Restaurant owner Leo Molloy has been sentenced to 350 hours community service and fined $15,000 in the District Court at Auckland today after an earlier guilty plea for breaching name suppression in the Grace Millane case.
The HeadQuarters owner is the only person to date to be charged for numerous breaches of the High Court supression order on naming the man accused of killing the British backpacker.
Grace Millane was killed in Auckland's CBD in late 2018. At the High Court at Auckland in November 2019, Jesse Kempson was found guilty of her murder and sentended to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years. However, his name was suppressed ahead of two other trials.
The murderer has since lost the right to keep his name hidden, after he was convicted of further violent offences against two women.
Today in the District Court at Auckland, the statement of facts read in court showed that as the jury was deliberating over Kempson's verdict in 2019 Molloy breached suppression and named Kempson in a post on the NZ Premier Racing Community website under his online name "poundforpound".
He'd written: "This is the Grace Millane murderer, he got name suppression because he's also up on another independent rape charge. He needs a bullet.
"I put it here because this forum has the traffic and people need to know."
He also later went on to post further details, including identifying Kempson as a former employee of his sister. He described how the now-convicted murderer had flatted with his niece and had been asked to leave due to his "inappropriate behaviour".
Last December, Molloy, who owns HeadQuarters bar on Auckland’s Viaduct, admitted breaching the suppression order.
Today, police in the District Court at Auckland said the "potential for real damage is really high".
"The non-complinace gets in the way of our ability to uphold suppression and prejudices the ability of police and prosecutors to persue justice for victims in subsequent trials."
His lawyer, David Jones QC, applied for a discharge without conviction. He told the judge his client had been motivated by a "very real sense of injustice". He said any conviction could put Molloy's veterinarian and bar manager's licenses and his ability to travel overseas at risk.
However, Judge Peter Winter ruled the gravity of Molloy's offending outweighted the consequences of a conviction.
He said the “blatant breach” of suppression could have had a considerable effect on the process of justice and described the offending as "moderately serious".
"He is an intelligent man that has trained as a veterinarian. He would have been aware the High Court imposed name suppression on the defendent in the Grace Millane trial for a very good reason and despite that for reasons best known to himself he decided to make the publication that he did."
He therefore convicted Molloy over breaching suppression and sentenced him to community work and a $15,000 fine that needs to be paid within 28 days.