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Well-known and controversial Auckland businessman Leo Molloy said Grace Millane’s murderer had “no rights” after naming him on a popular online forum – flagrantly flouting a High Court suppression order.
The restaurateur, who owns HeadQuarters in the Viaduct, was the first and to date only person to be charged by New Zealand police after numerous suppression breaches before and after last November’s high-profile trial.
Others have been given warnings by police for naming the killer, who still has name suppression, largely on social media platforms.
Today, the Auckland District Court released court documents to the Herald about Molloy’s case after he was charged and pleaded guilty earlier this year to knowingly or recklessly breaching Criminal Procedure Act suppression provisions.
On November 22 last year, while a jury was deliberating on a verdict for the man then accused of murdering the British backpacker, a social media discussion was started on the NZ Premier Racing Community’s website by Molloy.
The 64-year-old is known on the site as “poundforpound”.
In a forum on the site, with 2483 members and called “Main Street Cafe”, Molloy posted at 4.54am: “This is the Grace Mullane murderer [sic]”.
“I put it here because this forum has the traffic and people need to know…,” he wrote.
Later in the evening Millane’s killer was found guilty of murder.
At 8.58pm Molloy then made another post on the forum naming the man, court documents show.
He signed off by writing: “Just saying, and that is a fact”.
Further comments made by Molloy in both posts cannot be published without breaching existing court suppression orders.
When spoken to by police, Molloy said Millane’s killer had “no rights”.
“Why should he be protected when this poor little girl wasn’t, and her family wasn’t.”
Molloy is due to be sentenced in the Auckland District Court on Thursday.
His lawyer, David Jones QC, has earlier indicated his client would apply for a discharge without conviction.
Molloy also faced a second charge, but this was withdrawn by police.
In July, he was also in hot water over another online comment where he called a senior racing official a “racist ****”.
Molloy was fined $15,000 and banned from the racing industry for one year after a Judicial Control Authority hearing for the comment about Neil Grimstone – a senior official in the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit.
The murder trial’s presiding judge, Justice Simon Moore, said after the verdict that the killer’s name would remain suppressed “until further order of the court”.
The reasons for the order and the legal arguments made by both the Crown and defence have also been suppressed.
Millane’s murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years in February after he strangled her to death in his central Auckland apartment.
She died on what would have been her 22nd birthday in December 2018.
After he was sentenced, the killer took his case to the Court of Appeal this year, maintaining the claim Millane’s death was accidental and occurred during rough sex.
The court has not yet released its decision and the man’s name remains suppressed.
Despite the suppression order, in the hours and days after the verdict overseas media and social media users – including in New Zealand – published the killer’s name.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard, the police officer in charge of the case, also warned Kiwis about breaching suppression orders the day after the guilty verdict.
“While we appreciate the public feeling around this case, we do want to remind the public that it is an offence to breach a court order such as a name suppression – this includes naming someone on social media,” he said.
After Millane’s killer first appeared in court in December 2018, British media also named him in its papers, online and on-air.
Internet behemoth Google then breached a suppression order when it named Millane’s accused murderer in its “what’s trending in New Zealand” mass email to New Zealand subscribers.
The Google breach was met with condemnation by then Justice Minister Andrew Little, who held a meeting with Attorney-General David Parker and executives from the Silicon Valley-based company.
In July last year, Google suspended its trending emails in New Zealand and apologised to Little.
While breaking a suppression order is not an extraditable offence for those who do so overseas, people in New Zealand who are guilty face up to six months’ imprisonment or a $25,000 fine.
In the case of a company breaching, a fine of up to $100,000 can be imposed.
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