Posted by BE on January 16th, 2012
I rarely find myself in agreement with Garth McVicar or his ‘Sensible Sentencing’ Trust. I’m a liberal in the area of law and order and not a great believer in the value of lengthy prison sentences. But on the issue of Judge Jocelyn Munro’s remark to the 16-year-old who attacked and raped a 5-year-old girl, that he ‘looked smart’ when he appeared before her in the Youth Court, I find myself in near-agreement with Mr McVicar. I wasn’t, as he declared himself, ‘disgusted’ by the judge’s remark, but I thought it displayed extraordinary lack of understanding or empathy towards the feelings of the little girl’s parents.
I hadn’t intended to deal with the issue on this site. The nation’s ‘outrage’ about the crime and the judge’s remark have been well canvassed in other forums. But the defences of the judge’s remarks by her colleagues in the law, published in the press this morning, struck me as so inadequate that I need to respond.
Manukau barrister Kate Leys informed us that, ‘There’s a statutory requirement upon the court to make sure the young person understands and participates in the proceedings’. I really can’t see the relevance of that to complimenting the rapist of a five-year-old girl on being neatly dressed.
Auckland barrister Maria Pecotic agreed with her Manukau colleague: ‘It is to encourage the young person to continue to take that care.’ That argument seems to me to suggest, ‘Well, he may have raped a 5-year-old girl, but at least he takes pride in his appearance.’ I come close to being ‘disgusted’ by that suggestion.
Youth advocate Megan Jenkins told us that a judge ‘might have seen the person three weeks earlier, and if there’s a difference, the judges will make comments on that.’ If I were the parent of a five-year-old girl, brutally assaulted and raped, would I find it appropriate for a judge to compliment the defendant on looking smarter at his second appearance than at his first? The question is rhetorical.
Professor Warren Brookbanks of the University of Auckland law-school said ‘what the judge was trying to do was to accept the mandate that young people appearing in court are to be treated as benevolently as possible.’ If Judge Munro had said, ‘It’s to your credit that you have given yourself up and that you have expressed the wish to plead guilty,’ I would have found that acceptable. But it’s the very triviality of her compliment that goes to the heart of the insult which her remark offered the girl’s parents – the distance between the bad thing which the boy did (raping a five-year-old girl) and the good thing on which he was complimented (dressing nicely to come to court). That distance is a chasm so wide that to attempt to bridge it defies reason and human sympathy.
All of the arguments in defence of Judge Munro were advanced within the context of the hearing having been in the Youth Court. In a sense the defendant’s age is therefore presented in mitigation of his crime. The media report that ‘the boy’s mother read in court a prayer written by him in which he asked God to forgive him’. Leaving aside Her Honour’s (to me) extraordinary decision to allow this self-interested mumbo-jumbo to be delivered in her court at all, it’s difficult to reconcile this sympathetic emphasis on the youthfulness of the defendant with the nature of the crime which requires male sexual maturity and brutish force.
I don’t blame the defendant’s parents for doing everything in their power on behalf of their son. If he were my son, I would have done exactly the same thing, though without the prayer. That is what unconditional love for one’s children is all about. And they are to be applauded. They have behaved responsibly and well.
But the plain fact is that any lawyer will be at pains to persuade their client of the importance of looking both respectable and respectful when they appear in court, of making ‘a good impression’. And the more heinous the crime, the more important that impression is. Criminal defence lawyer, the late Mike Bungay QC, with whom I co-authored a book on murder in New Zealand, not only instructed his clients (primarily murderers and rapists) on the importance of dressing well in court, but often drew a chalk mark on the dock for his clients to look down at while listening to the evidence against them. Their bowed heads were intended to convey shame and remorse.
I very much doubt that ‘looking smart’ was this defendant’s own idea. It will have been on his lawyer’s and his parents’ advice and they were right to give it. But it is a strategy to suggest that something has changed. It was intended, as the prayer was, to say, ‘I am not the same young man who raped a five-year-old girl a matter of weeks ago. Just look at me. You can see that I am someone else.’ No doubt without intending to, Judge Munro validated that impression by complimenting the 16-year-old defiler on his appearance.
Here, finally, is what the little girl’s parents said:
‘We urge the court to consider the impact this has had and will continue to have for years on our daughter and our family.
‘We find it difficult to believe that that this boy who did this to our daughter three weeks ago can write beautiful prayers to God now.
‘Our daughter was fast asleep when this boy violated her and stole something from her that can never be returned.
‘We felt the judge’s comment about the offender’s smart looking [appearance] was out of place.’
That was the impact of Judge Munro’ remark on them. That is what they felt. End of story.
If the judge had made a negative comment about the accused’s appearance, that would’ve been acceptable? Unfortunately, there is no transcript of what the judge said and the context for her comment. The judge may have said ‘It’s to your credit that you have given yourself up and that you have expressed the wish to plead guilty’. We simply don’t know.
BE: “If the judge had made a negative comment about the accused’s appearance, that would’ve been acceptable?” Well, if I’d made that suggestion, it might be worth replying to, but I didn’t.
I wasn’t recommending that the judge say, ‘It’s to your credit that you have given yourself up and that you have expressed the wish to plead guilty’ I was merely saying that, if she had said that, it would have been of greater moment and more acceptable than telling him he looked smart.
Ross: No comment at all on the defendant’s appearance would be better (for the family of the VICTIM) than this supposedly innocuous compliment.
I think you’re missting the point, Lynette. Apparently it is not unusual for such comments to be made and it smacks of the media looking for a non-story. Again, we don’t have the context for the judge’s comment. A recent article about the case referred to the accused as “neatly dressed”. Should reporters be chided for using such language?
BE: Reporters aren’t held to the same standards or subject to the same rules as judges. This comparison is just plain silly.
The point you seem to be missing is that the media did not initiate this complaint about the judge’s comments. The little girl’s parents did.
Off-topic comments from the judiciary are often an indicator of a skewed perspective and a “turkey timer” announcing that person’s readiness to be pensioned off into relative obscurity.
Nobody in their right minds would offer an opinion like this from the bench in a case that has already attracted such intense public interest and generated such anger.
No credit for surrender, sorry: that is a very small community and it was only a matter of time before the Police got a phone call giving them the right name. This person has most likely already got a name for this kind of behaviour in T-town.
I’m with Brian, and uncomfortable though it is, I acknowledge that Mr McVicar does have the high ground in cases like this.
As for a lovely little poem (prayer) read aloud: if that sways the court then truly, God help the rest of us!
BE: “This person has most likely already got a name for this kind of behaviour in T-town.” I’m glad you’re with me, Mark, but there are no grounds for this particular claim.
Yes very tactless remark by the Judge, what was she thinking? It not as if it’s an innocent until proven situation the boy did plead guilty after all. And some people are even applauding the boy for pleading guilty!
