The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 Jan-May

The Press
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 immature men.

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 safety.

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 over.

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.