Man arrested over anti-Muslim tirade pleads guilty

Daniel Nicholas Tuapawa outside court in Christchurch 12 April 2019

A man who shouted Islamophobic comments outside Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch on Wednesday has pleaded guilty.

Daniel Nicholas Tuapawa, 33, appeared in the Christchurch District Court this morning charged with behaving in an insulting manner likely to cause violence against person or persons.

The incident occurred about 4.30pm on Wednesday at the mosque in Deans Avenue in central Christchurch where 42 people were killed during the terror attacks three weeks ago. The attacks also left eight others dead and dozens more injured.

In court today police read out a summary of facts saying he had told worshippers entering the mosque that all Muslims were terrorists and they needed to leave the country.

Through his lawyer, Steven Hembrow, Tuapawa said he had gone to the mosque to look at the flowers.

He said he blacked out and had no memory of the incident.

It wasn’t until the police showed him a video of the tirade that he realised what he had done.

As part of a restorative justice process, he has asked to meet the Muslims he accused of being terrorists and apologise to them.

Tuapawa was granted bail while a pre-sentencing report is completed.

Judge Bridget Mackintosh said he may be looking at a sentence of imprisonment.

Outside court afterwards, he said he had meant no harm but suffers mental health problems and needs to get back on his medication.

Armed officers guarding the mosque let Tuapawa walk away on Wednesday. Police later issued a released a photo of him and he was arrested last night.

A man who witnessed the anti-Muslim abuse laid an official complaint over the failure to immediately make an arrest. Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said the case was under review, but his personal view was in the same situation he would have arrested the man under disorderly behaviour charges.

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