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escalating violence in our community
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Sensible Sentencing Trust
8TH December 2001, Susan Couch was the Victim of a brutal, murderous attack by William Bell at the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA.
Three of Susan's work colleagues were bludgeoned to death and Sue was left with injuries so bad she was not expected to survive.
17th April 2007 - Susan Couch was the victim of an equally brutal offence, this time by the New Zealand Justice System! Susan's lawyer Brian Henry tried to convince the Supreme Court that Susan should be allowed to sue for damages. As Corrections had failed in theirdutyto adequately monitor Bell while on parole for beating a service station attendant with a baseball bat AFTER being given the takings.
Bell had 102 previous convictions, had been on parole for 8 months but was only seen twice by his Probation officer
Crown lawyer John Pike claimed Susan's application should be struck out. Mr Pike went on to say Susan should not be allowed to sue and have a jury decide if she should be entitled to damages because this wasn't a special case and Bel I was an everyday criminal.
The Supreme Court Judges reserved their decision and may take months to make a decision. The long wait is because of the major precedent that would be set if they allow Susan to proceed.
Their cautiousness is of course, no consolation to Susan. But she is a battler, first she defied the odds and survived Bells cowardly attack, now she must survive an equally cowardly attack by a criminal centered legal system that leaves victims wallowing in the mire with no right of redress and denied access to the Courts.
Garth McVicar - Founder
Trust founder Garth McVicar says Millions of dollars in compensation has been paid to criminals because of international “Human Rights” commitments and yet the Government are prepared to blatantly ignore international human rights commitments to victims!
In 1985 New Zealand was signatory to the United Nations “Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse”
Item (4) of this agreement states; :Victims are entitled to access to the mechanisms of justice and to prompt redress". Item (5) "Judicial and administrative mechanisms should be established and strengthened where necessary to enable victims to obtain redress through formal or informal procedures that are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible". See www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/hcomp49.htm
Susan Couch has been denied access to mechanisms of justice to seek redress, the process so far has been painfully slow, totally unfair, hugely expensive and totally inaccessible!
SO MUCH FOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITMENTSII!
Maybe we can forgive our Judges if they are unaware of this declaration, after-all they have been overworked in recent times making sure criminals were able to obtain redress through fair, accessible and tax-payer funded legal aid access to our Courts. To err once is forgivable – but twice?
In 2002 the Commonwealth Secretariat Human Rights Unit ratified a best practice; “Commonwealth guidelines for the treatment of Victims of Crime”.
In developing the guidelines the Human Rights Unit was “conscious of the historical neglect of the rights of victims of crime”!!
Section (1.7) of the “Fundamental Principles” states that, “Commonwealth countries should develop a charter of Victim’s Rights”… section (1.9) “Parliamentarians should consider the impact of any proposed legislation on victims of crime”. See www.thecommonwealth.org.nz
Forgive me for asking – but is New Zealand still a member of the Commonwealth?
I would suggest that this Government is not only out-of-step with the United Nations declaration and the Commonwealth best practice guidelines but also is very much in breach of its international human rights obligations!! Pity we don't have lawyers queuing to defend victims rights like we do criminals rights!
Under the current therapeutic warm-fuzzy criminal friendly legal system that awards compensation to criminals and denies victims access to justice –New Zealand has become a land fit for criminals.
No wonder violent crime continues to defy gravity and spiral out-of control to shamefully record levels!!
The Supreme Court would be very foolish indeed to deny Susan Couch expeditious and fair access to the Courts to seek redress…forget about the prompt and inexpensive bit!!
Very interesting times ahead!!
Thanks to all our members for their continued support.
Early this year I had the unfortunate and heart wrenching experience of watching a family’s reaction to a Court Sentence and explaining what that prison term actually means in reality.
Their 26 year old daughter had been kicked and battered to death with a cricket bat by her ex husband. Her face had been smashed and disfigured so violently only one eye was recognisable to her father when he identified the body.
Her ex husband was not charged with murder as he claimed he had been provoked by reading a text on her phone. He was sentenced to 6 years 9 months for her manslaughter.
Some of the liberal “it’s not their fault” criminal campaigners might feel that was a just sentence. The reality is by today’s standards he could be out before Christmas.
He is eligible to apply for parole at one third of his sentence which reduces his 6 year 9 month sentence to 2 years 3 months. Less 3 months for Back End Home Detention which he is entitled to apply for prior to parole, this now reduces it to a 2 year prison sentence. Deduct the 15 months he has already served in prison waiting trial which means he could serve only 9 months in prison after being sentenced to 6 years 9 months for the killing of their daughter.
Our grave concern is that it is highly likely the Parole Board will release him in that time. Under legislation the only criteria the Board must consider in releasing an offender is “the safety of the community” (and he is unlikely to attack you and I).
The Parole Board cannot take into consideration the horrific nature of the offence, they cannot look at his sentence as a punishment or place any merit in using it as a deterrent.
The real tragedy of this case is that he not only killed their daughter he destroyed the entire family. Her son who witnessed the attack is now two years old and her 4 year old daughter are being cared for by their grandmother. Her father and the children’s grandfather, who the family thought was the strongest family member able to cope with identifying her body, died six days after her unveiling from health problems. There is no medical diagnosis or criminal charge for death from a broken heart.
Her family asked me the question “Where is the Justice?”
The only answer I could honestly give was “there is none”.
How can this family possibly accept we have a justice system let alone have any faith in it to deliver justice? Unfortunately they are not alone.
My mum Lois Dear was brutally murdered on Sunday July the 16th 2006 in Tokoroa; she was a dedicated new entrant teacher at Strathmore primary school. Mum was given a disgusting beating that one can only describe as horrific and by a lowlife, Whetu TeHiko, with over 5 previous convictions.
I can only think of the absolute fear that mum had to endure in her last five minutes of life by a gutless 23 yr old, mum was 66 yrs old.
Mum was suffocated by her own sweatshirt, had her cheekbone fractured, her jaw and neck broken, most of her ribs broken, then there was the attempted sexual violation, why did this happen? I would like to know why this and other trash within our society can commit offence after offence and only be given a slap on the wrist from the system that is in place to protect us all.
Through the totally committed team at the Sensible Sentencing Trust and for the continued lobbying for change and more accountability, DNA was how the police were able to apprehend this lowlife, finding a hair at the scene.
TeHiko had not long been out of prison for committing a similar offence on his own partner, Why the hell was he out in society and why was he allowed to graze and mingle with people in society that have had no idea of his past?
Mum was simply at her place of work preparing for the new school term when this lowlife happened to walk by. It happened to mum; it could quite easily have been any other unsuspecting member of the public.
I have read a lot of other victim’s stories, not nice I know but these are the facts and we as victims have to deal with this day in and day out.
One thing I have noticed is that the system that is meant to keep us all safe is a JOKE! - offender based.
All victims have written and asked that there be change for the right’s of victims, so we are heard and treated as such, and not as potential offenders.
Generally speaking the public are sick of the lies and deceit from the politicians that make, but are unable to enforce law and order within our country.
They DON’T CARE; remember they pick up a pay check each week. Garth McVicar DOES NOT!
I ask all victims to unite, the power from this would prove overwhelming in the fight for the rights of victims, we cannot do this as a single entity but collectively we have more power and push to effect change than the current political regime/ dictatorship that currently exists.
I am sure the New Zealand public would support our plight, if aired more by the media and with the work SST are doing, through public meetings and lobbying parliament.
Lets all support the only true voice we have, Garth and Ann McVicar and the team at the Sensible Sentencing Trust.
Kevin McNeil, son of Lois Dear.
The SST team travelled to Coromandel recently to attend the ‘Lois Dear Memorial’ fishing competition. It was a real privilege to be asked and be involved in the proceedings on the day. All monies raised went to three very worthy charities, Child Cancer, Starship Hospital and NZ Plunket.
Kevin had organised very good entertainment with a world renowned hypnotist who gave his time free for the charities. Much to the crowds delight Garth along with the TV3 interviewer and Tanya from the local Coromandel FM were hypnotised (Garth as the James Bond) !!!!
Thanks to Kevin, Lisa and their helpers
Extract from Garth’s article that was published in the NZ Centre for Political Debate.
This was written in January so some statistics and dates will have changed.
“We love you son…be strong”.
These were the words the family of a 15 year-old young man called out as he stood in the dock accused of murdering 77 year old Doreen Reed in Auckland this week.
How pathetic for the Judge to allow his Court to be treated with utter contempt by the family of this low-life, imagine how the family of Doreen Reed would be feeling as they watched our criminal friendly legal system slowly begin to grind them down and humiliate the memory of Doreen Reed, a 77 year old woman that would not harm a fly.
This is just another sad reflection on our Courts and Judges that have Not only allowed – but in my opinion encouraged New Zealand’s sad – but speedy – decline from one of the safest countries in the western world to now being one of the most violent.
The 15 year old man and his misguided family [a bit late to tell him they love after he has committed murder] are bi-products of a Nation that has lacked any decisive leadership for the last four decades.
While being loath to point the finger at any one political party as the cause of this country’s demise I have no hesitation in laying the blame for the current lack of leadership fairly and squarely where it must belong…the buck must stop with our Prime Minister. Too many enquiries…too many reports…and not enough action!!
There have been seven murders in the first two weeks of 2007, have you seen our Prime Minister on T V condemning this lawlessness, encouraging the police, rallying the community, guiding us…giving us hope for a better future?
