Lawless burglary conviction could 'seriously impair' travel to US
NZ Herald 27 February 2012

Image634660113378564453Lucy Lawless' ability to travel to the United States could be "seriously impaired" if she is found guilty of burglary following her arrest after participating in a Greenpeace protest, a legal expert says.

The star of Xena and Spartacus was among seven protesters charged after a demonstration aboard a Shell drillship in Port Taranaki yesterday.

Police officers scaled the Noble Discoverer's drilling tower to arrest the group, four days after the protest began, 53m up the ship's drilling tower.

The group would appear in New Plymouth District Court on Thursday, police said.

Though unlikely, the protesters could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, said Auckland University Faculty of Law associate professor Warren Brookbanks.

"They're not going to get imprisonment at all, it would probably be dealt with by a fine, I would think. Or if they have a good lawyer they might be able to successfully persuade the court to convict and discharge them."

Mr Brookbanks said Lawless' lawyer would most likely seek a discharge without conviction which would allow her to continue to travel to the United States - where she frequently works - without any problems.

"[A conviction] could seriously impair her ability to travel to countries like the United States, where they take criminal convictions very seriously."

Mr Brookbanks was surprised police chose to charge the protesters with burglary - defined by the Crimes Act as breaking and entering into any building or ship without authority and with intent to commit a crime.

"They could have charged them with being in an enclosed yard or disorderly behaviour or something like that. It strikes me that this is an element of overkill," he said.

The Noble Discoverer was meant to leave Port Taranaki over the weekend on a 6000 nautical mile journey to the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska, to drill three exploratory oil wells.

"This chapter has ended, but the story of the battle to save the Arctic has just begun," Lawless said before the arrests.

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