Third strike punishment avoided, law to be scrapped

Not long after he started in the job Justice and Courts Minister Andrew Little indicated that the three strikes law would be scrapped. He has reiterated this after a judge has worked around third strike requirement in a case that would have resulted in an assault of kissing would have meant a compulsory seven year sentence.

Last November: Andrew Little says three strikes law will be repealed

The controversial “three strikes” law will be repealed next year, Justice and Courts Minister Andrew Little says.

Little said the law, which mandates escalating punishments for repeat violent or sexual offenders, had not reduced crime rates and failed to act as an effective deterrent.

“It’s been eight years since this got onto the statute books and it’s not making a blind bit of difference. It’s time to find something new, something different.”

Yesterday: Third strike offender avoids non-parole part of punishment

A mentally ill man who kissed a stranger has joined a select group to earn a third strike under a law that is marked for repeal.

Daniel Clinton Fitzgerald had to be sentenced to the maximum term of seven years’ jail for indecent assault, but at the High Court in Wellington on Thursday Justice Simon France said he would allow Fitzgerald the normal possibility of parole after one-third of the sentence.

Without the judge making the exception Fitzgerald, 45, would have served the full seven years without parole.

The assaults happened on December 3, 2016, and he has been in custody since then, so he should be considered for parole in early 2019.

The Crown did not argue against Fitzgerald having the chance of parole.

Without the three strikes law he would have got a non-custodial sentence, the judge said.

Fitzgerald’s mental health contributed to his propensity to carry out the same type of offence, he said.

Judge’s can void a third strike maximum penalty if they see it as manifestly unjust’.

It is understood two previous offenders have reached the third strike level of a law introduced in 2010. Both received the maximum penalty for the type of offence they had committed, but under the exception for manifest injustice, both escaped serving the terms without the chance of parole.

Raven Casey Campbell, convicted in Hamilton of indecent assault for grabbing a female prison officer’s bottom, was sentenced to seven years’ jail but was eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence.

Kingi Ratima, also in Hamilton, was sentenced to 10 years’ jail for robbery and had the possibility of parole after serving half the term.

A 100% record of not implementing the full weight stipulated by the three strikes law.

In part this is because there has only been time for less serious offences with shorter imprisonments to have qualified for three strikes, but it could suggest a fundamental failure.

That’s how Little sees it.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said on Tuesday that Cabinet had signed off in principle the repeal of the three strikes law, but it would be “some months” before anything went to Parliament about it.

A criminal justice summit was planned for August to talk about problems and possible solutions, with plans being rolled out after that, he said.

He has been told that in the meantime everybody involved was trying to work around the law because it was seen as so insidious and unfair.

Normally judges go to great lengths to come up with appropriate and fair sentences, and they are open to appeal. See this as an example (male assaults female). And this sentencing for murder.

The three strikes law is too strictly prescriptive, and it is unbalanced for those with records preceding the three strikes law compared to those picking up strike warnings.


  1. Blazer

     /  11th May 2018

    another step in the right…direction.Need tougher laws on white collar criminals.
    That could decimate the banking/finance sector

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  11th May 2018

      Don’t be ridiculous. The chances of not being caught ripping off a bank are negligible, and I would guess that that goes for the finance sector. The idea that 90% of people in these two are criminals is ridiculous.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  11th May 2018

        Almost any idea that B has is ridiculous, Kitty.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  11th May 2018

          (eyeroll) I know, but there are times when a reply just slips out. The idea of 90% of that sector being criminals is so daft that I wonder that even Blazer would say it, as Blazer is not a fool, just one-eyed, Even when I worked for banks, Westpac as it is now and ANZ, the chances of getting away with anything for long were very slight.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  11th May 2018

            B is never afraid of appearing a fool, Kitty. Especially about banks. I’m presuming some bank has been unimpressed by his ideas sometime.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  11th May 2018

              Did you say some bank in the singular ?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  11th May 2018

              I guess that depends how many he has tried, Kitty.

  2. Alloytoo

     /  11th May 2018

    It would appear to me that the case they’re using to attack 3 strikes says more about the entire system than a sentencing law.

