Woman who cancelled graduation ceremonies with bomb threats ‘deserves name suppression’ – lawyer

The lawyer for a woman whose fake bomb threats caused eight graduation ceremonies to be called off says his client deserves permanent name suppression.

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The former Otago University student was sentenced to five months’ community detention and nine months’ supervision yesterday at Auckland District Court.

The woman threatened to make the Christchurch mosque attacks ‘look like child’s play’ in an attempt to make the university cancel the graduation ceremonies in December 2020, so that her parents wouldn’t find out she had been suspended from academic study and wasn’t graduating.

Lawyer John Munro told Morning Report the young woman had failed university several times, was suffering from severe anxiety and depression, and became quite desperate.

“She had no way out and nobody to go to. She tried to avoid the graduation at all cost and tried to get some money to buy a fake graduation certificate. She did other things to try to avoid that whole event.”

After sending emails to the university threatening an attack, authorities there had to take the attack seriously.

The chancellor of the university estimated the cost of cancellations and other expenses related to the threats amounted to about $1.3 million.

He said the woman had acted out of character, was now heavily medicated, had insight into her offending and was remorseful.

“She’s looking to her own future now and she’s young, she wants to have a family, want to travel, wants to have a career and a lot of those things can be prevented now, obviously because of the nature of the charge she’s been convicted of, ” he said.

“She is a kind, young woman who made a very poor judgement after failing university and the conviction will have a huge impact on her life.

“Name suppression can apply to people sometimes when their mental state is in a precarious position, which it still is.

“It’s stabilised, but with medication, bit it’s still precarious and the vitriol on social media and other media was quite vicious.”

Her interim name supression will lapse later this month.

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