The Law and Order Referendum

and other related issues in New Zealand


Recent events, and some not so recent

There have been two particularly horrific murders in the last month by the same offender(s). A takeaway pizza bar worker, Marcus Doig, was gunned down in cold blood, followed a few days later by the equally cold blooded shooting of bank teller John Vaughan in the Mangere ASB. Two days later the police caught the offenders. Shortly afterwards, his taxpayer funded defence lawyer, Kevin Ryan QC, came up with the astonishing excuse for the killings that the offender "had a heart condition that could stem the flow of blood to his brain. The lack of oxygen "could affect his thought processes". This understandably caused an immense and indignant public reaction, with the NZ Herald receiving over 40 letters condemning Ryan's obscene attempt to excuse his "clients" behaviour.

In a not entirely unrelated matter, the Herald recently revealed that many victims of domestic violence are denied access to legal aid - because their disposable income/assets exceed a piffling $2000. Yet we are paying Kevin Ryan QC vast sums to defend filth like the killer mentioned above. What is wrong with this picture? It is high time something was done to address the huge problems in our legal aid system, that obviously protects the wrong people. Fortunately Sensible Sentencing have taken this on board as one of their goals.

In other news, Labour have at least widened DNA testing, and National have announced their Law and Order Policy which contains several positive developments, including more police, and longer non-parole periods. Their new youth justice policy lowers the age of criminal liability to 12, another hopeful development

The Sentencing and Parole Bill looks as if it will pass into law with a number of major flaws uncorrected. In the meantime there have been many more killings, and the astonishing kidnap of baby Kahu - and her recovery, a fine piece of work by our Police Force. The offender has, as usual a long prior history of violent offending and aggressive behaviour.

It now also appears that this government are preparing to call an early election, having done little to address the issues voted on in the Referendum. It seems that they will probably get away with this, as only ACT appear to be presenting any real alternative approach in the Law and Order area. A recent Harvard University report has found that NZ women are murdered at one of the highest rates in the industrialised world. This saddens but does not surprise us.

Sensible Sentencing have started an online Offenders Database, with the ultimate aim of logging details of every serious violent offender in the last twenty years or so, a mammoth and ceaseless task.... This is really something the government should be doing, as in the US and a number of other countries, but seem unwilling to do.

We mourn the passing of Nan Withers, the much beloved mother of Norm Withers. It was the attack on her that initiated Norm's work on the Referendum. She passed away peacefully, after an operation. Her obituary is here

Rita Croskery, the mother of Micheal Choy and Sensible Sentencing held a meeting in Papakura attended by over 500 people, surely a sign that this will be a major election issue. The Sentencing and Parole Bill has passed its second reading, with many faults not yet corrected. although it has a number of redeeming features, it does also have a number of problems, see the Sensible Sentencing site for more details. On the positive Matt Robson has announced the go-ahead for a new prison in Northland, although it appears to be in a less than ideal location.

Murders assaults and home invasions continue apace. And Tariana Turia, reliable as always, spouted yet more foolishness. This, only weeks after the above-mentioned meeting, serves only to demonstrate yet again how out of touch with the majority of public feeling she is.

The mayhem goes on. An early start was made, the first murder was on New Years Day. It now appears that the Sentencing and Parole Bill may have a couple of quite serious flaws hidden within it. One of these permits a parole board if they are so disposed - and they will be - to release someone at just one third of their sentence. We will see..... More of Tariana Turia's dubious activities have been exposed by Tony Ryall and his team. It seems that her caring for violent offenders extends beyond Maori. She should try extending it to victims...

There has also been another very interesting case demonstrating the core injustice of name suppression. A 37 year old Christchurch businessman was up on charges of attemting to procure a minor for sex - a 12 year old girl! The sad story is here. Now this is the interesting bit. Another Christchurch businessman was severely affected by the case, because a number of his customers and others were under the impression that he was the offender. He was not. Yet again, an innocent suffered due to defence lawyers and our legal system's determination to protect the guilty.