Maybe it is just so shocking for people to comprehend that a 16 yr old did such a crime, they want to believe their is something good in him. But we are judged by our actions not our potential.
The Family Group Conference was on the weekend, now that would have been a challenging affair, I wonder if the victims parents showed up for that.
I have done a few and know they allow a very robust level of honesty.
On another point these charges must surely fall under the “indictable offence” category which means the case has to been eventually heard in a district or high court with the right for a jury trial.
This case should get moved pretty quickly out of the youth court and out of Judge Jocelyn – you look smart – Munro’s hands.
“I was merely saying that, if she had said that, it would have been of greater moment and more acceptable than telling him he looked smart.”
But, Brian, we don’t know exactly what the judge did say. The judge might have said and probably did say far more important things than the comment you quoted. There is absolutely no context for her reported comment.
As an aside, it was reported:
“We felt the judge’s comments about the offender’s smart looking (appearance) was out of place. We were concerned when we read them,” the parents said, according to the New Zealand Herald.
So the parents read about the comments; they didn’t hear them?
BE: In response to both your comments, Ross: There has been no denial or correction from the judge and, until there is, I’m going to accept that the media got this right. It’s also worth noting that her colleagues, defending her in the press this morning, all take the view that this sort of remark is commonplace from judges in the Youth Court.
Honestly Ross. Are you seriously suggesting that the little girl’s parents shouldn’t have commented because they only “read” the judges comments? What colour is the sky in your world?
I was discussing this case with one of my neighbours before xmas (before the arrest) and we agreed that no gang member would have violently assaulted and raped a five year old girl. In fact neither of us could believe that any human being would do this.
While I appreciate that the Youth Court is required to be “benevolent” towards young offenders, I would expect judges to take into account the gravity of the crime and the revulsion felt by most New Zealanders to such animalistic behaviour in our country. Surely common decency should have taken precedence over such trivia as the offender’s dress sense.
I was equally disgusted by the judge’s comments. And yes Ross… I only read them too.
Two points Brian
Presumption of innocence
And Judges are instructed not to enter the cock-pit so would never try to deny or correct what the media said may have happend
You only have to sit through one trial to see how the media slants things (rightly or wrongly) to know that
BE: Well, unless the media have misreported this as well, this defendant has indicated through his lawyer that he intends to plead guilty to the charges. I suppose that situation could still change and he might decide to change his plea to not guilty, in which case the presumption of innocence would apply, albeit somewhat undermined by the previous statement of intent.
Mike Bungay never asked his clients whether they were guilty as charged because, he reasoned, they were generally ignorant of the defences available to them.
I can see that it would be improper for a judge to start debating in the media the rights or wrongs of a case or the rights or wrongs of any statement they had made during the course of a trial. But I can’t actually see why a judge should not not correct a damaging false report of something they are alleged to have said but didn’t say. This particular judge has been criticised by the child’s parents and vilified in the media. If she did not use words to the effect ‘you look smart’, then I would have thought it was her absolute right to issue a denial or have a senior officer of he courts do so, or perhaps issue proceedings against the media who published this damaging untruth.
Excellent Post Brian 10/10.D
How unprofessional for a reporter to deliberately report the comment and how far far worse that the witch hunters should have then worried such a small animal so badly. What on Earth is going on with you lot? You sound like a lynch mob!
This blog is on the media and that means journalism and what some young kid reporter did was introduce to a very serious case a great deal of “highly inflammable nothing” for no other reason than to fan the witch hunting blaze that was already well alight. That young reporter has won, just like Rupert. He or she’s been “top-lined” by the editor and is on to their next story while the emotional fire they thoughtlessly stoked has then raged on for days.
Often a huge amount of “nothing” is the most inflammatory and inaccurate news of all.
Truth in print. Yeah right!
BE: I’m more inclined to think that you are the one who has lost their reason here. Who is the ‘young kid reporter’ you are talking about? And why should the judge’s comment not have been published, as should the fact that she allowed the boy’s mother to read out a poem he had written. Further, in the context of a crime of this gravity, telling the defendant that he ‘looked smart’ was surprising at best and insensitive to the child’s parents at worst. You also seem to have overlooked the fact that it the child’s parents indicated how upset they were with the comment. Should that perhaps not have been published either? We live in a free society in which it is essential that the executive and the judiciary be held to account by the media. This wasn’t an argument you presented. It was a prejudiced rave about a sector you clearly have no time for.
I think this shows a distinct lack of empathy for the victim.No manner of dress should have any bearing on this case!
Bungay on Murder is a personal favourite.
small animal, paul mack? get some perspective. to that wee 5 year old girl the perpetrator was obliteratingly large and powerful. and that’s the fact and the perspective.
Brian’s complaints are a bit rich.
Mr Edwards is just the kind of namby pamby liberal that is responsible for the ineffectiveness of our Justice system.
By constantly voting for soft on crime far left governments he has helped ensure that NZ has a crime rate that is the second highest in the world. (top is the Dominican Republic)
BE: My goodness, I did all of that! We already put more people in prison per head of population than any other nation other than America. And more than half of them are Maori. So we’re building more prisons!. What you want, you blathering idiot, is even more of the same. Get a brain, for God’s sake!
Spot on Brian – in hindsight i’m sure the judge wishes she never uttered the words she did. However the true test of the judiciary will be what is said during sentencing assuming the accused has indeed pled guilty.
Although I have the distinct feeling I will feel ill when more details of the accused’s crime, previous behaviour, family and upbringing come to light
I can neither readily locate the comments of the Judge nor that of McVicar.
I think it somewhat inopportune to have an opinion on either until I know the context of both.
Can anyone help?
Professor Warren Brookbanks of the University of Auckland law-school said ‘what the judge was trying to do was to accept the mandate that young people appearing in court are to be treated as benevolently as possible.
Sorry. This is not just another typical young criminal or thug. He did not rob a bank, or get in a scrap, or even beat his girlfried.
He raped a five year old girl.
He is not a ‘young person’, or a ‘boy’.
He is a vile evil piece of anthropoid refuse who society would have every moral right to frog march to the gallows upon his guilt being confirmed.
This animal is beyond anyform of rehabilitation. And if perchance he is ever released back into society (which he undoubtedly will be), I’m sure if he ended up in a house next to Judge Munro’s or Megan Jenkins – while they had young children or young grandchildren, they would take an entirely different point of view of things.
I have been a criminal defence lawyer for over 10 years. I have read Brian Edwards comments and I could not agree with them more. I consider that Judge Monro should apologise to the little girls parents; and I hope that she has sufficient humility to do so.
You sound like a lynch mob!
Nothing wrong with wanting vengeance – so long as his guilt is established through the normal correct legal channels.
