Palmerston North man pleads guilty to charges filed over protest at Parliament


Palmerston North District Court.
Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

A Palmerston North man has admitted to unloading a fire extinguisher over police and then throwing it at officers who broke up the protest in parliament earlier this year.

In Palmerston North District Court on Sept. 6, Marcus James Carlin, 36, pleaded guilty to charges of rioting and assaulting the police with weapons possession on March 2, when the 23-day occupation of Parliament grounds was broken.

Carlin also admitted six charges arising from a June search of a Palmerston North home, including possession of prohibited firearms and explosives for an unlawful purpose.

According to court documents released to RNZ, Carlin was on the grounds of Parliament on March 2 around 3pm while police were working to clear it up.

He was with half a dozen other protesters resisting the police.

Carlin used a fire extinguisher on the officers three times, causing vision and breathing problems for her and nearby protesters.

“The force made it impossible for officers to protect themselves from attacks and projectiles thrown by protesters,” a court summary of the facts said.

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Carlin then threw the fire extinguisher at the police before running away. His actions were captured on video and he was later arrested.

According to court documents, Carlin had been present at the protest since Feb. 9.

It said 71 police officers were injured on March 2, some with deep cuts and dental injuries, and others were knocked unconscious by projectiles thrown at them. Seven had to be treated at Wellington Hospital.

The court’s summary of the facts included a lengthy overview of the protest in parliament, including its riotous end on March 2.

It gave detailed information about the projectiles thrown at the police, such as paving stones, bricks and cans of food, and how far some protesters went when confronting the police, such as a protester standing on the fire escape of a nearby building carrying bags of sand that he had to throw down at officers.

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“It was clear that some of the rockets, including wheel nuts and other projectiles, had been prepared by protesters to throw at the police.

“A number of protesters were organized and ensured a steady supply of materials that were collected and handed over to the front lines for use against the police.”

According to the summary, seven fires were deliberately lit, with gas cylinders thrown in, exposing police to incoming missiles as they extinguished the flames.

Firearms charges also acknowledged

On June 28, police searched Carlin’s property, with a search warrant for clothing he had worn during the protest.

Carlin lived in a large bus at the front of the section, where they found guns and explosives in addition to the clothing.

Two rifles, including a loaded semi-automatic rifle, were in a bag next to his bed.

The officers also found a prohibited semi-automatic firearm, a taser and hundreds of ammunition, a P-pipe and cannabis utensils.

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Carlin pleaded not guilty to damaging a Palmerston North City Council vehicle in June, and will also appear in court later this month on charges of assault with intent to injure and intentionally damage an incident in April.

It is alleged that Carlin caused $3,400 in damage to the vehicle of a city parking attendant after his van was issued with a parking ticket.

Carlin will represent himself at the trial, while attorney Fergus Steedman will represent him in the other cases.

Judge Jonathan Krebs asked Carlin if he himself was represented at the trial.

Carlin said he’d done it before.

“I have had successful results and I am confident that I can make my own defense against those charges.”

Before his AVL connection with the court was cut, Carlin said, “One more stop on the yellow brick road.”

“An Elton John fan,” Judge Krebs said, “good to hear.”

Carlin remains in custody.