No!! Not a word…Helen Clark’s silence is an insult and absolute kick in the guts for all who remember a better yesterday, and those of us who want a better tomorrow.
Some may say I am a bit harsh on the PM…how could she possibly be responsible for the break-down in Law & Order, the decay – the rot – firmly entrenched in society today.
Leaders lead from the front, when they are wrong – they admit it, when they make a mistake – the apologize – get on with the job and show the way.
New Zealand has drifted rudderless – leaderless – for the last forty years, we have not had a leader who has had the courage to speak out against the liberalization of our laws – the warm fuzzy movement – that has caused the escalation in crime and violence, as marriage has been bastardized – ridiculed – as family values have been methodically destroyed.
While I am talking leadership and apportioning blame, my generation [I’m a baby boomer] can not escape responsibility, we have had some of the best years this country has had to offer. But as we have been wallowing in our prosperity and bathing in self gratifications we have allowed New Zealand to be marginalized – destroyed by a minority of liberal bureaucrats and academics with an agenda that sowed the seeds for what we are now reaping – an increase in violence and break down of societal values.
My generation has been very quick to apportion blame – but very slow to look in the mirror – we blame Judges, we blame politicians, and we blame the kids but if we open our eyes we will discover you and I have been subjected to an as yet unfinished social experiment that has used good hard-working kiwi battlers as puppets, we have been made fools of – but we allowed it to happen.
New Zealand’s crime rates started to spiral out of control in the late 1960’s early 1970’s, this coincides exactly with the beginning of the civil liberties / human rights movement, the introduction of Legal Aid, automatic parole at 1/3 of sentence, banning of corporal punishment and the end to compulsory National Service.
How do we change it…can we?
I believe we can, I’m an eternal optimist, while governments over the last thirty years have talked about getting tough on crime and the causes of crime, they have in fact done the opposite.
Parole used to be a privilege – not a “right” but since 1984 parole has progressively become more liberal, the 2001 Parole Act means most offenders actually spend less time in jail now with most released back into the community after serving only a fraction of their Judge given sentence – many with dire consequences. Parole is now a “right” and criminals and there criminal lawyers know it.
Parole is a Civil Liberties / Howard League driven experiment that has failed and allowed the likes of Graeme Burton, William Bell, Taffy Hotene and many others –some still before the Courts – to re-offend. Parole has destroyed the public’s confidence in the Judiciary, demoralized the police and cost many innocent lives.
Realistically the whole touchy-feely criminal justice system needs a total overhaul to stop innocent citizens becoming victims of career criminals [86% of criminals re-offend within 5 years] and parole is only a small part of this but it is where the Sensible Sentencing Trust believes we must begin.
Getting tough on crime and reintroducing “punishment” into Prison policy will mean literally writing-off a generation of hard-core career criminals but the reduction in crime and savings in innocent lives will be well worth the price. Cradle to Jail Kids love boundaries and responsibilities – they thrive on them – but various changes, both legislative and trickle-down has gradually – but systemically – removed any concept of boundaries and responsibilities from young peoples lives; sadly even before birth many children are now on the journey from cradle to jail.
As a Nation New Zealand has made many mistakes but if we are to have a better tomorrow we must learn from the past – pick ourselves up – and get on with the rebuild.
In my opinion the type of leadership New Zealand needs would immediately reintroduce the concept of good family values, good morals and get rid of Sue Bradfords proposal to ban smacking, introduce the strap and cane back into our schools and compulsory National Service for ALL school leavers.
Under Helen Clarks watch violence has dramatically increased to the stage some pundits are describing it as a cultural phenomenon.
The “Buck” stops with the leader, the leader must be accountable and responsible. Too many enquiries…too many reports…and not enough action!!
The most noted, and controversial, of the Sheriffs ideas was the set-up of “Tent City” as an extension of the Maricopa County Jail. When Arpaio took office, inmates were routinely being released early due to overcrowding. The Sheriff believed that “ courts, not head count” should determine when an inmate is released, and that no officer should be deterred from making an arrest for fear that the inmate would be released due to jail overcrowding
We now have the same problem happening in our own country…The Trust has been very lucky in getting funding for Garth to travel to Arizona in August. He will spend two days with the Sheriff's department.
We envisage he will come back with some very good reports!
The English author writes on the corrupt and dysfunctional justice system in the UK. Garth suggests it could have been written for New Zealand's Legal System!!
Author of ‘Dumbing Down’ believes that our political correct education system allows many children to become lost- disillusioned and end up becoming the criminals of tomorrow.
The Trusts plans to tour Dr Donnelly with David Fraser next year.
The Prime Minister said it [ but don’t hold your breath]. After the Burton parole bungle the P M promised major changes to the Parole Act, Helen Clark said that parole would again become a privilege – not a right. Wow – if only this were true! Parole should not be available for violent or repeat offenders and we will continue to push for this, how many more innocent Kiwis must die before the P M will show some real leadership? Victims rights – where are they?
