the hearing, his lawyer, Todd Simmonds, asked Justice Venning to exclude the media and members of the public from the hearing.

Simmonds told the court any publicity on the matter would cause "undue humiliation and embarrassment".

He said it could also cause prejudice on his client within the prison environment, including how he may be treated by Corrections.

"Corrections would very likely not relax any of the current conditions of what is already an extremely draconian management plan if there's any publicity in relation to this application," Simmonds said.

Crown lawyer Austin Powell opposed the application.

He said the terrorist was already subject to intense monitoring and that would not change if the matter was heard in open court.

"The fact that there's publicity is not going to alter how those decisions are made."

Powell said the courtroom doors needed to remain open to the media to report on what goes on.

Justice Venning declined the application.

He told the court the principal of open justice prevailed and that any humiliation or embarrassment the terrorist may feel were "speculative" and was not sufficient to justify closing the court.

Simmonds then asked for an adjournment, and after a short break returned to tell Justice Venning he had instructions to abandon the application for a judicial review of the terrorist's prison conditions.

He also asked that the hearing be suppressed due to the "inevitable humiliation and distress" any media coverage would cause.

Justice Venning declined the application.