Insufficient evidence prompted a court to discharge a Whangarei fisherman who refused to pay his motor vehicle registration and licence fees in protest that the payments should not be forced upon motorists by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Marc Pawley walked out of the Whangarei District Court a free man yesterday after Judge John McDonald ruled the Crown had not provided any evidence that suggested the fisherman wanted to obtain a pecuniary advantage by displaying his own registration plate and warrant of fitness.
The 53-year-old had received infringement notices on four separate occasions when stopped by police who discovered he had registered his Nissan Terrano to himself until December 21, 2012 and manufactured his own registration plate 528MDP.
On the fifth occasion, police charged him with using a document for pecuniary advantage instead of issuing further infringement notices because he was not paying the fines.
Pawley argued the Land Transport legislation did not stipulate that motor vehicles have to be registered with the government entity.
Judge McDonald said gaining a pecuniary advantage meant law enforcement officers would be fooled into believing the labels Pawley displayed were genuine so he could avoid paying for those issued by the agency.
In fact, the evidence went the other way in that Pawley wanted to make a statement of alleged breaches to his human rights and the illegality of motorists being forced to enter into a contract with the agency.
The judge, however, made it clear to Pawley that he still had to register his vehicle and pay for a warrant of fitness by someone authorised by the agency.
Despite the outcome, Judge McDonald commended Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson for his decision to lay the charge.
Outside court, Pawley praised the judge's ruling, saying his whole emphasis was not about money.
He wrote to the then police District Commander for Northland, Superintendent Mike Rusbatch, police prosecutions, Crown Law, Chief Justice and to the NZTA but none could point out specific sections in the relevant legislation that required him to register his vehicle to the agency.
"The whole thing could have been sorted out if they'd answered my question," he said.