New Zealand Police v Brookman [2020] NZDC 26801

Published 15 July 2021

Posting digital communication intended to harm — text messages — threats to kill — discharge — "serious emotional distress" — Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 — Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 147 — R v Flyger [2001] 2 NZLR 721 — Parris v Attorney-General [2004] 1 NZLR 519. The defendant faced a charge of posting a digital communication with the intention of harming the complainant, thereby causing her serious emotional distress. The complainant was the defendant's ex-partner, and the defendant had sent her a series of abusive and sinister text messages, which made references to death and killing. One message also contained a threat to burn the complainant's mother's house down. The defendant made an application for discharge on the grounds that there was no case to answer. The charge required the defendant to have suffered "serious emotional distress". The Court found the texts had made the complainant angry and aggravated, but she had not in fact suffered serious emotional distress. Therefore the Court granted the discharge, but also noted that the defendant had been lucky and warned him that should he continue his behaviour and come to Court on a properly-laid charge, he would go to jail. Judgment Date: 18 December 2020