May 21, 1993
Pair 'intelligent but immature'
A final-year law
student and a part time lecturer at the University of Canterbury were described
by Judge Bisphan in the District Court yesterday as behaving more like
primary school children than adults at a university.
His remarks were made when giving a decision on an intimidation charge,
during which the background to what he termed the "bad blood"
between them was related.
Reasons for their differences were said to have included the lecturer's
spreading rumours about the university campus, and his
"persecution" of the law student with "outrageous
allegations" of child sexual abuse.
The judge convicted the student, Robert John Davidson, aged 42, a final year
law student, that with intent to frighten Bruce MacDonald Curtis on February
16 he threatened to injure him by running him down and killing him.
The judge said his impression of them was that they were both intelligent but
Davidson was remanded at large to May 27 for sentence. He was represented by
Mr Kevin Campbell. Sergeant Pat Creasey prosecuted.
Mr Curtis, in evidence yesterday, said he was a Ph.D candidate, a part time
lecturer, and tutorial assistant at the university. He told of cycling in Armagh Street,
with his young son on a seat on the bicycle bar, when Davidson turned his car
from Fitzgerald Avenue
into Armagh Street.
Davidson then made a U-turn and repeatedly sounded his car's horn and drove
closely behind him, towards Madras
Street. He then leaned over from the driver's
seat and told Mr Curtis he would kill him and run him over.
Mr Curtis said he thought of riding on to the footpath after the threat, but
Davidson drove off. The incident had made him fearful for his and his son's
Cross-examined, Mr Curtis denied goading Davidson or having conducted a
vendetta against Davidson at the university by spreading rumours that he was
a child abuser.
He said suggestions, including from the police, had been made for mediation
but he had refused.
A woman cyclist, a student, said she saw the car driving closely behind then
alongside the complainant. She thought it looked dangerous, and the motorist
was "pushing" the cyclist towards the kerb.
After the car drove off she spoke to the cyclist. He asked if she would be a
witness to the incident. She noted the car's registration number for him, and
he obtained her name and telephone number.
Davidson, in evidence, said he came upon Mr Curtis by chance. He turned and
caught up with him because he wanted to find out why he was persecuting him
with allegations of child sexual abuse.
Davidson said he denied the complainant's allegations, which had been
persistent around the campus and to other people they both knew. He found
them very distressing and distasteful.
He drove to within 1m to 1.5m behind Mr Curtis to get his attention and get
him to stop. He said Mr Curtis turned, smiled, sneered, and goaded him.
He gave up hope of making Mr Curtis stop, and became annoyed at his attitude.
Before diving off he told Mr Curtis he should be careful or he could get run
He had no intention of running him over. It was a statement more of annoyance
value because of his frustration with Mr Curtis over his persistent
unwillingness to answer to his behaviour towards him.
Cross-examined, Davidson said his actions in making the U-turn and
approaching Mr Curtis were entirely inappropriate and undignified. However
they were a spur of the moment action to try to talk with him.
The judge said he could not find on the evidence that a threat to kill was
made. He held that a threat to run Mr Curtis over was, however, made, with
the intention of frightening him.