The last fortnight (prior to 18/12/2001) has seen a spate of murders unprecedented in New Zealand history. On the 3rd of December Jennifer Hargreaves, aged 17, was killed by a 31 year old South Auckland man in a ditch in Patumahoe. On the 4th of December half-sisters Saliel Aplin, 12, and Olympia Aplin, 11, were stabbed to death in Masterton by their stepfather, Bruce Thomas Howse, 39. Then on December 8th there was the appalling slaughter at the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA. president William Absolum, 63, cleaner Mary Hobson, 44, and Wayne Johnson, 56, were killed by two Mangere men plus accomplices as yet unknown. A fourth victim, 37-year-old Susan Couch, is fighting for her life in hospital. On the 10th of December farm worker John Bruce Hendry, 40, was found dead in Clinton. On December the 12th 40-year-old Janice Wendy Kenrick, of Hastings, was stabbed to death by a 44-year-old man. Then on the 15th Adrianne Hesketh, 64 was found dead in Haumoana. A couple were shot dead in Rongotea on the 17th. There was also an axe attack in Panmure on the 8th, and a hit and run in Christchurch.

We have a problem here.

About the only more cheering news is that Paul Bailey, the killer of Kylie Smith, has been denied parole, largely due to the efforts of Sensible Sentencing. A huge number of submissions were received, almost all strongly all opposed to his being paroled... Another bright spot amidst the death and violence has been the passing of a bill instigated by Winston Peters giving local authorities extensive powers to ban alcohol in public places and police more powers of search, seizure and arrest. Given that much violent crime is alcohol fueled this can only be a good thing.

National MP Tony Ryall has recently uncovered the activities of Tariana Turia as the result of some dogged investigation. In her position as Associate Minister of Corrections she intervened on behalf of numerous offenders, many of them violent, at the request of constituents. This was against the rules in the Ministerial manual, but in reality, this is not what aroused so much public indignation. What upset people is not so much that she broke the rules contained in some Ministerial manual, but that she did so in the interests of some pretty serious violent offenders, and not their victims.

Had she done the same sort of thing - but in the interests of crime victims, rather than offenders, it is unlikely that anyone would have given a damn. Keep in mind also that the people who most often seem to be the victims of "Maori crime" are....other Maori. She is not helping her own people, quite the contrary.

In the news recently has been the astonishing incident where a policeman lost his job for handcuffing a 16 year old up and coming lowlife after he insulted and then tried to assault the policeman. The very next week the same person committed a burglary.... and then tried to blame that on the "trauma" caused by the cop's perfectly reasonable treatment of him the previous week! And then, even more incredibly, it appears that he may receive substantial compensation for this!....

In other news, National MP Tony Ryall has attempted to get this government to account for the rise in youth crime in the last couple of years. Is there a connection between this and the above incident... of course not.... (end sarcasm)...

The slaughter goes on. A 20 year chef, Micheal Coffin was killed by a man who has now been arrested. Truck driver Hamish Cameron was killed by four men in Kaitaia. But the case that has had the most impact has been the killing of Micheal Choy while delivering pizzas, by a group of kids, one as young as twelve. His mother blamed politicians for their inaction on New Zealands ongoing crime problem. It is hard to disagree...

In better news, VOICE recently had a successful conference in Auckland, attended by almost a hundred people, at which a lady from New South Wales Victim Support presented a set of laws which address many of the issues that need dealing with here. Mr Goff who was also present, was asked some pointed questions... Sensible Sentencing had an equally successful meeting in Pukekohe the next day. The pressure for change is building up.

An elderly Tauranga woman has been murdered in yet another home invasion. And in yet another probation service failure, a man was sent to live with his wife even though he had threatened to kill her and had just done time for assaulting her. Anyone could see what was going to happen next... Yet another quite unnecessary death.

In slightly more cheerful news, time is fast running out for the animal who killed Teresa Cormack in 1987. Advances in DNA technology have allowed forensic scientists to build up a far more precise genetic profile of the offender from one of the foreign hairs found on her body, than was previously possible.

