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New Zealand

White supremacist who shared mosque vid appeals sentence

A white supremacist who shared the Christchurch mosque shooting video, and had it modified to include crosshairs and "kill count", is appealing his 21-month jail sentence.

But the Crown say "violent" letters he recently allegedly sent from prison to a New Zealand media organisation might affect his final sentence.

Phillip Neville Arps, who compares himself to Adolf Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess and owns a white supremacist-themed Christchurch insulation company, was jailed in June after admitting two charges of distributing objectionable publication after the March 15 mosque killings.

Today, he appealed his sentence to the High Court in Christchurch, arguing that it was "manifestly excessive".

His lawyer, Anselm Williams, claimed that Arps, 44, should've avoided jail and been sentenced to either a community-imposed sentence or one of home detention.

He argued that Arps had been sentenced on his extreme views rather than the acts he pleaded guilty to.

The court earlier heard how Arps shared the video with a group of 30 "friends or associates" that he chatted to online after the shooting.

Millions of people worldwide from all walks of life had done the same thing, Williams said.

But Arps also had a version of the video modified to have crosshairs and a "kill count" added, which District Court Judge Stephen O'Driscoll said had "glorified" the killings.

It was, in effect, a hate crime against the Muslim community, the judge said.

When he was arrested and asked by police about the victims' deaths, he replied, "I could not give a f***, mate".

His lawyer today said he deleted the video as soon as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was unlawful for people to possess or share it.

Arps remains the only person facing charges of possessing or sharing the video to be named in the media and have his photograph published.

Unlike others, once he is released from prison, he will not be able to keep a low profile "or put his head above the parapet without being noticed", Williams said.

He has no connection with the man charged with the March 15 murders but is now linked to him "because of what happened and how the media has reported that", his lawyer said.

He added that Arps "is not a member of any organisation that has engaged in violent activities and he doesn't aspire to commit any violent activities".

The Crown today said the District Court judge's starting point was "within range" of the Sentencing Act, with the "creative" element of having a kill count and crosshairs added being an attempt to glorify the attack and appearing to "encourage it or encourage others to act in that manner".

In 2016, Arps was one of a group of men who filmed themselves doing Hitler salutes as they delivered boxes of pigs heads and offal to the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch.

"White power … Bring on the cull," Arps was seen saying in the video.

In that case, he was convicted of offensive behaviour and fined $800.

Crown prosecutor Shivani Dayal that earlier offending, along with the latest crimes, showed a "pattern of behaviour" where Arps is "hostile" to Muslims.

He displayed a "cavalier and callous" attitude to the March 15 attack, lacks empathy and remorse, and Dayal highlighted a pre-sentence report that assessed him as being at a high risk of reoffending.

Dayal said the prospect of Arps changing his views, and therefore reducing the risk of reoffending, is "virtually non-existent".

This morning, Dayal was also informed that Arps had recently sent letters out from prison that "do relate to some violent views".

She was unaware what the letters said but wanted more time to find out as they could be relevant to his appeal case.

Justice Rachel Dunningham gave the Crown until 5pm Monday to lodge further submissions relating to letters sent from prison, and the defence until 5pm Wednesday to respond.

Justice Dunningham reserved her decision.

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