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  • Writer's pictureGrant McLachlan

Photo evidence thwarts farcical prosecution.


"If Mr McLachlan hadn't taken those four photos, would anyone even consider his version of events?"

- Tudor Clee, R v McLachlan


PRESS RELEASE

 

10 February 2024

Auckland District Court, Auckland

 

During the week of Monday 5 to Friday 9 February 2024 2024 at Auckland District Court, there was a four-day trial of Mr Grant McLachlan, who was accused of assaulting and robbing Snells Beach resident Lorraine Martin at Snells Beach on 18 September 2021. After deliberating for less than two hours, the jury delivered not guilty verdicts.

 

The Crown produced four eye witnesses who claimed that Mr McLachlan violently attacked and robbed Lorraine Martin over several minutes (yet didn’t intervene). Mr McLachlan produced photographic evidence showing Lorraine Martin charging at Mr McLachlan and using a compact camera as a weapon to break Mr McLachlan’s nose.

 

The Crown’s case was that, during Covid-19 Alert Level 4, Mr McLachlan reacted violently to Lorraine Martin after she had taken a photo of Mr McLachlan’s dog. Mr McLachlan gave evidence that it was in fact Ms Martin who had unleashed Mr McLachlan’s dog which was tied to a fence while Mr McLachlan was nearby chatting with a friend and that Ms Martin took exception to Mr McLachlan taking a photo of Ms Martin afterwards.

 

Mr McLachlan claimed that Ms Martin attacked him twice before he confiscated the camera and rang the police. Corinne Keast claimed that, after Mr McLachlan told her that the camera was used as a weapon and that he was on the phone to police, she asked for the return of the camera and then the witnesses approached Ms Martin on two occasions to return the camera but she refused. A witness took the camera to June Turner, who had previously taken photos of dogs and lodged complaints with the council. In her evidence to the court, Turner accepted the camera of someone she claims she didn’t know.

 

Ms Martin provided considerable detail about her plan with the 111 dispatcher to collect photos of dogs and people not wearing masks to send to the Mahurangi Matters to be published at the next issue at Covid Alert Level 3. Despite this plot and news of the altercation spreading throughout the community, Mahurangi Matters published a letter from June Turner’s husband.

 

Of most concern during the trial was the conduct of Lorraine Martin and her support person, Lois McPherson. Ms McPherson was meant to sit outside the dock and her presence – without interacting with Lorraine Martin – was to provide emotional support. The trial was stopped when both the Crown Prosecutor and Defence heard Ms McPherson whisper to Ms Martin “You don’t know anything about that” in response to a question about funding the Ratepayers Association failed to obtain which Mr McLachlan had written about. Ms McPherson was excused from the court and when asked by the judge whether the defence wanted to call for a mistrial, Mr McLachlan said that he wanted to continue.

 

The 111 call from Lorraine Martin was then played to the court, where a female could be overheard in the background on several occasions coaching Lorraine Martin on what to say to the operator. Lorraine Martin said that Ian Taylor rang 111 and handed the phone handset to Lorraine Martin. Ms Martin visited the Taylor's home immediately before and after the incident involving Mr McLachlan.

 

The following day, the Crown Prosecutor brought to the attention of the court that Ms Martin, still under oath and being cross-examined, handed him a handwritten note suggesting questions for him to ask her. After the judge asked whether Mr McLachlan wanted to file for mistrial, Mr McLachlan asked that the new evidence be used in cross-examination, which could then be used by the Crown in their re-examination. Mr McLachlan further stated that he wanted a result from the trial.

 

Despite Lorraine Martin claiming to not know Mr McLachlan by name – and a police notebook not providing any details of the alleged attacker – Lorraine Martin mentions Mr McLachlan’s name four times in the 111 call, describing Mr McLachlan as “a real troublemaker.”

 

The court also heard the evidence of Paul Shanahan, who Lorraine Martin claimed to not know. Despite both Shanahan and Martin claiming to have exchanged details at the scene of the alleged attack, there was conflicting evidence between Ms Martin, Mr Shanahan, and Constable Fairbrass on how that information was exchanged.

 

The court heard evidence from three witnesses that Mr Shanahan claimed to have seen Mr McLachlan "round house" Ms Martin on the esplanade reserve, see Mr McLachlan wrestle the camera off Ms Martin, and then come to the assistance of Ms Martin. The evidence of other witnesses was that Shanahan appeared from off the beach some minutes later after Mr McLachlan had left the scene to call the police. While Mr McLachlan was talking to police, Mr Shanahan spent five minutes with the other witnesses and complainant, describing what he claimed he had seen.

 

Throughout Ms Martin’s evidence, she made multiple highly defamatory and easily disproven allegations that clearly came from people involved in the trial, council officials, police, media, and members of the Snells Beach Ratepayers and Residents Association (SBRRA). Mr McLachlan will be pursuing redress on these matters.

 

The events of 18 September 2021 followed two articles published by Mr McLachlan on 4 May 2021 and 17 September 2021 where Mr McLachlan described the actions of SBRRA committee and members, including Diane Taylor, Paul Shanahan, and founder, June Turner. Diane Taylor also co-ordinates volunteers at the community policing centre.

 

Immediately following the incident, Mr McLachlan laid a police complaint. Due to the conduct of the officer in charge, he opted to not follow up with a statement. Following being charged, Mr McLachlan tried to expedite matters by entering a not guilty plea by notice, not seek name suppression, and elected a trial by jury, which moved the trial out of the North Shore to Auckland. Mr McLachlan spent two and half years on bail. In a rare step, the Crown Prosecutor opposed an independent documentary maker from filming the trial.

 

Mr McLachlan says, “There were many deeply disturbing and defamatory allegations made against me over the course of the trial that points to a malicious gossip network. The actions of Lorraine Martin point to a clique with considerable influence over the council and local police. Hopefully, this trial is the catalyst to address the lack of transparency evident in the Snells Beach community.”


Following the trial, Mr McLachlan laid another complaint with police, providing evidence that Ms Martin assaulted him. Mr Clee laid a separate police complaint relating to the conduct of Ms Martin and Ms McPherson.

 

ENDS

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