One of the scumbag gang members who was compensated in the Mangaroa case has already reoffended. Just goes to show how irredeemable these lowlifes really are....

The recent appalling killing of a tourist in the Northen Territory has led some to question the effectiveness of their Three Strikes policy. However it is quite probable that the killer was from out of state (NT is bordered by three states without Three Strikes) and nobody could sensibly pretend that it will prevent all murders anyway.

The two scumbags who killed Jason Johnson have been arrested.They are father and son, and both have strings of prior convictions, including armed robbery and assault, along with the usual burglaries and so on. The 23 year old man who ran down, raped, then killed a jogger Dartelle Alder has also gone before the court.

The horrific murder of a pensioner in broad daylight in Geraldine is still being investigated. And a Korean shopkeeper has been bashed to death in Auckland. There have been some other killings in the last month, plus the usual rapes and bashings.

In rather more cheerful news, the legislation that will enable 11-1 jury verdicts has just been unveiled, a small step, but at least it's in the right direction.

Sensible Sentencing is rapidly growing, a pilot organisational meeting was held in Auckland recently, and they are already up and running in Christchurch and several smaller centres. You can join up via their 900 number 0900 SAFENZ. See Good News for more.

In yet another disgusting demonstration of how out of touch our legal system is with the public and crime victims, a serial rapist acknowleged by the Parole Board to have psychopathic tendencies is to be awarded compensation by the crown on the grounds that the application to have him serve the full sentence was made too late! How different to this case in Chicago where a judge sentenced the subhuman who raped and mutilated a 9 year old girl to no less than 120 years! Roll on the day that sentences like that are handed down here...

The killer responsible for the stabbing to death of a man in his home in Tauranga has been arrested, the case is still under way at the time of writing. Another man was stabbed to death outside a house in Otago, and a 37 year old man was shot dead by a 14 year old.

Another markedly less lamented death has been that of David Poumako, the killer of Beverley Bouma. He died of a heart attack in prison, a far more peaceful death than that of his victim. His death has come as a great relief to Henk Bouma and the people of Reporoa who will now not have to appeal his parole which would have come up in eight years time.

This recent report on the flaws in our mental health system found that of the eleven major violent crimes, including six murders, committed by the mentally ill between 1988 and 1998, eight could have been prevented and two more predicted and possibly prevented.

The Slavich family, the victims of a disgusting murder a decade back, had this appalling piece of Corrections Department insensitivity to deal with recently. Fortunately someone there pulled their heads in smartly and revoked the killers permission to attend the Field Days. It appears the Sensible Sentencing Group were partly responsible for this rapid about-face.

However the Slavich's still have the Parole Board Hearings to cope with. The killer is still only 26, and there are serious doubts about how "reformed" or "rehabilitated" this creature is. This is a good example of a case where life should really mean life.

A new and disgusting first for New Zealand - two home invasions in one day, one resulting in a man being stabbed to death in front of his wife. As of the time of writing, the subhuman responsible is yet to be located, but he is believed to have been on probation, surprise surprise.... The other home invasion merely resulted in the theft of a vehicle, although no doubt it too was a traumatic experience for those involved.

There have been a few other murders including that of an elderly man in Waterview in Auckland, and plenty of bashings and assaults as usual. Meanwhile in the USA, violent crime continues to drop as their prison numbers top 2 million. Of course there's no connection..(sarcasm)...

In order to imprison violent offenders, we need to build more prisons. Unfortunately due to outbreaks of NIMBY syndrome there has been considerable resistance to the governments attempts to construct this badly needed prison space. Often it has been in places where the extra jobs are badly needed. Quite apart from protecting us all from the inmates, prisons generate many new, long-lasting work opportunities. It is a pity that the government's efforts are being hampered in this fashion.

There have been two attacks on ambulance officers in the news recently, firstly this one on a callout to a heart attack in Ranui, which resulted in the death of the patient, and then this one by the "patient" in a South Auckland Mall. And this incredibly enough is just the tip of the iceberg. But the common factor seems to have been uncontrolled rage on the part of the offenders,the case with much violent crime.

