A woman accused of an alleged racial attack in Huntly in which several women were abused for being Muslim has admitted her misdeeds.
Megan Sarah Louise Walton, 27, of no fixed abode in Auckland, appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Monday, charged with assault, assault using a can of alcohol as a weapon, and behaving “in an insulting manner that was likely in the circumstances to cause violence against persons”.
The assault with a weapon charge comes with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, that charge was amended to the lesser charge of assault under the Crimes Act – which has a maximum penalty of one year in jail – and through her counsel Gerard Walsh she pleaded guilty to all three charges.
Through Walsh she applied for bail, and this was granted by Judge Noel Cocurullo. However, she has to return to court on Wednesday for this to be reviewed.
The conditions of Walton’s bail include not to drink alcohol and to report daily to the Huntly Police Station.
A date for sentencing will likely be set at her Wednesday court appearance.
Speaking to media outside court following her appearance, Walton said she wanted to apologise to her victims and she was sorry for what had happened.
It is not known why Walton was at the Huntly public toilets, where the attack occurred.
Aucklander Mehpara Khan complained to police after she and four friends stopped for a break in the Waikato town on Saturday during a road trip.
The 28-year-old corporate communications consultant said they had been travelling back to Auckland from New Plymouth when they stopped for a rest break and were approached by Walton who, they said, abused and then threw a beer can at them.
“Two of the group went to the bathroom, the rest of us got out of the car to stretch our legs and were standing by the car,” on State Highway 1 next to the Waikato River.
“All of a sudden, this woman comes out of the bathroom and starts swearing at us and telling us that we don’t belong there and that we are Muslim b……, that need to F-off, basically,” said Khan.
The woman threw a beer can at Khan and her two friends.
“At this point I decided to start filming her. We couldn’t leave because our friends were still in the bathroom.”
Much of the attack was captured in a video Khan recorded on her cellphone and posted on social media.
Khan said the abuser also took a swing at her, which she was able to block. When she took another swing, her friend blocked it.
The woman eventually walked away, but she came back as the group of women were securely in their car.
“We locked the doors and were about to back out when the woman returned and tried to get into the car and started slamming on the windows.”
Eventually a man approached the attacker and tried to calm her down.
Once the group arrived back in Auckland, they lodged a complaint with the police in Manukau.
According to the police summary of facts – which mirrors Khan’s account of the incident – Walton said she was too inebriated to remember it.
Judge Cocurullo ordered a pre-sentence report and called for a restorative justice meeting to be arranged, if possible.
He also asked for a Section 38 report on Walton’s mental well-being to be provided to the court.