Surely at this stage, we should not be providing this vermin with a platform and a forum for his bs ‘prayer’?
And come on. Do you really believe he wrote that prayer? (which in any case was so self-indulgent, so self-serving, that he should have time added on for it).
The judges job is to get to the truth and convict the person responsible. It maybe have been necessary to make sure a comment to engage the offender.
Had the offender turned up in grubby clothes, it would have been more of an insult to the family.
What I don’t understand is the reaction to this, which is being fuelled by the media. We haven’t been party to all the details, or the police case, we don’t know what else the judge said, or in what context or with what sort of expression.
We have a few words in a media report. A media which only a few weeks ago was being accused of being manipulative and dishonest by our Prime Minister.
What is needed in this case is truth, and reality. Feeding the frenzy is an insult to the family of this victim, and they have been through enough.
The thing is that we look up to the Judiciary for wisdom and good judgment – both conspicuous by their absence in this case. The comments were certainly newsworthy against that backdrop, and will no doubt be beamed around the world to further reinforce racial stereotypes and the ‘Once were Warriors’ culture of violence.
Judge Munro’s words were ill-advised at best. And the defendant, if found guilty, will have crossed a moral Rubicon.
But it’ll all be for naught if the cure ends up being worse than the disease – especially if it takes the form of railcars and furnaces. And whatever happens, I just hope the Turangi teen doesn’t become a recruitment poster for the wannabe cross-burners and Breiviks among us.
I do worry that every word of judges in such cases are minutely taken apart and examined by the media in an attempt to find something that may irritate the reader, and thus sell copy. No one wants to see victims families caused greater anguish, but should that be the responsibility of the courts. Surely their job is to administer justice. Am I the only one who finds the current fashion for victim statements both nauseating and an inappropriate public display. If victims want to grandstand their emotions in these circumstances then surely that is a private matter for themselves. I don’t believe it is the business of the courts to provide a platform for that purpose.
So if ‘………victims want to grandstand their emotions in these circumstances then surely that is a private matter for themselves. I don’t believe it is the business of the courts to provide a platform for that purpose.”
However it’s OK for the offender to have a ghost written prayer read out ?
Really get some perspective you moron.
“We already put more people in prison per head of population than any other nation other than America.”
Abject nonsense. We are 55 on the list with 160/100,000. The US has 715/100,000
I don’t have to call people blithering idiots, I deal in facts and knowledge, not legend. But then I’m not a liberal.
BTW, if liberals stopped chipping away at the moral fibre of our society, crime and therefore incarceration would be far less.
IOW, its all your fault. Stop dodging and wear it.
BE: You’re quite right to take me to task over the figures. I omitted to qualify my claim with the words “in Western democracies”. We surely don’t want to compare ourselves with totalitarian regimes or Third World countries.
Our prison population has been rising for the last 50 years. By October 2010 it had reached a total of 8,892 inmates. We now lock up 199 people per 100,000 Kiwis. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at Kings College, London, this gives us the second highest rate of imprisonment out of 29 countries in the Western world. Third World countries like Gabon, Namibia and Libya have very similar rates of imprisonment to ours. We even do worse than Colombia, despite the drug-related murder and violence in that country. Among developed Western nations only the United States has a worse record than ours.
As to whether you are or are not ‘a blathering idiot’, have a look at my earlier post http://brianedwardsmedia.co.nz/2011/01/a-definition-of-stupidity-repeatedly-trying-the-same-ineffective-solution-to-a-problem-and-why-that-makes-a-majority-of-kiwis-stupid/.
Your solution to resducing crime in New Zealand is based on the idea that harsher penalties, including putting more people in prison for longer, will deter people from committing crimes, particularly crimes of violence. But all the evidence is that it doesn’t work. Offenders, particularly violent offenders, don’t dwell on the consequences of their actions. And they don’t expect to get caught. What you want done is what we’re already doing – only more of it.
And by the way, it was Einstein who defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’
I always find cases like this difficult to comment on. I am a lawyer and I do have faith in our system. I do have a couple of comments though:
First, one reason we have a youth court is that we as a society believe that up until a certain age, young people cannot be held to account for their actions in the same manner as a fully conscious adult, and should not be put through the same process as a fully conscious adult. The more heinous the crime the more likely we are to assert that the kid knew what they were doing and should be treated like the criminal that they are. I for one prefer that we err on the side of caution when dealing with youth offenders. Sometimes (the present case) it can seem obscene, but I fear that in a case where the facts are reversed, and a youth offender is mistreated and perhaps killed in a prison van, the outcry would be (was) reversed. Different situations, different crimes, but it is difficult, if not impossible to work out the treatment of an offender before an actual guilty plea, or conviction. Regardless of indications by solicitors, there remains a presumption of innocence until the matter is finally determined.
My second comment is that I get a bit antsy about victims rights. This case is difficult due to the indication that a guilty plea will follow. Regardless, you are not the victim of the defendant, until the defendant pleads, or is proved guilty. A victim must be treated with respect and dignity, but should not have any recourse against the defendant until that person is proved guilty. There is a reason, that we as a society do not allow victims to dispense justice. The gravity of a crime and the punishment is determined objectively by an impartial body. The short point is that a victim is a victim, but not necessarily the victim of the defendant until the defendant is proved guilty. The only body that can determine that guilt is the Court, not the media, not society and not the victim.
In the present case the kid is 16. He may have committed a seriously disgusting crime, but has not yet pled guilty or been convicted. Perhaps he is entitled to be put at ease in the Court, not because HE is entitled to it, but because all young offenders are entitled to it. The Judge is not in a position to determine treatment of the defendant until the judge has determined guilt.
Well hs one of us is a moron. I’ll leave that to others to judge. Firstly the person before the court is a defendant and not an offender until convicted. Justice is a matter best dealt with by the judiciary and the courts. A defendant has a right to defend themselves and where this turns out to be serving nonsense, it can be seen for what it is. The point surly is that when emotion is brought in to these kind of decisions then objectivity goes out of the window.
“Honestly Ross. Are you seriously suggesting that the little girl’s parents shouldn’t have commented because they only “read” the judge’s comments?”
No, I am not suggesting that. My understanding is that the parents were in court and had heard the comments. The possibility is that the media sought out the parents and asked for their comments (or did the parents seek out the media? I doubt it). As lawyers have commented, the judge’s comment is commonplace in the Youth Court. That being the case, don’t you find it a little surprising that criticism of such a comment isn’t commonplace?
BE: “That being the case, don’t you find it a little surprising that criticism of such a comment isn’t commonplace?” That would depend on the context or background in which the comment were made, in this case the brutal rape of a five-year-old.
