Internet troll loses NZ conviction appeal

Teenage “internet troll” Tristan Barker’s appeal against his conviction for assaulting Australian television journalist David Eccleston has been dismissed in a New Zealand court.


In a reserved decision, Justice Edwin Wylie found the Rotorua District Court judge who convicted and discharged the 18-year-old last September was correct in her sentencing stance.

Barker, son of former Split Enz drummer Michael Baker, had admitted the charge.

Appealing the decision in the High Court at Rotorua last month, Barker’s lawyer Bill Lawson argued a conviction could prevent him taking up a basketball scholarship in the US in the future, travel to the US and some other countries, plus affect his future employment.

Justice Wylie said although Barker had been to the US on a basketball scholarship in the past, he only hoped he could do so again.

This did not equate to a real or appreciable risk of Barker’s conviction having adverse travel consequences for him.

The judge noted the conviction had not affected Barker’s present work in the Sydney entertainment industry and he’d be required to disclose it to future, potential employers.

“The important factor to consider is not the conviction but the underlying criminality involved in the assault,” Justice Wylie said, emphasising Barker had been discharged without penalty.

Barker had been charged with assaulting Mr Eccleston, a Sydney-based Seven News reporter, while being interviewed in Rotorua in March last year, striking him twice, once as Mr Eccleston attempted to walk away from him.

He’d needed medical treatment and suffered mild concussion.

The interview followed inflammatory comments Barker posted on social media.