Stalker case – surprise over job ‘secrecy’

Further to Questionable sentence and suppression after criminal harassment the ODT has followed up today with more on the attempt to keep the person convicted of criminal harassment and intentional damage a secret.

A public servant who subjected a Dunedin businessman to “a living hell” for two and a-half years has finally been named – but his occupation remains under wraps.

Jeremy Fraser Buis (39), appearing in the Dunedin District Court yesterday, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

The victim – Danny Pryde – voluntarily gave up his own name suppression yesterday and said he was “extremely surprised” Buis’ job was kept secret.

“I think that’s quite important for the public to know … his profession and I don’t know why they’d hold that back,” he said.

More than quite important, but there is some ‘Streisand effect’ in action because it has increased publicity and outrage.

Judge Paul Kellar gave no reasons for his decision, which was made after counsel Anne Stevens said publication of the job would cast aspersions on Buis’ colleagues.

Suppression hasn’t prevented aspersions being cast, in fact it has probably made it more likely.

University of Otago dean of law Prof Mark Henaghan said the situation was unusual and almost futile.

“Once the name is released, people can find out what he does,” he said.

It’s simple to find out, even without seeing or hearing it said all over the place (which is happening).

Police said he was released from court after sentencing through an “alternative exit”, rather than the public doors, to avoid conflict with the victim’s family.

“Avoidance of the media was not a consideration,” the spokesman said.

I don’t think that’s an issue. The suppression of Buis’ occupation is.

Mr Pryde, owner of Pryde Engineering, said he wanted to lift the lid on the ordeal which had permeated almost every area of his life.

“I’ve got a business to run and it’s extremely embarrassing trying to explain this to customers,” he said.

“I’m happy for them to read about it and sympathise if they feel the need to.”

Mr Pryde believed the sentence was light and described the $15,000 emotional-harm payment, which the court heard Buis had borrowed, as “dirty money”.

“I’d almost be prepared to give that away to charity. He tried to destroy my business and my marriage. [Money] doesn’t fix those things,” he said.

Danny is a good and innovative engineer. I don’t see them often now but Danny and his wife have always seemed to me to be very nice people. They, and no one, deserves to be treated this badly.

I think that continued suppression of Buis’ occupation is worse for his employer and his colleagues (or ex colleagues) than being open and up front about it.

NOTE: Nothing that reveals the occupation of Buis can be tolerated here.

Filipo sentenced

Losi Filipo chose to plead guilty again and was sentenced today.

Stuff: Rugby player Losi Filipo ordered to do counselling under supervision sentence

Filipo’s earlier discharge without conviction on assault charges was overturned after an appeal by police, and he re-appeared on the charges in the High Court at Wellington on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old former Wellington Lions player maintained his guilty plea and asked to be sentenced immediately.

He was sentenced to nine months’ supervision for assaulting four people, including two women, and has been ordered to attend alcohol counselling, and a course on living without violence. 

In court, Justice David Collins had said the stomping on one victim’s head was “a chilling act of violence that could easily have led to his death”.

In the attack in central Wellington in October last year, Filipo grabbed his first victim, Greg Morgan, by the collar, punched him towards his head, knocking him unconscious. While Morgan was on the ground, he stomped on him about four times, causing injuries including concussion, grazing and bruising.

I think this is a reasonable outcome.

Punching someone and knocking them unconscious is bad enough, but then stomping on their head is despicable and very dangerous. and he went on to assault three other people. The original discharge was inadequate.

The judge took a starting point of two years’ jail and discounted for Filipo’s guilty plea, his youth, lack of previous convictions and the efforts he made after the incident with counselling, saving to pay reparation, doing community work and offering to apologise.

It makes sense to keep him out of prison providing he does the course and counselling properly.

There has to be a clear message that mindless violence should have consequences for the perpetrator – it can severely injury or kill victims.

I think that if Filipo offends violently again in the future he should expect a prison sentence.

But Madeleine Chapman at The Spinoff had a different view of the outcome – The conviction of teenager Losi Filipo is nothing to celebrate.

Congratulations, New Zealand. The court of public opinion has outdone any mere judge, delivering a punishment that reeks of knee-jerk outrage and lazy prejudice, writes Madeleine Chapman.

Losi Filipo was today re-sentenced to nine months’ supervision and counselling for assault. After being discharged without conviction earlier this year, the victims spoke out to the media and shared their side of the story. The public were outraged, threatening to boycott Wellington Rugby for allowing Filipo to remain in the programme, and calling for the sentencing to be appealed.

