A man has escaped jail after mailing pamphlets about legalising cannabis to jury panel members on the eve of his trial for cultivating cannabis.
Passing sentence of 200 hours community work on Philip Noel Robinson, 54, Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan said he felt that ultimately no jurors had been threatened, and it was really a misguided attempt to influence them.
The mailout came to light in March 2004 when it was mentioned by potential jurors before a trial in Greymouth.
After being fined in the culti vation case, Robinson was found guilty by a jury on a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
"Clearly, the issue of influencing potential jury members calls for denunciation and deterrence," the judge said.
Robinson sent out leaflets with his views on liberalisation of cannabis and the unfairness of current laws, which was clearly designed to influence potential jurors, the judge said. He accepted none of the material was threatening or abusive.
Robinson told the court he felt the Greymouth District Court had been remiss in sending out the jury list without the explanatory cover sheet, which led to him mailing the list to friends.
Robinson criticised the cannabis laws and denied criminal intent in mailing the leaflets. He accepted he sent the jury list to his friends, but only because of the oversight by the Greymouth District Court.
The offending was committed while he was on bail, and there was no premeditation. "I may be guilty of ignorance but, in my defence, even the law blinks at ignorance," Robinson said.
He had recently bought a house, and it would cause family hardship if he was jailed. He believed authorities knew there was no real crime committed.
The judge acknowledged Robinson did not accept the verdict and held firm beliefs about cannabis.