In 2009, Chief Justice Elias gave a good speech about the criminal justice system. She suggested that courtrooms now were “very angry places”. She also suggested that victims’ rights seemed to predominate. The system was at risk of losing its way and becoming in thrall to victims and to groups like the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Criticism of Judge Monroe’s comment seems consistent with this relatively recent approach.
BE: “Criticism of Judge Monroe’s comment seems consistent with this relatively recent approach.” You were OK up to here, Ross. This was not a case of the victims venting their anger in court. (Impossible in any event in the case of a five-year-old who was the principal victim in this case.) This debate arose from a quite restrained complaint by the child’s parents about the insensitivity of the judge’s comment.
Bidrom – ” The point surly is that when emotion is brought in to these kind of decisions then objectivity goes out of the window”
I disagree – this is not an clinical engineering project, sexual assault is a very emotive issue and so it should be. In my experience its a very important thing for the accused to witness the level of emotional distress his actions caused other people. Its the first stage in someone learning empathy and a pointer to true remorse.
Yes there needs to be an objective fact finding process within the justice process but it also should include the human emotional toil and consequences. Bringing emotion in does not throw objectivity out of the window – it just parks it on the window sill for a while.
“I don’t blame the defendant’s parents for doing everything in their power on behalf of their son. If he were my son, I would have done exactly the same thing, though without the prayer. That is what unconditional love for one’s children is all about. And they are to be applauded. They have behaved responsibly and well.”
You’re too kind. It’s one thing to step up when finally forced to, but I’ll bet that an investigation of this family’s history BEFORE the event will reveal a different parenting indeed. An “aberration” this big is no aberration.
As for the judge’s comment, the whole fuss has been media-manufactured; they protesteth too much. Everyone knows that our courts are more sympathetic to offenders than victims, and for the media to pretend otherwise is disigenuous.
Redbaiter – well done I took the bait
“if liberals stopped chipping away at the moral fibre of our society, crime and therefore incarceration would be far less”
What on earth do you mean by “moral fibre” ?
As I read history the moral compass of a country is formed by liberals, socialists, conservatives and churches collectively.
“As I read history the moral compass of a country is formed by liberals, socialists, conservatives and churches collectively.”
Depends how far any particular group manages to infiltrate government.
Good that you asked that question Richard, because the answer also doubles as a response to Mr. Edward’s latest claims.
Singapore is relatively crime free compared to NZ and has about half or less our incarceration rate.
I suggest the main reason is that Lee Kwan Yew had the foresight to see the social destruction that Progressives and Liberals brought with them when the were permitted to dominate a society, and therefore had the good sense to keep them out of Singapore.
Without liberals, one has a much more ethical and responsible society, and naturally there is less need to lock people up.
The answer to reducing NZ’s incarceration rate is to stop listening to liberals. Not only in matters of crime and justice, but in all and every matter.
BE: Redbaiter, I’m inclined to think that the very best way to discredit your arguments is simply to publish them.
Perhaps Redbaiter might be happier living in Singapore.
I can see a shitload of Maori prayers being read out in the court room. I truly can, now that the family of the crims have got the judges sussed-out. I can also see the sallies’ op shops doing a brisk trade in white shirts, ties and black trou, too.
Judges like to see the crims taking the trouble to get all gussied-up, when they appear before them in the dock; it panders to their imperious vanity.
No two words in the English language when used in conjunction, are more widely abused and debased than: “Your Honour”.
“This was not a case of the victims venting their anger in court.”
I am aware of that – indeed I didn’t suggest the parents vented their anger in court. If you read the Chief Justice’s comments on the criminal justice system, you’ll get a better understanding of the issues.
pjr said: “Perhaps Redbaiter might be happier living in Singapore.”
Indeed he might, pjr, but that doesn’t invalidate his right to criticise his own society. I note that none of our perennial Left-wing protesters (you know the names) have taken themselves off to live elsewhere (again, you know the places…), have they.
Here’s a question for you: Why don’t Muslims migrate to MUSLIM countries? They pass through enough of them on their way to the West.
With a nom de plume like redbaiter I couldnt resist
Brian says: “We already put more people in prison per head of population than any other nation other than America. And more than half of them are Maori. So we’re building more prisons!”
Brian, I personally know the perpetrator of many henious sexual crimes against his 12 year old step-daughter and her 3 younger siblings, and not in a single frenzied attack, but sustained over a period of 5 years. But this turd only got 7 years and was out at 4.
That we have more people in the slammer than anyone except the US is NOT a measure of the success of the judiciary. And that more than half of them are Maori merely indicated which ethnic group is committing more than half the crimes.
BE: Well, you could make the punishment for this sort of crime 50 years in prison without parole. But it wouldn’t deter this sort of man who, as I said, doesn’t dwell on the consequences of his actions and doesn’t expect to be caught. The financial cost of keeping him there would also be immense, though this isn’t my primary consideration.
I’d be interested to know how this fellow got away with this for so long. Lots of people will have known or suspected but not spoken up.
The people who are deterred by the prospect of punishment from committing crimes are law-abiding people like you and me. We don’t speed or drink-drive because we don’t want a ticket or our name in the paper. The boy-racer doesn’t think like that.
Criminals are generally not very good at thinking. At least not forward thinking. They don’t consider consequences.
My own view is that offenders should remain in prison as long as they continue to be a threat to society or to their families. Not really much point in keeping them there after that.
And not much point either if we put very little effort into rehabilitation and most effort into punishment.
As for Maori offending, you’re quite correct. Maori are hugely over-represented. Are they born with ‘bad blood’ or are there other reasons? That is the question.
January 16th, 2012 at 20:29
hear hear, Wei. I heard some woman on ZB a couple of nights back speaking with Susan Wood and while she agreed it was a terrible crime her main focus seemed to be “…but what on earth must have gone wrong with this poor boy’s upbringing that he thinks it’s ok to do this sort of thing?” She then went on to point out no matter how long you send him to prison for – 10, 20, 30 years he’ll still come out of it one damaged soul.
Fine, I thought – then let’s just chuck away the key. Sometimes I can’t help but see the lateral view and I ask myself “how can we claim to live in a civilised society when we let people like this stay alive? Surely, civilisation demands that we rid ourselves of such trash?”
If any of you liberals out there would argue that such a person can be rehabilitated, your opinion is invalid until you offer to let this bastard babysit your children or grandchildren.
The lock and key brigade is out in force I see.
Johnny X over there is a crim. How do I know? The Herald, my mate, my blog, a police officer told me. Why are they treating him like an innocent person? Those liberal blowhard losers.
Nobody (regardless of what you ‘know’) is guilty until they have plead guilty or been found guilty.
@Zinc – Not that this excuses the conduct, but do you think that a 15 year old who rapes a 5 year old is in anyway normal? Something went wrong and it would be nice to know what.