Wellington Rugby buckled, terminating Filipo’s contract, and the sentencing was overturned. Now Filipo has a conviction, no career, and few prospects given his name conjures up feelings of moral outrage, not to mention the google search nightmare which will forever be associated with it. Justice has finally been served, right?

What absolute bullshit.

I think the bullshit is in this article.

I think that Filipo stepped down from his contract. It’s unknown whether he will have a future career in rugby or not.

The original decision was appealed by the police, not the public. A judge considered things knowing there was a lot of public interest, and decided a discharge was the wrong decision.

The purpose of our justice system is to allow those who have in-depth knowledge of a case to make decisions on offenders based on countless mitigating factors. When someone is charged with an offence, they enter into the legal system and some time later, they exit the system with or without a conviction.

In that time, that all important time, a lot of things happen. Trials are undertaken, counsellors are met, references are consulted, and future repercussions are considered. Losi Filipo entered the justice system, went through all the relevant processes, cooperated fully, accepted his fault, committed to restorative justice, and was discharged without conviction.

That should be the end of the story. That is the justice system working.

No it shouldn’t be the end of the story, Sometimes judges get things wrong. That’s why we have an appeal system, so when questionable court decisions are made they can be tested further.

If he had been given nine months’ supervision and ordered to attend counselling the first time through the justice system, Filipo might strangely be in a better position than he is today. Because apparently an assault conviction isn’t as career-ending as his first judge thought.

That contradicts something she said earlier.

The Losi Filipo case has proven that more often than not, outrageous moral high ground comes before reason and way before compassion. A young man committed an offence, expressed remorse, attempted restorative justice, and was given a chance to be a positive influence in society. That same young man is now a convicted criminal, a known hated face and name without any apparent clear purpose in life, for the near future at least.

This is one case the appeal court found that the first judge got wrong, it’s ridiculous to claim “more often than not, outrageous moral high ground comes before reason” based on that alone.

Compassion resulted in Filipo avoiding a prison sentence despite committing a crime that was devoid of compassion.

Congratulations, New Zealand. You got what you wanted.

Yes, the justice system working as it was designed, able to correct things when poor decisions are made by judges, and able to make it clear that dangerous thuggery should not be let go without reasonable consequences.

When smacking becomes slapping, punching, kicking

Consternation over the so called anti-smacking laws seems to have largely faded away as the sky remained unfallen.

The law change, flawed as it was, was intended to protect children more from when smacking goes bad.

This case seems to show the law working as intended, where a mother admitted a representative charge of assaulting her child.

ODT: Woman admits assaulting daughter

A woman was sentenced to six months’ supervision by Judge Bernadette Farnan in the Queenstown District Court on Friday, after she admitted assaulting her child over a period of four years.

The woman, who was granted final name suppression, initially denied four charges against her, of assaulting the girl, now aged 11, by slapping, punching and kicking her about the body between April 21, 2011 and April 30, 2012; and between December 1 and December 25, 2015; punching and kicking her about the body between January 1, 2014 and November 30, 2015; and assaulting the child with intent to injure her by slapping and punching her in the head on several occasions.

Perhaps this mother simply ignored the law and ignored a general social abhorrence of inflicting violence on children.

But when smacking is promoted as being ok it can send signals to some that it is a normal way of disciplining and punishing a child.

And one person’s smack can easily become another person’s slap, and if physical assault on a child becomes a normal behaviour it doesn’t take much for that to slip further towards punching and kicking, especially in stressful situations.

The simplest safest approach is to not smack or hit children at all so there is less chance of escalation.

This doesn’t mean a total hands off approach is necessary, but if there is any chance of hurting then it should be avoided.

Teina Pora convictions quashed

The privy council has quashed the Tenia Pora convictions. This isn’t a surprise, the more that came out the more of a travesty of justice it looked.

Teina Pora’s convictions quashed but no decision on a third trial

Teina Pora’s convictions for the rape and murder of Aucklander Susan Burdett 23 years ago have been quashed by the Privy Council in London.

In delivering the judgement tonight, Lord Kerr said the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council has concluded “there was a risk of a miscarriage of justice if Mr Pora’s convictions were allowed to stand”.

The Privy Council noted in its formal decision the now famous confessions Pora made to police.