Rather than set aside ambulance officers as needing special protection under the law - which although God knows they deserve, should not really be necessary - it seems more sensible to isolate those so full of uncontolled rage and get them out of circulation for as long as possible. Because if they cant control their rage with someone that has come to help them or their relatives/friends, what chance is there that they can control themselves around the rest of us?

Anyone with this sort of rage goes way beyond just having an "anger control problem" to being a danger to the rest of us. Perhaps instead of looking at it as a "crime and punishment" issue the problem should be approached as a public safety issue, as suggested elsewhere here.

Matt Robson announced this plan which although it does little for victims, appears to at least recognise that very early rehabilitation is most effective. It also mentions contraception for young offenders, although it could go further down this track. At this stage it appears to be restricted to non-violent offenders only. We will await further details before passing judgement. It bears repeating however that little has been done specifically for crime victims by this (or previous) governments so far.

A new lobby group has been formed, the Sensible Sentencing group, with backing from Mark Middleton and many others. Campaigning for longer sentences for hardcore offences, they had a successful meeting of some 70 people in Hamilton on the 26th of April. The long term plans for the group are as yet uncertain, they are considering forming a political party, but will first sound out public opinion and backing by holding further meetings around the country.

On a different note, a person wrote a letter to the editor in the Listener a while back, a very sensible piece that belies much of the received wisdom about both criminals and victims. The person concerned has had the type of life experiences that give them wisdom sorely lacking in the likes of Matt Robson and Peter Williams QC....

Dermot Nottingham of odometer windback fame is pushing for an inquiry into the shooting of Steven Wallace. He has put the name and a photo of the officer concerned on the website of his business, and has generated immense amounts of publicity for himself by so doing.... The Police Association are understandably irate, and Phil Goff has sensibly reacted by deciding to instigate law changes to prevent or at least obstruct further actions of this type.

This is the inevitable downside of freedom of speech on the internet. However, it would appear that Mr Nottingham may have overestimated public sympathy for this cause. And anyone who has read the report on this matter will be aware that prior to being shot, Wallace had not only threatened the officer concerned, but another officer, a taxi driver, and a passing cyclist who narrowly avoided being killed.

Twelve of NZ's most disgusting offenders, including the vile Malcolm Rewa, have taken a case to the Privy Council that they were "discriminated against" by the Court of Appeal. And incredibly, the Privy Council thought they actually had a case! This just goes to show how badly distorted and out of touch our legal system is with reality.

One of those responsible for this travesty, along with the lawyers named in the story, and who granted legal aid backing to this obscenity, is Attorney General Margaret Wilson, who gave the petition a certificate of exceptional public importance. This is the same person responsible for the Mangaroa prison debacle. Obviously she learnt nothing from that.

Two horrendous offences have been dominating headlines recently - the cold blooded slaughter of Nicholas Clark by four lowlifes who have had their name suppression lifted part way into the case.

This is interesting, as it shows that the court system is now recognising the futility of name suppression in cases like this. The case is still ongoing at the time of writing. The other offence has been the killing of Marie Jamieson, the investigation into which is still under way.

The Herald ran this story about the Black Power gang going online. Their disgusting website flaunted the goods they had bought with the proceeds of crime at www.blackpower.co.nz until their ISP, Titan did the decent thing and pulled out of the arrangement once they realized what sort of criminal scum they were dealing with.

The site then moved to 50Megs.com for a short while, who then also pulled the site after they decided that it breached two of their conditions on web hosting forbidding the provision of hate sites and also those promoting or supporting organised crime. After this burst of ugliness the site was offline for a while until they stumbled across one of the more amoral providers in the USA that no doubt also hosts spammers and outfits like the Ku Klux Klan......

