Former NZ Green MP Faces $1,600 Fine for Stealing $9,000 Worth of Clothing

‘There is nowhere near a material contribution of her mental health to the shoplifting,’ said a prosecutor.

Former New Zealand Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman has faced a fine of NZ$1,600 (US$974) and court costs of $260 (US$158) for going on a shoplifting spree last year.

The former barrister’s request for a discharge without conviction was also denied, making it unlikely she will be able to resume her law career. She resigned from Parliament after being charged.

In 2023, Ms. Ghahraman stole clothes worth almost NZ$9,000 (US$5,470) from high-end boutiques in Auckland and Wellington.

Ms. Ghahraman, 43, was charged with stealing $695 worth of clothing from Wellington’s Cre8iveworx Store on Oct. 22, 2023, and a navy cardigan valued at $389 from Standard Issue in Newmarket on Dec. 22.

She was also charged with two counts of shoplifting from Scotties Boutique in Ponsonby, of items worth $5,773 on Dec. 21 and another $2,060 worth on Dec. 23.

The former MP escaped imprisonment due to her show of remorse, repayment of stolen items, and being a first-time offender.

In her sentencing remarks, Judge June Jelas said there are “many other punitive consequences that Ms. Ghahraman has already suffered that I also acknowledge and take into account.”

“She has suffered the loss of employment, income and significant adverse effects on her mental health,” the judge said.

“I have carefully considered whether or not a conviction of itself would be a sufficient punitive response. However, I have concluded that there should be some additional penalty.”

Former MP ‘Deeply Regretful’

The judge said she accepted that Ms. Ghahraman was “deeply regretful for her offending” and hoped she would find another way to work with the community she has “tirelessly endeavoured to serve.”

That echoes Ms. Ghahraman’s words when she resigned in January.

“The best thing for my mental health is to resign as a Member of Parliament and to focus on my recovery and to find other ways to work for positive change in the world,” she said at the time.

The Green MP claimed stress relating to her work had led her to “act in ways that are completely out of character.”

“I am not trying to excuse my actions, but I do want to explain them,” she said at the time.

“The mental health professional I see says my recent behaviour is consistent with recent events giving rise to extreme stress response and relating to previously unrecognised trauma.”

In her submissions made on June 24, before the judge reserved her decision, Ms. Ghahraman’s lawyer Annabel Cresswell outlined the former MP’s life as a first-generation refugee who had fled the war in Iran.

Ms. Cresswell said mental health underpinned the offending, and 2023 was when Ms. Ghahraman began the deterioration towards a mental health crisis.

A medical report tendered to the court said she had since been diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Prolonged Duress Stress Disorder.

This was from her early life in Iran, but also the “public vitriol, threats, and abuse” she received during Ms. Ghahraman’s time as an MP, Ms. Cresswell claimed.

The threats were “constant, ongoing, and credible” and included rape and death, resulting in the MP receiving the same level of security as former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern from 2019 through to her resignation.

The judge said she had seen examples of some of the threats and considered them to be “deeply disturbing.”

Mental Health Not An Excuse For Shoplifting: Prosecutor

However, Crown Solicitor Alysha McClintock opposed the application for a discharge without conviction, submitting the offending was not a “moment of madness” but rather a spree of shoplifting.

“This was considered conduct that was repeated,” Ms. McClintock said.

She also contested the defence submissions about the link between Ms. Ghahraman’s mental health and her offending.

“There is nowhere near a material contribution of her mental health to the shoplifting … it is no more than a possibility,” Ms. McClintock said.

In court documents, Ms. Ghahraman stated that the media had camped outside her home for three weeks when the allegations first emerged. However, there was no evidence to support this claim.


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