Police v Herewini Te Huna [2018] NZDC 20574

Published 30 November 2018

Posting a harmful digital communication — Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, ss 4, 22 — Police v B. The defendant appeared for trial before the judge after pleading not guilty to a charge of posting a harmful digital communication under s 22 of the Harmful Digital Communications Act. It was alleged that she posted harmful communications about the victim on several offensive websites after finding out the victim had a sexual relationship with her former partner. Four essential elements had to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution. These elements were that the defendant posted the digital communication, that the defendant intended the posting to cause the victim harm, the posting would cause harm to a ordinary, reasonable person in the victim's position and that the posting actually caused harm to the victim. Harm is defined as serious emotional distress. Evidence on the defendant's computer and from the victim proved it was the defendant who had posted on the websites about the victim. The posts were derogatory, abusive and used foul language. It was clear that the defendant intended to harm the victim and that a reasonable person would suffer harm from the posts. Serious emotional harm was demonstrated by the victim in her impact statement, including a wish to die after reading the posts. The judge found the defendant guilty. Judgment Date: 25 September 2018.