I was more concerned that the judge allowed the reading of a prayer in court. Our courts can only be fair if they are secular. A claim to be respecting God should carry no weight – it is only evidence that should carry weight.
Many readers may recall the procession of men in the seventies and eighties who were arrested for assaulting their wives after police got the message that a ‘domestic’ was a criminal and not a private matter. Their lawyers often had the gall to claim that their client, “had found God and had the support of his church-going family.” Pious nonsense aimed at the judge.
The reading of a statement of one’s religious belief has no place in court. The tricky thing about so many religious beliefs is that they can justify so many things which we have moved on from.
If any reader wants to blame the ‘anti-smacking’ legislation for a decline in standards, I’d wager that many of the prison population, and most of the Maori prisoners, would have been the recipients of corporal punishment at home. Does anyone have any stats on this statement?
@BE: exactly. Are criminals born bad, or just made bad? No one can agree on the answer.
@Redbaiter: On the other hand, Singapore isn’t exactly a democracy either. If you really want to, you could fly to Norway, break Anders Breivik out of jail and set him loose in NZ.
@Zinc: Why stop at sweeping the trash off the streets, when you can incinerate it instead?
In any case, what’s the point of it all if the cure’s worse than the disease?
BE: I’m not aware of any research that proposes the existence of a crime gene. The influence of environmental factors in early life is, however, well established. I racall taking part in a Telethon many years ago to raise funds for abused kids. Then, as now, everyone was hugely sympathetic to the plight of these children. Ten years later they were calling for the scalps of many of the same kids. The abused kids of today are very often teh abusers of tomorrow. We just fail to make the connections.
And have a look at this story in today’s Herald about the long-term effects of poverty on a whole range of social indicators, including crime. Connections again.
I see the word ‘liberal’derided by sevveral contributors. It proabably suggests tolerance of anti-social behaviour. That’s not my position at all. But I don’t see any value in the ‘chuck ‘em in jail and throw away the key’ or ‘string ‘em up’ arguments either. We won’t stop crime by behaving like barbarians ourselves.
The Maori crime statistics are instructive. But they are essentially the same statistics that you find among almost all colonised peoples – Aboriginees, Native Americans, Blacks in the US… Poverty, discrimination, loss of culture and language, unemployment, educational underachievement, large families – these are just some of the factors that encourage and breed criminal activity.
The lynch mob is alive and well. I find myself wondering who tthe criminal is here since the judge’s remarks appear to attract as much outrage as the act itself. I imagine the judge is rther bemused about why such an innocuous comment should attract such outrage. Telling the guy he was well dressed did not amount to an endorsement of his actions.
I suppose I will be castigated as some weird pinko liberal, but I would like to wait until a few more facts emerge before joinging the ‘hang ‘em high brigade’.
The crime was appalling; I am not disputing that. I would like to know why. How does someone grow up to commit an act such as this? If we understand why, perhaps we can do something to prevent a recurence, because lt’s face it, such a despicable act is likely to happen in some form or the other in the future. All these high profile crimes attract a lot of indignation but not much in the way of constructive discussion and thought, which is probably why nothing ever changes.
Since throwing away the key is not an option, I would also like to know why, so perhaps there may be a chance (however small) that this guy does not come out of prison in a few years and attack another child.
Finally I note that whilst a teenage girl who beats a defenceless old man to death with his own stick is a victim of judicial barbarism according to you because of a minimum 16 year non-parole period, this youth is beyond the pale.
Your liberalism evidently has limits.
BE: I’d like to know who the ‘you’ is in this comment, since I’m not aware of havinig made any of these arguments.
BE: “I’d be interested to know how this fellow got away with this for so long. Lots of people will have known or suspected but not spoken up.”
Brian, just look at the Kahui case.
So liberalism rots the moral fibre and the consequence is crime. So why are the Dutch closing their jails then?
BE: Very good question and an illustration of the fact that the countries with the most draconian punishments for offending are also the countries with the worst records of offending.
Zinc – ” how can we claim to live in a civilised society when we let people like this stay alive? Surely, civilisation demands that we rid ourselves of such trash?”
For me the very definition of a civilized society is we do not think of anyone as “trash” that needs to be gotten rid of.
Yes we should protect ourselves from those so sick they would harm us and I think we should aspire to understand what got them to offend in the first place.
“If any of you liberals out there would argue that such a person can be rehabilitated, your opinion is invalid until you offer to let this bastard babysit your children or grandchildren.”
Well Zinc, in my experience it is possible – I once worked with a young man who cut his grandmothers throat – he had done 12 years in prison and the mental health system. He had, through the mental health system ( Mason Unit), done a huge amount of psychological work. The work I was doing was one of many finishing touches to help integrate him back in the world.
I got to know him very well over an intensive 8 weeks and would have gladly let him baby sit my children.
The tragedy is our prison system does very little to truly rehabilitate people whereas the mental health system has more success. I’d go further to say our prisons actually create hard core crims – they are a training school for criminals the perfect place to build crim networks, learn from others and plan the next big job. Then there is the dehumanizing process of prisons.
With a very few exceptions we don’t lock em up and throw away the key, they will be out again. The question for me is what shape will they be in when they get out?
@Richard Aston: dehumanising words like “trash”, “scum”, and “parasites” have been historically proven to be the first step towards much nastier stuff. Like pogroms and genocide.
Allport Scale #1 & 2, possible #3 as well.
Stanton’s Stages of Genocide #1 & #3
Also, Texas has executed more inmates than all the other 49 US states combined, but that hasn’t deterred its crims one iota. It goes to show that modern law & order is less about keeping the streets safe, and more about culture war pig farming. It’s the same in every other English-speaking nation.
Richard Aston says “Yes we should protect ourselves from those so sick they would harm us and I think we should aspire to understand what got them to offend in the first place.” and I agree with that sentiment.
Yes, let’s aspire to understand how they got there – it may have been environmental, peer pressure or maybe the “poor’ soul’s just been born deranged – all his CDs playing at once and the player’s stuck on random. You have to accept that a tiny proportion of our community are loose cannons from whom there can never be protection.
A child has been unforgiveably damaged forever and so have her family. You may fret over the lost cause who did it and wonder why, and think you can help him become like the rest of us, but I see a wayward, violent criminal who has no respect for any of us and no place in our civilised nation. We must concern ourselves with the victim; particularly in sexual assaults on children, the damage is instant and permanent – they can eventually mask their pain over time (and that could be decades), but it’s always going to be there.
Yes, I hope we can use this tragedy to head a few off at the pass, but you can’t fix EVERY case, Richard – sometimes a write-off’s the only viable answer. I’m keen to see that being removed from society until frailty sets in, in the hope that he damages no-one else.
“the countries with the most draconian punishments for offending are also the countries with the worst records of offending. ”
This is very interesting Brian , very interesting.