In some respects, their online presence is a good thing, as it is a salutary reminder of the problems that exist out there in realityland, and while it remains up no-one can pretend the problem does not exist. As much as we dislike what the site represents, we do not want it censored. Like a site presenting full colour pictures of syphilitic sores, our problem is not so much with the site itself but with that which it depicts. To further the analogy, we wish to see the elimination of syphilis itself, not the elimination of internet sites about it!

The home detention anklet scheme has also made the news recently - but for the wrong reasons! Three criminals had managed to cut them off and evade detection. This would not be so worrying were it not for the fact that it is now being applied to some violent offenders, including rapists. Another criminal managed to commit a serious aggravated robbery while on home detention. This scheme has serious technical and other shortcomings, making it quite unsuitable for use with violent offenders.

The latest initiative from Phil Goff has been the very encouraging Sentencing and Parole Act, on which public submissions are now being taken. It should pass into legislation next March, hopefully intact, maybe even toughened if we are lucky. described in depth in this Herald article and also here. The Briefing Paper is also available.

While not without its flaws, for instance its reliance on the judiciary to make satisfactory decisions, and the fact that it is not retrospective, it does include many important advances, such as making it possible to imprison offenders indefinitely, raising the minimum non-parole period for serious murder cases to 17 years from 10, lowering the minimum age at which preventative detention can be imposed to 18 from 21, and making criminals serving life or preventative detention wait five years between parole applications, rather than one.

Reparation to victims will also be extended to cover physical harm. As Norm Withers stated, this legislation, if it makes it into law intact, will be an important step towards achieving the objectives of the referendum.

In another encouraging development, the Law Commission is looking at overturning our antiquated and obsolete "double jeopardy" rule which prevents someone being tried twice for the same crime. However, they still only recommended second trials under extremely limited and restrictive circumstances, unlike many European countries, such as Germany.

Even the English themselves, from whom we inherited our justice system, have amended this archaic rule (almost a thousand years old!) and are looking at further changes. The same commission has also recommended that majority verdicts be permitted in addition to the unanimous verdicts required currently. This would hugely reduce the incidence of hung juries, such as that in the recent trial of the wife of a Samoan tatooist. This issue is also examined in further depth here.

The big news has been the movement triggered by Mark Middleton. He has caused a storm of public controversy and debate about the law and order issue, an extremely healthy and desirable development. But the most hopeful sign has been that protests all around the nation have spurred action from Phil Goff, and more importantly, seem to have influenced the judges decision in the case.

This is immensely important, and signals a paradigm shift in the public perception of our legal system - the public now view it as something that is not immune to pressure to change from those whom it is meant to serve. This is an enormously significant point, and hopefully the public will recognise that yes, we can make change happen. See seperate article here, and an excellent piece from the Listener by ACT MP Steve Franks.

We will no longer be attempting to put the details of every rape, killing or beating up on this page. Sorry, there's just too many to keep track of. Only the most appalling atrocities and injustices will be noted. There were over 40 incidents of domestic violence on Christmas Day alone. Two taxi drivers have been stabbed, there's been another home invasion or two, a couple of drive by shootings, one in Levin, one in Rotorua, plus some stabbings. Here's some of it here and here.

We will still attempt to note any moves towards - or away from - a better, more victim oriented justice system. On this subject, about the only thing of note has been recent moves in Britain to give juries access to the criminal records of trial defendants, an excellent idea see our Justice Reform section. Unfortunately even Phil Goff has quashed the idea, a sad departure from common sense from him, given that he has often been on the pulse of public opinion on these matters.

Defence lawyers QC Williams, Barry Hart and others of that ilk appeared on Holmes, deeply upset about the death in Mt Eden prison of Shannon Leonard. While it is true that Mt Eden is an obsolete and unsuitable facility (and in the wrong place), they could perhaps have been more careful in their selection of offender whose untimely death they chose to campaign about. The Herald diligently dug out the facts about his past record, and it seems he was far from being some misguided innocent.

