Bizarre crime stories, when they give rise to legal charges, still fall within our jurisdiction as a legal tabloid. You may recall our recent story about a New Zealand man who claimed he was raped by a wombat (which allegedly left him speaking with an Australian accent).
And it’s not just wombats — hedgehogs are dangerous too, at least in New Zealand. From the AP:
A New Zealand man has been accused of assault with a prickly weapon — a hedgehog.
Police allege that William Singalargh, 27, picked up the hedgehog and threw it at a 15-year-old boy in the North Island east coast town of Whakatane on February 9.
“It hit the victim in the leg, causing a large, red welt and several puncture marks,” police Senior Sgt. Bruce Jenkins said Monday. The teen did not need medical treatment, he added.
Police arrested Singalargh shortly after the incident, and charged him with assault with a weapon — “namely the hedgehog,” Jenkins said.
Statutory interpretation junkies: Feel free to opine on whether it’s proper to charge this as “assault with a weapon.” This appears to be the applicable New Zealand statute:
202C: Assault with weapon
(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years who,—
(a) In assaulting any person, uses any thing as a weapon; or
(b) While assaulting any person, has any thing with him or her in circumstances that prima facie show an intention to use it as a weapon.
The breadth of this statutory language would appear to encompass hedgehog wielding (“uses any thing as a weapon” (emphasis added)). But maybe we’re missing something that the enterprising defense lawyers among you can pick up on.
Update: This never occurred to us, because we’re not animal lovers, but some of you suggest that an animal should not be considered a “thing.”
If hedgehog hurling won’t fly as “assault with a weapon,” other charges are possible. The AP reports: “It was unclear if [Singalargh] also would face animal cruelty charges. The Herald said the hedgehog was dead when it was collected as evidence, but did not know if it was dead or alive at the time of the alleged attack. The Herald reported Singalargh’s arrest under the headline ‘Raise your hands and step away from the hedgehog.’”
P.S. A caveat: we’re not 100 percent certain that this is the correct statutory language. We just did very quick ‘n dirty legal research on Google. Perhaps the statute has been amended, superseded, etc. If we’re wrong about this being the operative statute, please let us know, and provide us with the correct statutory language. Thanks.
Hedgehog used in non-lethal assault [AP]
Assaults and injuries to the person [Statutes of New Zealand]
Earlier: A PSA from ATL: Watch Out for Wombats!