Supreme Court dismisses Dixon appeal


The Supreme Court has unanimously dismissed the appeal of Tindallgate bouncer Jonathan Dixon.

The former Queenstowner sought to have his conviction quashed for illegally taking CCTV footage of England rugby captain and royal husband Mike Tindall.

Dixon was convicted in the Invercargill District Court after taking CCTV footage of Tindall in a Queenstown bar where Dixon worked security, during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

He attempted, unsuccessfully, to sell the footage to overseas media and eventually posted it on a video-sharing site.

Dixon was subsequently found guilty of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose and sentenced to four months’ community detention and 300 hours of community work.

He appealed the conviction and sentence to the Appeal Court, which quashed his conviction for obtaining “property” and substituted a conviction on the basis he obtained a “benefit”. His sentence appeal was dismissed.

Dixon appealed that decision to the Supreme Court saying the lower court had erred in dismissing his appeal.

In a decision released this morning, the Supreme Court agreed the court had erred - but not to Dixon’s benefit.

The Supreme Court held that Judge Kevin Phillips was right to find that the digital files which Dixon acquired were “property” for the purposes of the relevant section in the Crimes Act.

The Court of Appeal was wrong to quash Dixon’s conviction for obtaining “property” and substitute a conviction on the basis he obtained a “benefit”, the Supreme Court decision says.

It considered the data files at issue were identifiable, were capable of being owned and transferred and had an economic value - so they fell within both the popular and legal meanings of “property”.

“The court was satisfied that it is a more natural interpretation of [the law] to say Mr Dixon took “property” when he acquired the digital files, than it is to say that he acquired a “benefit”.”

The court reinstated Dixon’s original conviction.

Before the Supreme Court hearing, Dixon dismissed his counsel and presented submissions for himself. He focused on errors which he argued had been made by the trial judge, resulting in a miscarriage of justice.

The Supreme Court’s decision said it considered whether his trial miscarried and found it had not.

“The court has found that Mr Dixon had the opportunity to put his explanation for his conduct before the jury and there is no risk of a miscarriage of justice resulting from the way the case was left to the jury by trial counsel or the trial judge.”

Dixon is something of a bush lawyer – having formed part of the defence team for a .

Otago Daily Times