It found: “The combination of Pora’s frequently contradictory and often implausible confessions and the recent diagnosis of his FASD [fetal alcohol spectrum disorder] leads to only one possible conclusion and that is that reliance on his confessions gives rise to a risk of a miscarriage of justice. On that account, his convictions must be quashed.”

The board is seeking submissions within four weeks on the issue of whether there ought to be a third trial for the 39-year-old.

Will the Crown ever admit the stuffed this case up? Now would be a good time.

Teina Pora’s lawyer: He’s probably the happiest man in the country tonight

Teina Pora’s lawyer says he is “absolutely delighted, as is Teina and as are his supporters” following the Privy Council’s decision.

The Privy Council in London tonight quashed Pora’s convictions for the murder and rape of Susan Burdett in south Auckland in 1992.

Pora’s lawyer Jonathan Krebs says his client was “initially speechless” when he learned he was now a free man and would no longer be subjected to “very strict parole conditions”.

“But as it sank in he’s probably the happiest man in the country tonight.

It’s good to see he’s finally got something to be happy about. And his lawyer…

He said the Privy Council had not automatically ordered a retrial, which he says usually happens in cases where a conviction is quashed on appeal.

“What they have done instead is called for submissions from the lawyers as to whether there should be a retrial and over the next four weeks we as a team will be working on those submissions and naturally our argument will be that there should be no retrial.”

It’s not over yet and it’s hard to see how Pora can have a normalish life of freedom, but I hope compensation from the Crown is sought.

Amanda Banks succeeds in John’s appeal

The conviction against John Banks for filing an incorrect electoral return has been overturned by the court of appeal, largely due to the efforts of his wife Amanda to clear her own name.

NZ Herald reported Wife clears Banks’ name:

The Court of Appeal yesterday overturned former Act leader Mr Banks’ conviction for filing a false electoral return, charges which ended his parliamentary career.

A jubilant Mr Banks paid tribute to his wife who he said had been a hero for her part in clearing his name.

Amanda Banks’ “obsessive” detective work saw her husband John Banks’ electoral fraud conviction quashed yesterday and answered a High Court judge’s doubts over her honesty.

Mr Banks was convicted in the High Court this year after failing to disclose donations from Kim Dotcom to his Auckland Mayoralty campaign in 2010.

Crucially, the High Court’s Justice Edwin Wylie believed testimony given by Dotcom’s wife Mona over that of Mrs Banks about what was said at a lunch where both were present and at which Dotcom said donations were discussed.

Mr Banks’ appeal introduced affidavits from two US-based businessmen who he says were at that lunch. The pair – David Schaeffer and Jeffrey Karnes – both said donations were not discussed at that lunch.

The Court of Appeal’s Justices Ellen France, John Wild and Forrest Miller said that if the new evidence had been accepted in the High Court trial “it likely would have changed the outcome”. The Court of Appeal’s decision notes that Mrs Banks “was stung by the judge’s opinion of her reliability”.

“She became quite obsessed, as she puts it, with identifying the two Americans.

“She recalled that a transpacific communications cable had been discussed at the lunch and scoured news articles on the topic, eventually finding one which mentioned that Mr Dotcom had endorsed such a project and was trying to organise a group of investors to fund it.”

Mrs Banks’ research also identified the second businessman and Mr Banks’ lawyers contacted the two men and secured sworn affidavits from them.

The trial has taken a heavy toll on Banks – it wrecked is political career – and on both John and Amanda who say the pressure contributed significantly to their marriage breaking up.

The Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial – but say the new evidence would likely have overturned the outcome of the case.

The original trial judge put the credibility of Dotcom and his wife Mona ahead of the credibility of the Banks and this seems to be a major factor behind him finding Banks guilty – apparently incorrect or false claims swung the trial and the judge guessed incorrectly who wasn’t telling the truth.

A re-trial would add further hardship to Banks but he may think it could be worth it if it further clears his and his wife’s names.

This has been a major legal wrangle over the often fudgy world of political donations – it seems to have been driven by politically motivation – to take down the Government by removing Bank’s support from the last term coalition.

Bank’s resignation from Parliament was too late to cause major problems,

Dotcom went on to finance and set up a party with a main aim being to get John Key and National out of Government.

Politics is often a dirty game, and there’s some very dirty looking things swirling around this case.

How does signing off an electoral return after a failed campaign compare to bringing down the Government?