November 26, 2023

‘He hasn’t yet lost his humanity’: Lawyer argues young Black Power man is not ‘who he seems’

Puniwahirau Mason earned his Black Power patch at the age of 17, the court heard (file photo).

David Hallett/Stuff

Puniwahirau Mason earned his Black Power patch at the age of 17, the court heard (file photo).

A young man’s extensive gang tattoos across his face are not representative of who he really is, a lawyer says.

Puniwahirau Mason, 25, earned his Black Power patch at the age of 17 but has not yet “lost his humanity”.

Defence lawyer Fergus Steedman told the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday his client was not who he appeared to be and in his experience was actually a “thoughtful” man with potential.

Mason was appearing for sentence on charges of assaulting a prison officer, breach of release conditions, driving while disqualified and unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle.

With the instantly-recognisable Black Power fist on his cheek, Mason stood silent with his arms crossed throughout the hearing.

Fergus Steedman says his client is hopeful of making a life for himself on the outside.

Murray Wilson/Stuff

Fergus Steedman says his client is hopeful of making a life for himself on the outside.

Steedman said he had little support on the outside, and the gang had become his family “for all the wrong reasons, but all the traditional ones” too.

The assault on the prison officer in February was “random” and Mason had told him he was genuinely sorry for the “unprovoked” attack.

The officer had suffered a broken nose and ongoing pain months after the incident, which involved Mason and two others.

Mason punched the officer in the face, and continued doing so after the victim put his arms up in defence.

The court heard the assault came at a time when frustrations were high and people were being held in cells for up to “27 hours” due to staffing shortages.

Steedman said he had no idea what the future would hold for Mason, but there would need to be a “tectonic shift” in his lifestyle.

He wanted

Read the rest