Taup man Graham Philip appears in court on charges of sabotage

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By Ethan Griffiths, Open Justice reporter for

Auckland's court coat of arms.

Taup man Graham Philip is believed to be the first New Zealander ever charged with sabotage. (File image)
Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

An anti-vaccination activist who this year became the first person ever charged with violating New Zealand’s sabotage laws has reappeared in court.

Taupō man Graham Philip was charged in May with seven sabotage charges in connection with an alleged attack on New Zealand’s infrastructure late last year. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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The exact details of what the Crown is claiming will remain suppressed until the trial, because of what Open Justice understand is a fear of offending copycats.

Philip appeared in the Supreme Court in Rotorua via audiovisual link Friday morning, sitting quietly in the booth as his lawyer addressed Justice Graham Lang.

Philip’s previous attorney Matthew Hague has withdrawn from the case, with Philip now being represented by Tauranga attorney Bill Nabney.

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Philip is currently being held in Waikeria Prison in Waikato after his bail request was denied earlier this year.

A scheduled appeals court appeal against the bail decision has been dropped and Philip will remain in prison until his trial, which is scheduled for late next year.

Under the Crimes Act, sabotage is legally defined as any activity that damages or interferes with the operation of “any ship, vehicle, aircraft, weapons, ammunition, equipment, machinery, equipment or nuclear or nuclear power plant” on the New Zealand coast.

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A person can also be charged with sabotage if the person “damages or destroys any property necessary to remain intact for the safety or health of the public.”

A conviction also requires proven intent to harm the health or safety of the public.

Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.