Late last year Parliament held an inquiry into Victims Rights – as we go to print we are still waiting to hear if Parliament will be so gratuitous as to grant victims any rights at all!!
There appears to be some acknowledgement that New Zealand’s current therapeutic warm-fuzzy criminal centered legal system is failing and is a major factor in the escalating violent crime rate. A major revamp is supposedly underway but the bungling bureaucrat responsible for the failed policies find it hard to admit they were wrong.
Spiraling youth crime has sent shock waves through the youth justice sector with an acknowledgement that a complete shake-up including lowering the age of criminal responsibility is long overdue.
At present we are working on our election strategy, the contents on this page are all part of that strategy. The Trust is raising funds for this campaign. We feel the time is right to bring the Law and Order debate to the top of the election agenda.
We plan to fight hard for Victims Rights and Reform leading into the election.
Along with these leaders
The Trust achieved a milestone in 2006 with the organisation winning a Hawkes Bay Community award for the work we do with victims. This followed with a very good 8 page article in the North and South magazine. Our good fortune continued in January 2007 with the Trust winning the National prestigious Trust of the Year.
SST joined forces with two other Trusts, Family First NZ and For the Sake of our Children Trust, meeting with various politicians to speak against Sue Bradford’s Anti Smacking Bill. SST believes amending Section 59 will not address or reduce New Zealand’s shameful and appalling child abuse statistics and believes that if the current laws were enforced our children would be adequately protected. We believe this Bill will have dire long term social consequences for our young people and foresee more prisons having to be built to accommodate more of our youth as the trickle down of less discipline flows through.
SST representatives and SST lawyers met with Justice Minister Mark Burton, Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor and their advisers to stress the importance of public safety and highlight the fact that the public have lost confidence in the judicial system especially in the light of the Graham Burton case. Issues of parole, life sentences, prison numbers and youth crime were discussed. We felt the meeting was worthwhile with all parties welcoming suggestions and open discussion.
The recent tragedy of Carl Kuchenbecker murdered by Parolee Graham Burton prompted a meeting with Carl’s father Paul and Nick Rea who was also injured by Burton. This meeting was with SST lawyers to investigate legal avenues in bringing about accountability to prevent such a tragedy reoccurring. This will be an ongoing issue.
Other meetings have been held with Parole Board, Police Commission, Judges, Law Commission. SST has attended and presented submissions to Select Committee hearings on Victims Rights, Parole and Sentencing, Young Offenders Bill, Serious Crimes amendment Bill.
SST was invited to attend a meeting with the Youth Justice Independent Advisory Group to discuss youth offending. Our major concern being the escalating level of serious violent crime being committed by young people. SST believes Family Group Conferences are failing and do nothing to hold child offenders accountable for their crimes. There is no limit to the number of FGC’s a young offender attends, programs and rehabilitation are ineffectual hence the huge number of recidivist serious youth offenders. Police and Judges are powerless to deal with the problem and are becoming increasingly frustrated as they watch the same youths progress from petty crimes to serious violent crimes because that’s what our law allows.
Once again thank you to those members who have already renewed their membership and we welcome our new members. It is a privilege to work on your behalf to bring about the much needed changes within our Justice system. We appreciate your support and look forward to working on your behalf.
Pete continues to be a valued member of our team, the sight is still one of the best and is used extensively. Thanks also to Pete's team of helpers…
On February 16th the Trust had its 6th Birthday. To celebrate we held a very a successful charity Golf tournament in Hawkes Bay. We would like to thank our many sponsors especially Andy Lowe who supplied the ‘ Golf Course’. Many people would like to see this become an annual event, we will decide on this over the next few months.
It’s membership renewal time again!
There is a yellow renewal form in this newsletter.
Please return it with your membership to:
The Sensible Sentencing Trust
P.O. Box 701
Think about joining a friend..
WE NEED YOU….
We encourage you, our members to write to us and have your say. We look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for all the good work you are doing on behalf of so many of us. You represent us so well. Keep it up
Keep up the good work 90% of NZ’s agree with your policy, one day the other 10% will act fully on it hopefully in our lifetime, somehow I doubt those politicians will!
I support the words ‘ sensible sentencing’ and hope that something can be done for the victims and that criminals are treated in a way that befits the crime that they have committed. Best wishes to all those who are working so hard to maybe one day make this happen
May the organisation be strong, endure and achieve success for all law abiding New Zealanders
I am absolutely appalled at the Correction and Justice Depts. Decisions so far in 2007 and I sincerely hope that being vocal
will bring change
I applaud your achievements and acknowledge that change can happen and the influence of impractical ‘liberal’ voices can be out weighed before it is too late.
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