Barry Soper: Sarah Dowie, the police inquiry, and the text from her phone

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 25 January 2019, 6:39AM
National MP Sarah Dowie.
National MP Sarah Dowie.

COMMENT

Sarah Dowie, the 43-year-old National MP for Invercargill, is in the spotlight over a text allegedly sent from her phone to Jami-Lee Ross including the words "you deserve to die".

We have decided to name her following the police decision this week to investigate a text allegedly sent from her phone to her 33-year-old former lover during the early hours of a Saturday morning last August.

It was the text, on top of a number of other factors, which Ross claimed pushed him over the edge in October, leading to a police manhunt and seeing him committed to hospital under the Mental Health Act. Ross claims he had at the time again came across the text as he was scrolling through his phone.

The decision to name Dowie in no way countenances the behaviour of Ross towards the women who have anonymously made claims of harassment and bullying against him.

It's not the Parliamentary Press Gallery's job to protect MPs when a police investigation is under way.

The police will be examining the text allegedly sent from Dowie's phone to Ross to decide whether a prosecution should follow.

It's a criminal offence to incite suicide. If the text is found to be in breach of the Harmful Digital Communications Act, the sender could face up to 3 years in prison, or 14 years if the person tries to commit suicide. Before 2015, it was only an offence if someone tried to take their life.

The text sent to Ross said: "Before you interpret this as your usual narc self - don't. Interpret it as me - you are a f***ing ugly MF pig. Shave that f***ing tuft of hair off your f***ing front of skull head and own your baldness - you sweaty, fat, toe inturned mutant. You deserve to die and leave your children in peace and your wife out of torment - f***er!"

Ross says the text was one of the things that triggered a mental breakdown in October.

After re-reading it, he allegedly sent it to Dowie telling her "you get your wish," before turning his phone off. After being alerted, the police found him south of Auckland.

Ross claims the police recently approached him about the text.

Unsuccessful attempts over several days have been made to contact Dowie.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

 LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
 YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
 KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
 WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757

Marcus Lush Nights

Marcus Lush Nights

8PM - Midnight