I won’t ask you to qualify it because it makes intuitive sense to me.
I wonder if part of it is the very nature of prisons, they are the best places to create criminals to be sure. Makes sense then, the more people we put in prison the more we get coming out worse than when they went in and on a path to career offending. Is it a self replication system, to some extent?
Another angle I have read research papers on is the effect on prisoner’s families and friends and how that contributes to creating more prisoners – via the normalisation process.
More on that later maybe
@ Cousin Brown
“I was more concerned that the judge allowed the reading of a prayer in court. Our courts can only be fair if they are secular. A claim to be respecting God should carry no weight – it is only evidence that should carry weight”.
Ah, the religion of secularism rears it’s head!
No, our courts and country are not secular – they are non-sectarian. That is different. This is demonstrated by the option witnesses have in court to either swear an oath on the “holy” book of their choice, or affirm.
Expressions of religious faith can be used to create a favourable impression to either evade a guilty verdict, or minimise a sentence. However, so too can other acts of apparent remorse – joining AA, making an apology to your victims, etc.
No matter what form remorse takes (and at some point courts do seek it when considering the mindset of the defendant/guilty), it is up to judges and juries to make an assessment on what they see, or choose to ignore it. People, even defendants, can have spiritual and ethical beliefs, and you can’t and shouldn’t stop them mentioning it as means of determining their credibility.
But just because you have a religious background, doesn’t mean you a. didn’t do it, or b., are unlikely to offend again if given the opportunity. If you don’t trust judges and/or juries to determine basic facts like those, then you have no basis for any faith in our current justice system.
“I’d like to know who the ‘you’ is in this comment, since I’m not aware of having made any of these arguments.”
You have evidently forgotten in a piece last year, I think, castigating the judiciary for its treatment of a teenager in Hawkes Bay) who bashed an elderly man to death with his own walking stick (search your archives).
Unlike you I am still not sure why the judges remarks showed such lack of understanding and empathy. However since I appear to be the only person in New Zealand who is not outraged by the judge’s comments I suppose that I must lack empathy and understanting.
My remark concerning the lynch mob were aimed at many of the contributors rather than you, but I still feel your reaction is at odds to your earlier liberality.
BE: You worry me, Ben. You know and can remember more about what I’ve written than I do. You need to get out more. However, your 25-word summary of that post – “castigating the judiciary for its treatment of a teenager in Hawkes Bay) who bashed an elderly man to death with his own walking stick” – doesn’t do justice to or accurately reflect the content or tenor of this lengthy post in which I came to the conclusion that both the crime and the sentencing were ‘brutal’.
To refresh your and other readers’ memory: The beating was carried out by two Maori girls. One was 16, one 14. The judge referred to their home backgrounds:
“You are victims of the failure of your own families to provide any sort of direction, support or encouragement to learn any sort of values. They failed you in the most basic of ways.”
This expression of sympathetic understanding did not deter him from sentencing them both to 17 years in prison. I called that sentence ‘brutal’. It was.
This is how I concluded the piece:
“There is, of course, a dilemma here. Though punishment rarely deters other than already law-abiding citizens, crime cannot go unpunished. Churchward and Te Wini had to be punished. But punishment need not involve the total destruction of the perpetrator. Does Justice Venning really believe that these girls needed 17 years to learn their lesson? Might they not have learned it in 15, or 10, or 5? Might they not have learned it on the day of their arrest or as they stood in the dock listening to His Honour’s homily, that starring moment, so loved of judges, the media and us, their audience? I think they might.
“I don’t know what sentence would have been appropriate for these young killers. But its aim should have been twofold – to satisfy society’s need to punish wrongdoing and to save something from the wreckage of their lives. By his 17 year sentence Justice Venning satisfied the first but rendered the second impossible.”
If you want to criticise me for something I’ve written or said, take your own advice to me and go back and ‘search the archives’ so that you’ve a) got your facts right (not one teenager but two) and b) don’t misrepresent a very thoughful and balanced piece of writing as some sort of red-neck attack on the judiciary.
So that people can make up their own minds, here’s the link: http://brianedwardsmedia.co.nz/2009/12/meeting-brutality-with-brutality/
It was never appropriate for the judge to make a favourable — or an unfavourable — comment on the offender’s appearance. Nor, was it a good idea to allow the reading of the prayer, because it undermines normal court room protocols.
This was a particularly repugnant crime; one where a 5-year-old child has been brutally violated and robbed of her innocence for all time.
The judge, by making a compliment as to the defendant’s appearance, lightens the tenor in the court room re the gravity of the charges. Almost, like: “And the authorities are treating you, well; and enjoying the food, are you?”. It was grossly insensitive to the victim’s family, and ill thought out.
The offender is to be sentenced as an adult in the District Court; thus, allaying real misgivings that Judge Jocelyn Munro might be inclined to leave a bus ticket out on her lawn, the night preceding the day of sentencing.
I’d be interested to know what your thoughts might be, with regard to the type of sentence that befits this crime. Knowing that you showed an inordinate — and undeserved — amount of sympathy towards those two Maori girls in Opotiki; who, I believe, have received a sentence reduction by way of appeal.
“So why are the Dutch closing their jails then?”
Don’t believe anything you read in the mainstream media. Its dominated by delusional liberals like Brian, who can never get anything even half right.
Here is the truth-
The Netherlands may be closing eight prisons, but not because of any lack of criminals, says researcher Ben Vollaard. There are plenty of criminals; they just don’t end up in prison as much.
BE: I think I’ve had enough of you now, Redbaiter. Consider youself the victim of your chosen nom de plume. I can’t see any good reason why I should indulge you further in abusing me on my own site. But please feel free to make love elsewhere.
“I won’t ask you to qualify it because it makes intuitive sense to me.”
“Intuitive sense” ?????
Pffft… a complete contradiction in terms anyway, even if it was right.
“the countries with the most draconian punishments for offending are also the countries with the worst records of offending. ”
One word proves that claim completely and utterly wrong.
How could you write something so patently incorrect after I had just reminded you of that example?
You would no doubt rush to categorise Singapore as “draconian”, yet crime there is far less than in liberal Holland.
Ain’t reality a bitch when you’re a delusional liberal?
BE: I’m pretty familiar with Singapore actually. I’ve been there quite a few times. Even been a guest of their Tourist Board. It’s extremely clean and everyone smiles a lot. But try to get your host to discuss anything about politics, the regime, their living conditions or even their ambitions and you come up against a complete brick wall. Curious that.
“I don’t know what sentence would have been appropriate for these young killers. But its aim should have been twofold – to satisfy society’s need to punish wrongdoing and to save something from the wreckage of their lives.”