It seems that both Holmes and QC Williams, Hart et al rather misjudged public reaction, for it was not at all what they appeared to be expecting, indeed the public reaction to their cause was muted at best and mostly highly unsympathetic. Upon reading out a selection of missives that had arrived by fax, mail, email, carrier pigeon, etc the next night, Holmes described them as being "ungenerous". Hmmmmm...

Yet another atrocity : a restaurant owner was seriously assaulted defending one of his waitresses from a racist attack by two scum. The Malaysian owner of the Melting Pot Restaurant in Takapuna ended up in North Shore Hospital for two days. We are yet to hear the outcome of this case or the details of the two offenders.

George Hawkins, who we would have thought knew better, recently came up with this bizzare proposal that police recruits pay for their own training. It appears that the Robson syndrome - floating widly impractical ideas that fly in the face of public opinion - is spreading.

Brian Neeson, the National police spokesman, brought some sanity to the proceedings by pointing out that the police are more comparable to the army, being as they are an essential service. The Police are having trouble attracting quality recruits as it is, this would only worsen things.

And then he comes up with this spark of brilliance : taking cellphones off police officers to "save money". Surely someone is spiking his drinks at Bellamy's...

This came on the tail of the revelation that prison inmates phone calls are still not being monitored, two years after urgent legislation was passed to ensure this was done. Apparently the delays have been due to wrangling over the cost of the equipment - which would be trivial compared to the cost to society of crimes organised from behind bars, as Ken Shirley sensibly pointed out.

And yet in another piece of judicial insanity, a police officer who surveyed a jury narrowly escaped prosecution. Yet this is exactly the sort of thing that we should be doing in order to improve the quality of our justice system, to ensure that it is functioning properly. He should have been commended for his initiative, not disciplined. We need to be taking brave, radical actions like this if we are to get the real improvements our justice system needs.

There has at least been some good news. Phil Goff has been very active, pushing a number of law revisions that will result in longer sentences and more favourable conditions for victims. In more good news, we have heard little from Matt Robson. The Herald carried this interesting profile of him recently. The most salient points are towards the bottom of this piece where very instructive comparisons are made with the experiences of ACT's Law and Order spokesman Steve Franks.

Two lowlifes were in court for a late night attack on a gay waiter in Fort St that nearly resulted in his death, demonstrating once again that homophobia is at its worst amonst the dregs of society. It seems that the two offenders have now received sentences of 10 and 7.5 years respectively. Meanwhile their victim is struggling to regain some semblance of the enormous talents and abilities he had before the attack. His sentence will be for life it seems...

Meanwhile Morgan Fahey, who raped numerous woman while still a doctor, is complaining about conditions in prison. Tough!

Another recent atrocity has been the knife attack on a pregnant woman and her mother in a Warehouse branch in Tauranga recently. The offender in this case seems to have fallen through one of the many gaping cracks in the mental health system.

And our wonderful justice system is about to release 610 violent criminals on us next year - and 1400 in the next three years - all because of the current policy of releasing offenders when they have served only two thirds of their sentence.

Meanwhile, those offenders that aren't imprisoned ignore their fines to the tune of 311 million dollars. This includes traffic fines - but also it includes reparations to victims, who remain unpaid. And as a result of cutbacks in police staff numbers, there is no-one left to chase any of these fines up - there is a 400 case backlog in Auckland alone, including some serious rape and child abuse cases.

What is needed is more frontline police, not further reductions as recently happened in West Auckland. And our overstretched probation service does not need more violent, high risk offenders out on parole wearing detention bracelets, either, as proposed by Matt Robson.

A new victims group has been started by the families and friends of Kylie Jones and Karen Stanley-Hunt. They are campaigning for longer sentences and to make Parole Board hearings public, both highly desirable objectives that will empower all victims of violent crime. See VOICE! for a full write up on this. They are now online here.

Probably the worst obscenity this year (2000) has been the payout to four worthless gang thugs over some alleged mistreatment by prison guards. They include a rapist and the offender who nearly stabbed a policeman to death a few years ago. See The Latest Obscenity.