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  11th May 2018

    There are kisses and kisses. I wouldn’t regard an unwanted kiss on the cheek as an assault, even if I found it abhorrent, but would regard some stranger grabbing and holding me and planting his blubbery lips on mine (and still worse, using his tongue) as one.

  4. Trevors_Elbow

     /  11th May 2018

    When the first nasty piece of work who would have been locked up under the 3 Strikes law, but escaped the 3 strikes sentence, because Mr Little has succeeded in taking the law off the Statute Books…and then does something foul (Murder, Rape, GBH) then Little will be equally culpable in my eyes….

    We have a hard core of thugs in this country and not protecting the populace from them is an abdication of a Governments very purpose – maintaining Law and Order, protecting the citizenry from threats to life and limb.

    This is a very risky political move by Mr Little. It will impact on Labours core constituency and they will remember….
    Crim Huggers are Labour – simple and easy label to apply but labour wear it with pride.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  11th May 2018

      Not equally culpable, but ‘an accessory before the fact’. I would say.

      He is making it seem ridiculous with the kiss as assault, but as I said, a full-on grab and kiss could well be one as well as being revolting. Being pnned against a wall by a stranger who slobbers all over one would not be as bad as rape, of course, but that’s about one could say in its defense. It’s nauseating to even imagine it.

      • alloytoo

         /  11th May 2018

        Kitty, I agree with you 100%,

        They also played up the point that the perpetrator had mental health issues.

        Now if the perpetrators mental health issues were sufficiently serious then this should not have gotten to the point of sentencing at all.

        The fact that it did, suggests that the mental health issues were relatively minor in respect of diminished responsibility.

        That being said if they were minor enough to not effect conviction, frankly they’re of no import as to the validity of the 3 strikes law.

        This transparent government is indulging in propaganda again.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  11th May 2018

          We’d need to know what the kiss was like. If it was someone who’s not all there doing it as a child would, nobody would class that as an assault. If they did and it was the sort that I described….well, they should at least be somewhere where they can’t do that to strangers.

  5. David

     /  11th May 2018

    This will play well with Winstons crowd, a billion dollars spent overseas at the demand of NZ First, ironic, and now what was once one of his policies being torpedoed so there goes the law and order vote.

    • Gezza

       /  11th May 2018

      Waiting with great interest for the post-budget polls.

    • PartisanZ

       /  12th May 2018

      David, didn’t you know, Winston hasn’t got a “crowd” any more … It doesn’t matter what he does in terms of NZFirst constituency … There’s none left …

      Winston has engaged a kind of unique, maladaptive Winston Peters’ ‘autopilot’ all his own … which will see NZFirst’s flame through to its extinction in 2020.

      Shame really … for want of a little consistency many a good NZFirst policy idea has gone West.

  6. sarineal

     /  13th May 2018

    I completely disagree with Little changing this law and the characterisation of the third strike crime as “assault of kissing”. It was actually a sexual assault and involved more than that. It otherwise would not be a third strike crime as that has to involve a ‘qualifying offence’ or in other words violent and sexual offending which carries a maximum penalty of seven years or more in prison.

    It is really disturbing to see these offences minimised down to seeming inconsequential to suit an ideological argument and to prevent having to address the law and how it works. Especially when the provision got waived, seemingly these types of crimes, the risk to the public and that the offender could escalate given the right conditions doesn’t count. That the person had a mental illness does not mean they do not understand right from wrong nor that they should not be accountable for what they do. That judge gave the OK for them to carry on offending just so long as they don’t go too far which sends a very bad message that they simply won’t bother upholding the law and holding offenders to account. 3 strikes is a deterrent and that only a few have come up as eligible says something. They shouldn’t get an out on that but will via judges and via the law being repealed.

    Little’s idea of doing something different is just catch and release to offend more. They offer no solution to work with recidivist offenders who more often than not have been given all the options (diversion, non-custodial sentences, rehabilitation and assistive programmes in prison, mental health services) to get them on the right track.

  1. Third strike punishment avoided, law to be scrapped — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition