‘Everything Room’ Activists Appear In Court

‘Everything Room’ Activists Appear In Court

All three remanded without plea on bail

Three protesters arrested for damaging University of Otago property appeared at the District Court Tuesday, August 8. Around 20 supporters were there in solidarity. 

Third-year student Jowan Nute and non-students Liam Scaife and Carl Naus were arrested Tuesday, August 1, for intentional damage to property. They were part of a protest lambasting “university mismanagement” that involved occupying a room on an empty floor of the Business School, painting the walls, and allegedly damaging a fire door. See our article in issue 18.

The initial summary proceedings were cut short by a dispute over the revised terms of the activists’ bail. The contested term of bail in question was a non-association clause. Put simply, according to this condition, the three activists would not be allowed to interact. This was raised as an issue as all three activists work together at the co-op cafe, Yours. 

After over two hours spent hanging around in the courtroom waiting room, the activists were called into the courtroom next door. The prosecution’s case rested on mitigating the chance of the activists conspiring together to commit similar offences. However, as pointed out by the judge, the police had not sought such a bail condition immediately after the arrests had been made. So any risk of damage would have already happened. The argument put forward by the prosecution was that Campus Constable John Woodhouse “didn’t appreciate these concerns at the time of arrest.”

The judge concluded that “the horse has bolted” on the issue, and the non-association clause was removed from the terms of bail. Liam described the judgement as a “small victory”. The bail terms relating to trespass remained; Liam and Carl are trespassed from Otago Uni campus for two years, and Jowan is trespassed from being within 20 metres of the Business School and Clocktower.

The trio are set to appear in court to enter their pleas on August 29 at 10am. It is expected that the defendants will be offered diversion, meaning that they will not go through the formal court processes and all record of conviction will be wiped. The main issue is the $10k in damages that the police claim were caused by drill holes in fire doors, which Critic Te Ārohi understands they would probably want paid out up front. 

So, if you have an extra $10k lying around…

Posted 5:40pm Tuesday 8th August 2023 by Zak Rudin.