Brian, I’m perpetually baffled by the liberal thinking that somehow society owes something to the perpetrators of these most vile crimes. These people KNOW they’re doing something terribly wrong – the hoodies, the shades, the balaclavas, the running and hiding are not signs of someone who doesn’t know right from wrong. Yet above all this the liberal view is that the poor souls didn’t have such a great start to life, so it’s really not their fault.
That, Sir, is bollocks. My father was a child molester and a pervert. We were poor. I could’ve joined the club, but I didn’t. I’m totally sickened by these sub-humans. That Turangi paedophile KNEW he was doing wrong or he would’ve tried to evade the police. So why are we even DREAMING of a better life for him? Where’s the real victim here – doesn’t someone care about her anymore?
If we can’t stretch his neck, lock him up and drop the key down the nearest drain. The babysitter rule applies.
BE: Have you actually read anything I’ve written? Can you find anywhere where I’ve said ‘it’s really not their fault’? Can you find anywhere where I’ve defended or sympathised with this young man’s actions? I congratulate you on having survived the sexual abuse in your family. Many don’t. Now how about looking at your anger.
I was not representing your piece as a “red neck attack on the judiicary”. That’s your interpretation.
I was merely drawing attention to what I believed to be a contradiction in your attitude to the judiciary in both cases. I still believe there is a contradiction. I still believe the general reaction to the judge’s remarks was hysterical driven by an emotional abhorrence of the crime rather than any considered thought.
I might also add that by joining the debate you have attracted the red necks whose views you normally deplore. It must feel strange to find yourself in bed with Redbaiter.
BE: Tiresome, Ben.
“Nor, was it a good idea to allow the reading of the prayer, because it undermines normal court room protocols.”
What are normal courtroom protocols? The family of the victim will have every opportunity to demonise and vilify the offender in court if they choose to do so. I am not sure that is helpful.
I note that in today’s Herald Online, the offender has been described as a “nice guy” by a friend. That will no doubt generate hatred towards the reporter and the Herald.
@ ross. The courtroom is not the place to engage in an impromptu show of religious rites; expecting everyone there to STFU, while self-serving whispered monotonic incantations are indulged.
The judge is there as an adjudicator, and controls the pacing of the court’s procedings. It’s not for members of the defendant’s family — or anybody else — to usurp the role of the judge, interrupting the flow of business.
Your so-called “demonise and vilify the offender” is actually couched in the term: ‘Victim Impact Statement’. That’s a recognised and accepted part of the judicial process, which is read out prior to sentencing.
@ Ben: I don’t see any anomaly — or ambiguity — with Brian’s piece on the two Maori girls and the 16-year-old rapist. The reasonings are quite different and not related, tangentially or otherwise. I’m surprised, that you’re trying to portray a parallel where none exists. You do need to re-read both, carefully.
Crime spoken of as absolute with statistics and evidence overlooks the fact that alot of crime goes undetected and unpunished.
Continued….Singapore or even the Netherlands may not be true representations of what is actually happening.I have seen a victim of a crime of theft and threatening behaviour ,being told by the Police that as they had retrieved the phone it was not theft and the threatening behaviour was hard to prove.Although I am not in favour of zero tolerance the Police need to address all reported crime.
I agree with Cousin Brown. A court hearing should not be turned into a public prayer meeting. If people want to say prayers and karakia, they are perfectly free to do so before they enter the court room.
Zinc/s : 17Jan – BE comment on “so long”
The reason why this sack of refuse – and others have “got away with it so long” is mirrored by
and all the other similar instances contributing to a feral and sick society…
48 charges including 5 of rape and 18 firearms charges ??? – and this scum is presently on bail ?
Spare me !! .. and here’s a quote I have appreciated – “The criminal justice system is not, and was never intended to be, the attempted preventative welfare-style organisation that it has come to resemble today. What the criminal justice system does is carry the collective stick of society and with it the responsibility for keeping law-abiding citizens safe from criminals; and in that seemingly straight-forward task, it is failing.”
Today’s “nice guy” comment about this turd simply turns my stomach. As mentioned, there are exceptions whereby society needs to be rid of these stains on humanity.
BE: I’m afraid calling people ‘sacks of refuse’ ‘scum’ and ‘turds’ doesn’t do much to advance the argument. And, given our extraordinarily high and ever expanding prison population, it would seem that our criminal Justice system is working overtime. But clearly that system and philosophy, as you yourself seem to agree, isn’t working. Then there’s the problem of 51% of the prison population being Maori. Are they all sacks of refuse, scum and turds? Or is there a better explanation?
Judge Phillipa Cunningham’s comments about the comedian who got name suppression for molesting his daughter, and her decision on the matter, are more concerning in my humble opinion. Glad to see that people took constructive action and the decision is being reviewed apparently. The victims were the same age, although the circumstances are not comparable.
Thank goodness for people who speak out though, because five year olds are not very articulate at the best of times, more so after a trauma like this I would think, in this case it’s resulted in a judicial review of the disturbing decision.
“In making her decision to discharge, judge Cunningham said the man made people laugh.
“He’s a talented New Zealander. He makes people laugh, and laughter’s an incredible medicine that we all need a lot of,” she said.
Judge Cunningham said that despite suppression orders it was widely known in his industry who he was and that had taken a toll on his career.
“He must have significant strength of character to deal with all of that.”
yeah, there is a better explanation b.e. they are not all scum. they are like skittles in a bowling alley, whacked down by their experience and they are affirmed as unworthy by a disapproving crowd.
so what do do. include them in a solution. co-construct a future with them. focus on success stories. sure- we will jail them cos we have to, in tandem, but there are ways forward. press play.
“Then there’s the problem of 51% of the prison population being Maori. Are they all sacks of refuse, scum and turds? Or is there a better explanation?”
Brian – is it only 51%?
Based on no empirical evidence whatsoever, I’d say the average Maori prisoner is a victim of his own parents. Fix that, and racial harmony (and the Maori quality of life) in New Zealand will quickly advance to where it was in the 1960s.
BE: Have you actually read anything I’ve written?
I’ve read everything you’ve written. I wasn’t suggesting you’d promoted some lack of guilt on the part of the offender – I was simply attempting to discuss the liberal ideal with you.
I apologise for the misleading “That, Sir” opener which I now see can be easily misconstued: it was aimed at those contributors here who seem to think psychopaths can be hugged better.
BE: “BE: I’m pretty familiar with Singapore actually. I’ve been there quite a few times. Even been a guest of their Tourist Board. It’s extremely clean and everyone smiles a lot. But try to get your host to discuss anything about politics, the regime, their living conditions or even their ambitions and you come up against a complete brick wall. Curious that.”
William Gibson called it “Disneyland with the death penalty“.
