When is it legal to break the law ?

Back in April 2008, three protestors damaged a plastic dome which obscured from view, a large satelite dish at the Waihopai spy base. In 2010, a jury found the men involved not guilty, on charges of wilful damage and burglary.


Later, a separate court action was taken to pursue the men for the $1 million cost of the inflatable plastic dome (seems a bit expensive for a large plastic bag if y’ask me). That court action in itself seems to be almost, just a political stunt, as the three men involved are all poor and have no assets to speak of, one being a Dominican friar who has previously taken vows of poverty.


In part, the men had claimed that what they did, was to protect other people’s lives (as they claimed the spy base was used in unlawful spying, with the  intelligence gained, being used later to direct military actions).


After the men were set free by the court, the government at the time, indicated that they would move Heaven and Earth to change the laws as required, so that people would never again be able to claim that by doing illegal acts, they were ‘just trying to save lives’.


At the time, not just I, had very strong reservations about the government’s intended, almost knee-jerk reaction. Many others have said that law changes, rapidly brought in, just because the Crown has lost a case, are seldom good for justice or for society.


Today we have a report about two men who deliberately vandalised the front door as they broke into a Wellington house, damaging property as they went and roughing up the occupant who was alone inside at the time.  


The woman was so traumatised by the incident that she required medical assistance from ambulance staff afterwards. Following is a quote from Fairfax’s “Stuff” website of 2 July 2013…


Adam Flynn, 25, and Aaron Flynn, 33, rushed into a burning house and rescued its sole occupant after noticing smoke coming through a vent.

The cousins were working on a property a couple of houses up the road, on Thompson St in central Wellington, when Aaron smelled smoke and heard wood crackling. (end quote)


Now it seems to me that, if the law changes have  gone through as planned, these two men have clearly broken the law (albeit kicking down a door, grabbing a woman overcome by smoke, and dragging her to the exit).


For the victim involved, it was her lucky day, and she is undoubtedly only alive today because of the heroic efforts of the two young men. I just hope the Crown doesn’t drag them through every court in the land trying to prosecute them, and claim back from them, the costs of repairing the broken door.



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