They have received an apology and a substantial payout from the state. Where is the apology and payout to Kylie Jones' partner and family? Or to Shiu Prasad's family? Or to all the other victims of crimes like those these offenders have committed? This is a good example of what Norm was talking about when he said that offenders get better treatment than victims.

While politicians talk and obfuscate (and the previous administration were no better), people continue to die. We still await the outcome of this case, the cold blooded murder of Shiu Prasad, a loving and deeply religious pillar of the Hindu community in Auckland, a family man whose life was taken by a worthless lowlife for the sake of $150.

The full details of the offender are not yet known, but it wont be any surprise to find that, like Taffy Hotene, he has a long track record of violence, and yet again a family is grieving because an offender he been released on parole from a sentence that was grossly inadequate in the first place.

Other current horrors include the slaughter of Christine Lundy and her daughter Amber. As of the time of writing, the rock under which the killer has crawled has yet to be found and the repulsive thing that murdered these two innocents exposed to daylight.

There is also the roadrage case that nearly resulted in the death of Jim Ellyett . A 30 year old "man" has been arrested in this case, and turns out to have been an overstayer.

There has been some good news. The Herald won the name suppression case, and have established an extremely important principle, that the workings of the justice system must be open to the public, and they must apply to all equally regardless of position and wealth. As it happens, the actual offence was pretty trivial, and victimless in nature. Had Peter Lewis been named and sentenced in line with other people facing similar charges, to say, a largish fine, his name would have been forgotten within days, perhaps even hours.

a piece of Filth A piece of Filth (Herald picture)

And one piece of filth has been put where it belongs for a period yet to be disclosed. James Wilson, the leader of the Filthy Few gang, executed an ex-girlfriend, the culmination of a long history of brutality. He is filth and has conveniently labelled himself as such on the forehead.

Another convicted rapist who then went on to kill has also been sentenced, Travis Burns. He has been sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment, and the Crown is applying for a minimum non-parole period of least 13 years. Maybe someone is listening at last?

And we must never forget Kylie Jones who was murdered in an unprovoked attack not 150 metres from her home by a 30 year old lowlife, Taffy Hotene. The full details of his past history are yet to be revealed, but this is unlikely to be his first offence to say the least. ( Webmaster's note; it wasn't! See the full history here )

Her partner and family are understandably angry and want to see that the offender is punished . It would be good if he is - but realistically it is unlikely he will get what he really deserves given current sentencing standards. The only preventative move that has been suggested so far is better lighting.

A bit pathetic really given the gravity and horror of this situation. Kylie Jones' grieving family and partner, and the decent citizens of Glen Innes deserve more and better than this. What is needed is to clean up the streets. Lighting merely means we can see the filth more clearly, perhaps not a bad thing in itself, but nothing like good enough!

The other case that has considerable relevance is that of James Whakaruru , or rather,his killer, Ben Haerewa. Many people have been blaming the mother or her immediate family for this tragic death, or the doctors that tended him, or the various social agancies that should have protected him. This is wrong and quite unjust for the family, who have enough to contend with as it is. What has been forgotten is that blame should primarily rest with the person who did the killing - Haerewa.

Our "justice" system also has much to answer for. If Haerewa had been imprisoned for at least 10 years for the first time he seriously assaulted James (when James was only two years old) then James Whakaruru would still be alive today.

While it is true that the social agencies did not perform adequately in this case, and the medical system could have been more proactive in protecting James, no amount of liberal hand wringing over these issues will do anything to prevent another case like this. It comes down to putting vicious thugs like Haerewa away for long periods to protect children like James, vulnerable young women like his mother, not to mention the rest of us.

Had Ben Haerewa been left to rot where he belongs, James could then have had a real chance of getting the care he needed, and his mother could also have been given the care in assistance she so obviously needed. Those who place the blame for James' death on her forget that she had a lot of problems herself, and could hardly be expected to stand alone against a thug like Haerewa, who probably bullied and controlled not only James but her as well. Protecting James was what the justice system should have done. It failed.

See also Progress? to see what is being done (if anything) about these events.

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