BE, You have obviously missed the point entirely. If you had read or interpreted by post correctly – both statements (apologies – facts) were preceded by the word “this”. i.e singular, syn: specific. – However if your choice is to rampantly stampede to a conclusion and become blatantly transparent – your call. I cant see the word Maori anywhere. nevertheless – touched a nerve have I ?
the blame game and deficit thinking will not improve things. it is a challenge but how can we as a collective move forward to something better. instead of abuse and bear baiting we need a cool head approach – and i’m talking about prevention not cure – where, as i said earlier, the sections of nz at highest risk of offending are part of a solution. put collective heads around that for proactive response – looking ahead for something better.
have a look at you tube documentary clip “BBC – The Choir- Boys Don’t Sind- Urban Sounds & Sense of Sound”.
about hope achieved, a sense of belonging, pride, enthusiasm, gratitude – all things murderers don’t usually have on their minds.
and created through negotiated involvement and the use of outstanding role modeling.
i’d put up the link but limited skill there and got to get to work.
I have a great deal of trouble believing that our prison population comprise of only 51% Maori, when you read that every single recently-reported crime involving: brutal unprovoked assaults, rapes, fortnightly toddler-killings, armed bank robberies, random sexual attacks in parks, violent confrontations between supermarket security staff and alleged-shoplifters; a pregnant woman, attacked by being kicked, a man setting his attack dog on people, reckless high-speed driving resulting in death.
Believe me, it just goes on and on and on.
And their feral criminality isn’t confined within the exclusive preserve of the street: the Queensland Health Board has, at last tally, over AUD 16m filched from their tills, by a very resourceful and cunning…..
And for a bit of welcoming light relief from all this stomach-churning offending: what was the name of the television station, whose female publicist called a TV3 reporter a, “douche”? Charming banter, she’d call it.
Zinc ” it was aimed at those contributors here who seem to think psychopaths can be hugged better.”
I’m trying ignore this sort of opinionated bollocks but I can’t – its just bloody offensive to those of us working hard to try and change social outcomes.
Its lazy thinking , well it barely qualifies as thinking really, its recyled knee jerk reactions.
It is very easy to sit on the sidelines making clever comments hidden behind “I’m just trying to debate” but it makes no contribution to the real debate and it definitely doesn’t change anything.
I have tried hard to read your comments with an open mind in the optimistic view that you could have something worthwhile to say, you don’t and from now on I won’t waste my time reading.
“Mr Edwards is just the kind of namby pamby liberal that is responsible for the ineffectiveness of our Justice system.
By constantly voting for soft on crime far left governments he has helped ensure that NZ has a crime rate”
And yet, since 1984 we’ve had six years of right wing Rogernomics Labour; followed by nine years of Bolger/Shipley-led National, plus another three-plus years of John Key led National: 18 years of right wing government as opposed to nine years of Clark-led Labour.
And still the prison population rises?
Maybe you are spouting rubbish and simply haven’t realised it yet?
Back on topic, about the Judge’s comments…
I guess the way I see it is that, being a member of the Human species, we all say/do dumb things that – a little later – we do the proverbial facepalm, and wish we could alter time, a-la Timelord.
No can do. What is writ, is done…
I’m wondering if Judge Jocelyn Munro later thought, “Bugger, that wasn’t one of my more clever moments.”
The Sunday Star Times is reporting that this rape and assault was probably part of a gang initiation; that the boy’s father is a known gang member; and that the family has “gang connections”. They can’t name the gang because of a suppression order.
Will “the gang made me do it” be considered a mitigating factor during sentencing? After all, he is such a smartly dressed young man.
BE: If this was an initiation test, it makes the offence even worse, if that is possible, since it suggests not merely premeditation but time to consider one’s actions. It also puts the young man’s prayer to God into perspective. One should stress, however, that the gang connections is as yet unsubstantiated.
Having found my comments dismissed (also branded a journo hater???) above can I ask you Brian, when it comes to the rightful “balance” you talk of between the rights of the society for knowledge and the rights of the accused for a fair trial, just where does that balance actually lie and who holds the responsibility for its observance? I say this balance in this case was affected by what I see as un-needed emotive commentary and that’s “unbalanced” reporting in my view. That is what I was taking about in my original post actually. Because media commentary can very easily inflame witch hunts nowadays and of course witch hunts, are “rule of the mob”, surely the onus of responsibility re a “proper balance” media lies with the media, not with the judges.
BE: I’m not sure who branded you a ‘journo hater”. I hope it wasn’t me. When a young man rapes a five-year-old girl and the unvarnished fact is published, there is, it seems to me, very little need for the media to ‘inflame’. The response of most reasonable people will be one of anger and disgust, as it properly should be.
“One should stress, however, that the gang connections is as yet unsubstantiated”.
Umm. I’m confused. i know that, with good reason as a result of the Mandy Hotchin/Jonathan Marshall encounter that played out on this blog site about a year ago, the SST has had some credibility issues.
However, my understanding of “reading between the lines” is that when a newspaper publishes a story on a serious issue, as opposed to tabloid gossip, with phrases like, “the Sunday Star-Times has been told…”, “the Star-Times understands…”, “the claims were made by several sources close to the investigation” (which I take to mean the police), “another source said…” (which I take to mean the SST has verified the tip-off by means of another source), and “the Star-Times has been shown a photo that shows him posing, shirtless, with a gang nickname and an anti-police slogan clearly visible”
…then it is a substantiated fact. Or at least the SST is inviting us to trust them that it is.
Also, there is the verifiable and corroborating action of the court, “Because of the suppression orders around the case, the gang cannot be named”.
Just to educate me (and excuse my ignorance and obvious stupidity): what is the next step to “substantiate”?
There isn’t going to be a trial. Will and must any gang connections necessarily come up and be mentioned during sentencing?
If not, how and when can it be further “substantiated”?
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the judge that the rapist’s dress sense was advised by his lawyer.
‘Brutal’ – the word barely does the sentence justice.
if you truly believe that to be true Brian, then what do you make of Schappell Corby’s sentence (20 years)? I suspect the conditions (and opportunities) these 2 girls will experience in a New Zealand prison are going to be light years ahead of what’s on offer in Indonesian jails. And speaking of what is brutal. How about the family and friends of Mr Rowe? It’s pretty brutal that they will have to live the rest of their lives with the knowledge that their loved ones life expired in the manner that it did. Perhaps in time they will get over that, or perhaps they will not. 17 years might seem like a long time, but it’s not really. A cat will live longer. When those girls get out (if they indeed serve the full sentence) they’ll be in their early thirties. Plenty of life a head of them. Sure, they may have missed out on some of life, hanging out with friends, a few parties and so on. Perhaps the stability of life in prison will make them better people upon release. There are many people in the world for which every day life is far more brutal than what these girls can expect. Your outrage is misplaced, Brian.