New Zealand

Man pleads guilty in New Zealand of dousing witness in gas, trying to set them alight to stop testimony

The suspect, who the court heard is suffering substance and psychological issues, is pleading to be sent back to the Middle East

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 1:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2018, 1:27pm

By Sam Hurley

An Iranian man has pleaded with a judge to send him back to the Middle East after admitting to dousing a witness in gasoline and attempting to set them alight.

Amir Bananfard was charged with trying to deter another man from giving evidence in a criminal proceeding by “dousing him in petrol and attempting to set him alight”.

The 39-year-old Iranian national appeared in the Auckland District Court today following a psychiatric report and having earlier pleaded guilty. He was also charged with robbery, assault with intent to injure, threatening to do grievous bodily harm, and driving while disqualified.

Court documents read that Bananfard, who has no listed occupation, doused the man, whom the Herald has chosen not to name, in petrol and tried to set fire to him on July 22 last year in Auckland.

Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Baldwin earlier told the Herald Bananfard was arrested the same day after the incident in Mt Eden.

The robbery occurred about a month earlier on June 20.

Bananfard’s counsel John Corby told the court the psychiatric report answered many preconceived thoughts about his client’s mental health.

He said, “anyone who has spent time with the man” knows Bananfard needed medical help.

The court heard Bananfard was suffering from substance and psychological issues.

Speaking through his Farsi (Persian) language translator, Bananfard said: “I didn’t kill anyone, I did some harm. I’m happy to go home and make you guys free.”

However, Judge Evangelos Thomas replied that the criminal charges Bananfard faced were an entirely different matter to one of potential deportation back to Iran, and an issue ultimately for immigration officials.

Judge Thomas remanded Bananfard in custody until his sentencing later this year.

Read the original article at The New Zealand Herald