A Kiwi 'mountain man' who claimed police tried to make him look as bad as the Christchurch mosque shooter for staying in his car during lockdown restrictions has had his conviction overturned on appeal.
Fraser Wright Maddigan, 45, was spoken to three times by New Zealand police after leaving his Christchurch home and driving 600km to Te Anau, where he was arrested during a lockdown.
Maddigan was fined $1000 and also ordered to pay $130 court costs on April 2, 2020, for breaching the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act by deciding to self-isolate in his Honda Civic during a state of emergency.
New Zealand police arrested a 'mountain man' who claimed to be self-isolating in his car during a Covid lockdown. Although he was convicted and fined, the man won his appeal
Maddigan's lawyer, David Slater, said because his client's home life had become difficult, 'he hit upon the idea of isolating himself in his vehicle'.
The court heard Maddigan left Christchurch to drive south, where he had worked as a pest controller, and ran into trouble after being pulled over by police three times in two days.
When he was told by Te Anau police to go home at 8.30pm on the second night, Maddigan decided to sleep in his car but claimed he had taken Covid precautions when paying for petrol and doing grocery shopping.
He even ate dinner in his Honda.
The next morning at 9.30am, when heading home, police arrested Maddigan and took him to Invercargill - where he was denied bail before his court hearing.
At that hearing he was convicted and admonished by Judge Bernadette Farnan, who said Maddigan took 'a belligerent attitude to police' - and fined him.
In April 2020, Maddigan told stuff.co.nz, 'the mountains are my home' and asked 'how the f*** do you get in such trouble just for living in the mountains?'
New Zealand police walk through an empty street in Christchurch during a Covid lockdown in March 2020
Maddigan then appealed to the High Court, claiming his original conviction failed to take into account he was trying to return home as asked when arrested.
On Tuesday he told Gerald Justice Nation, 'I believe the prosecutor chose to hide this crucial evidence in an attempt to convince the judge I was equally as bad as the mosque shooter', stuff.co,nz reported.
Justice Nation ruled Maddigan's initial trial included 'a miscarriage of justice' when he was remanded in custody in Invercargill over the minor charge he was facing.
'[The] legislation did not allow Judge to deny bail,' the court judgement read.
'Maddigan had given up his right to defend the charge, in part, to avoid being remanded in prison.'
'Accordingly, his conviction and fine had to be quashed. Proceedings to go back to the District Court.'