Logging company director has obstructing police conviction overturned by High Court due to 'impact on his mana'

  • 22/03/2024

A logging company director initially fined for obstructing police in Hawke's Bay has had his conviction overturned by the High Court due to the likely significant "impact on his mana". 

Joshua Green, also known as Joshua Turner, was convicted last year of obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty. 

The conviction came after a judge-alone trial. That resulted in Judge Greg Hollister Jones slapping him with a $500 fine. 

According to a fresh High Court decision, one of the logging trucks from Green's company was involved in a crash on the Napier/Taupō section of State Highway 5 on August 30, 2022. 

The decision said a Snr Const was the first police officer on the scene at about 6:15am. 

"At some point between 6:45 am and 7:15 am, Mr Green drove into the centre of the crash scene, parking directly behind a fire truck. Judge Hollister-Jones held that Mr Green 'inserted himself' into the crash scene at an early stage. 

"Shortly after he arrived at the scene, Mr Green saw that his logging truck, driven by a company employee... was overturned. Mr Green has a very significant personal connection with Mr Murray - Mr Murray's parents were good friends of Mr Green's and they tragically died in a similar road accident. 

"Mr Green subsequently began taking photos of the crashed utility vehicle and the surrounding crash scene." 

Judge Hollister-Jones said Green's actions were "directly contrary" to the direction given by the Snr Const at the scene, according to the decision. That was of "serious concern" to the officer, it said. 

"In acting contrary to that direction", Judge Hollister-Jones concluded Green made the officer's job more difficult and "thereby obstructed him", the decision said. 

Green subsequently launched an appeal against his conviction, contending the judge made mistakes in finding he obstructed the officer and in concluding the impact on his mana was a typical outcome of a conviction.  

Police car.
Photo credit: File

Justice Peter Andrew, who heard the case at the High Court in Rotorua last month, rejected the first ground of appeal - saying there was "a proper evidential foundation for that determination and Mr Green has failed to establish any miscarriage of justice". 

"The critical issue to address is whether the Judge was in error and a miscarriage of justice occurred because he found that the effect on Mr Green's mana was simply 'an ordinary consequence' of conviction," Justice Andrew said in the decision. 

"In an affidavit from Mr John Bishara, the board chair of the Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board and chief executive officer of the Lake Taupō Forest Trust, Mr Green is described as a 'great leader in our community.'" 

Green had also expressed "genuine remorse for his offending, which is a significant mitigating factor", Justice Andrew said. 

"The affidavit from Mr Bishara provides powerful evidence that a conviction will have a significant effect on Mr Green's mana." 

Justice Andrew granted the appeal and Green was discharged without conviction. 

"In assessing the issue of direct and indirect consequences and... the impact on mana, I acknowledge that Mr Green has previous convictions. However, these are both historic and traffic-related," the decision said. 

"He is now nearly 50 years old and clearly holds positions of leadership. I also note that there are significant references and letters of support before the court testifying to his significant roles within the community generally. 

"In assessing all this material, I find that the consequences of a conviction on Mr Green and... the impact on his mana, would be significant," the decision said. 

"I also find that, in concluding that the consequences here are the 'ordinary consequence of conviction', the learned District Court Judge was in error."