Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'The Courts'

Ewen Macdonald, the UMR Research poll on his guilt and a ‘triple jeopardy’ scenario.







Five days ago UMR Research published the results of a poll of 750 New Zealanders 18 years and older. Their  news release was headed ‘WHAT NEW ZEALANDERS THINK OF THE SCOTT GUY MURDER TRIAL’  and began:

 ‘Just 20% of New Zealanders believe Ewen Macdonald did not murder Scott Guy, according to a UMR Research poll released today.

‘UMR’s fortnightly Omnibus Survey shows 48% of people believe Ewen Macdonald is guilty, 20% say he is not guilty, and 28% said they were unsure. 4% of respondents refused to answer the question.’

UMR came in for some fairly sustained flak from letter-writers to the papers and bloggers for conducting the poll at all. At first I tended to share their disapproval. Macdonald had only recently been tried by a jury of his peers for the murder of Scott Guy and that jury had unanimously declared him not guilty. The UMR poll effectively constituted a re-trial of Macdonald for the same crime with the same evidence, but with a much larger, though considerably less well-informed, jury. That jury, it seemed, had found him guilty. Double jeopardy!

I was about to get stuck into UMR for this gratuitous breach of natural justice, when I suddenly remembered that, in a discussion of the trial and its outcome on TV3’s The Nation some days earlier, I had confidently declared that although Macdonald had been found not guilty by a jury of his peers, he had been found guilty ‘in the court of public opinion’.  The UMR poll had done nothing more than test that hypothesis by seeking the opinion of 750 adult New Zealanders and found it to be correct.   Read the rest of this entry »


I offer some friendly but unsolicited advice to Kim Dotcom

Dear Kim Dotcom

I’m a fan. Like most fans, my admiration for you isn’t entirely rational. I don’t actually know whether you’re guilty of the Internet crimes the American Government accuses you of. You could be as guilty as sin for all I know.  And your slate isn’t entirely clean. You’ve been convicted of computer fraud and embezzlement. But you’ve paid the price for those crimes and you’ve started a new life here in New Zealand.

When people ask me about the qualities that make up the average Kiwi, I tend to put ‘fair-minded’ at the top of the list. We abhor injustice. So we didn’t like it when, having filed indictments against you and six others on criminal copyright infringement charges,  the FBI started pushing us around and demanding your extradition to the States to face the (pirated?) music. As a small  nation, we’re particularly sensitive to bullying.

And we liked it even less when our very own Keystone Cops, energised by the successful outcome of their Rambo exercises in the Ureweras, decided on an armed-to-the-teeth assault on you and your family’s home in Coatsville.

We weren’t too impressed either by your arrest, denial of bail, imprisonment for a month or the seizure by the Crown of almost everything you own. We’re addicted to that pesky legal principle that people are innocent till proven guilty. We hadn’t seen any real evidence of your guilt or indeed been acquainted with the specifics of the charges against you.  And we still haven’t.   Read the rest of this entry »


Smart Looking Rapist – I find myself for once agreeing with Garth McVicar

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.    Read the rest of this entry »


One law for top sportsmen, another for an ordinary mum. The injustice of it makes my blood boil!

There are only two stories on the front page of this morning’s Herald. One, headed Secrecy over ex-All Black’s child assault, occupies the left hand side of the page. The other, headed Attacked girl’s mum faces court, occupies the right hand side.

To be strictly accurate, the right hand story consists  of nine  column inches of text and a 10 x 6 inch photograph of Melissa Anderson, the mother of the attacked girl, appearing in the Waitakere District Court to face a charge of assault. Ms Anderson had slapped one of two girls who had attacked her 13-year-old daughter Summer, leaving her with a black eye, a welt on the side of her face and cuts to her eyelid.

The left hand side story begins:

Name suppression for a former All Black who yesterday pleaded guilty to child assault flies in the face of Parliament’s aims, says a legal expert.

The former rugby star is the latest in a long line of top sportsmen who have appeared in criminal courts and been allowed to keep their identities secret.

The justification for the name suppression is given later in the story:

He was reportedly given name suppression because of his standing in sporting circles and in the community as well as to protect the identity of the complainant.

Another former high-profile All Black appeared in a Wellington court last week and he, too, was given name suppression.

In that case, the 45-year-old was charged with assaulting his partner… resisting police and possession of cannabis.

The Herald goes on to list eight cases since 2002 in which prominent sportsmen were granted name suppression. The cases involved a range of offences from spousal and child assault to rape, abduction and sexual violation.  Read the rest of this entry »


The right decision on Ashish Macwan; The wrong decision on Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkam.

Ashish Macwan, whose son Aarush drowned when the family’s van rolled into a Central Otago lake, has been discharged without conviction. He was not fined and was allowed to keep his licence.

Though the father had pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing death. Judge Charles Blackie found that he had suffered enough.

This morning’s Herald summarised how the tragedy occurred:

“The accident happened at Easter when Macwan was holidaying with his wife Kinnery, son Aarush, and family friends.

“The group stopped at Lake Dunstan near Cromwell for a break. When Macwan, who was driving, got out of the Toyota Hiace to stretch his legs, the vehicle rolled backwards into the lake.

“Macwan reportedly forgot to put on the handbrake and left the van in neutral.

“The adults and an older child escaped, but Aarush, who was strapped into his seat, was unable to be saved.

“A group of people, including Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper, tried to swim down to the van but it was too deep.

“Police charged Macwan the same day.

“Lepper was one of many who questioned the decision to charge Macwan, saying the death of his son was punishment enough.”    Read the rest of this entry »


On the Pleasures and Perils of Celebrity – Reflections on the Martin Devlin Affair

On the whole being famous is pretty good. I was on-and-off famous in New Zealand from 1967 (Town & Around, Gallery) to 1999 (Edwards on Saturday,  Fair Go, Top of the Morning). Mostly it was nice. Being recognised in the street, having people stop and tell you how much they enjoy your programme, getting special service in restaurants and shops, having your photo in all the newspapers and magazines, exercising a degree of influence on your own behalf and on behalf of others, being paid megabu…  

Well no, the money wasn’t great. In 1969-70 when I was the most famous broadcaster in the country, I was earning $7,000 a year for appearing on Gallery and producing and hosting Checkpoint. Things improved marginally on Fair Go, but I probably wasn’t earning a great deal more than the average household income. The ‘star system’ still hadn’t been invented in New Zealand.  

I have no complaints. I wasn’t in it for the money. Like most people in the entertainment industry, I was in it for the applause that comes with fame and serves to bolster the fragile egos of the most confident looking people. Fame is itself fragile and transitory, but at the time it’s really, really nice. (Providing you can handle it of course. But that’s another story.)  

So the pleasures of being famous are considerable and real, and the financial rewards in 2011, even in a small country like New Zealand, substantial.  

Sounds like a pretty good gig.   Read the rest of this entry »