A child-sex offender who believes giving a DNA sample would condemn
him to eternal damnation wants an exemption from inclusion on a national
David Hugh Chord, 37, appeared before Judge Peter Butler in
Wellington District Court on Friday for a hearing to decide whether he
will have to provide a DNA sample for a national database.
Chord is a Christian and believed that, if his DNA was taken, he
would be given the "mark of the Beast" and damned for eternity, his
lawyer, Michael Bott, said.
Chord is serving two years and nine months in prison after pleading
guilty to six counts of an indecent act on a young person, and one of an
indecent act on a child last year.
Mr Bott argued Chord's religious belief should exempt him from
having to provide a sample for the database. "Based upon his
interpretation of the Book of Revelation, that means he's effectively
damned and cut off from fellowship with his God."
The law allowed people to be exempted from inclusion in the database
if they would suffer serious harm when the sample was taken and,
according to Chord's faith, he would suffer, Mr Bott argued.
Chord believed giving a DNA sample would cut him off from his God,
and also the Christian community, which would impinge on his
"Feeling damned after you have had a lifetime of faith is in fact
serious harm ... My client will feel ostracised, he will suffer a loss
of belonging, a loss of control, a loss of self-esteem, and will no
longer have a meaningful existence."
Chord's DNA was not required to solve a specific crime, but rather to "bolster a database", Mr Bott said.
But Crown lawyer Kate Salmond said the issue was not whether there should be a database.
An objection to taking a sample had to be based on harm caused by
the actual taking of the sample, and Chord had to show he would suffer
"psychological harm resulting from fear for his mortal soul". Any
exemption of Chord would be "unintended" by the law.
Judge Butler asked Mr Bott whether Chord's belief that anything that
could identify him would inflict the mark of the Beast on him stretched
to photos and fingerprints, which would have been taken when he was
Mr Bott said it did not, but was restricted to DNA, which was the
clearest identifier of individuality. "It's accepted that DNA is the
building block, the key, that shapes human identity."
Judge Butler went on to comment that any God that would damn someone
for eternity because a DNA sample was taken against their will was a
"pretty tough God or deity or supreme being".
Mr Bott agreed, but said that was Chord's belief.
Judge Butler reserved his decision.
So his "god" doesn't mind him sexually abusing kids, but a swab of the cheek is a no-no?