Axe attack at Parliament: Man appears in secure Wellington courtroom

An Auckland man accused of smashing the glass doors at the entrance of Parliament has appeared in court – in a rarely used secure basement courtroom.

In unusual circumstances, media were not able to be present for the hearing due to the size and layout of the secure room.

Judge Bill Hastings had the matter held there due to security reasons.

Police officers were called to Parliament about 5.25 this morning after a man was seen with an axe outside.

Photos at the scene show the two main glass doors smashed as shattered pieces of glass litter the ground.

The two side panels also show signs of an attempt to smash them in- with two holes now showing on the bottom half of each panel.

The wider area has been cordoned off with yellow tape, and there are barriers to prevent cars driving up towards the building.

The defendant was taken into custody at 5.35am, police said.

The 31-year-old appeared in the Wellington District Court this morning, where he was granted interim name suppression by Judge Hastings.

The man is listed as living in Auckland and is charged with resisting police, intentional damage with reckless disregard to parliamentary property, and possessing an offensive weapon in public.

He also faces an unrelated charge of intentionally damaging a glass wall of a Rotorua petrol station in early December.

Judge Hastings updated media after the hearing about what happened.

He said the man was bailed to a secure facility until late January.

He said the man made comments during the hearing which confirmed everyone’s concerns about the man’s mental health.

Those comments did not include any racial or political references, nor any reference to incidents in the US.

Under New Zealand legislation, media should not be barred from the courtroom except in cases where the security of New Zealand was at stake.

While the legislation relating to that scenario was not cited today, media were informed the room the hearing was unable to hold any more people than those essential to the case, due to its physical size.

It is rare for this particular room in the Wellington District Court to be used, but in this situation the man’s mental state warranted it. The court security staff also made a call that it was a security risk to have him appear in a normal courtroom.

Judge Hastings said the man had a calm demeanour when he did finally appear.

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