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Sensible Sentencing Trust
(4th July 2012)
Recent cases involving offenders with mental issues have highlighted anomalies and inconsistencies regarding the treatment and detention of criminals within this category of offending.
Sensible Sentencing Trust Mental Health Issues spokesman, Graeme Moyle, has concerns around the discretion used by judges when dealing with these types of offenders.
"Serial rapist William Cornelius walked free from the Wanganui District Court last month because his defence team convinced the Court that their client suffered mild dementia and was therefore deemed unfit to plead" Mr Moyle said, "Judge David Cameron could have had Cornelius detained under section 30(1) of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act, but chose not to do so. It is concerning when judges choose not to use all the tools at their disposal to detain violent, vicious, and unremorseful offenders. Judge Cameron showed unnecessary compassion to this animal by discharging him and in doing so ignored his offending and the suffering and trauma endured by the victims of his actions" Mr Moyle said.
Moyle compared the case to that of Buddy Roberts who murdered his partner in 2005 and was, like Cornelius, found unfit to plead.
"The difference here", said Mr Moyle, "is that Justice Patricia Courtney used the laws available to her and her colleagues, and ordered Roberts to be detained in a psychiatric facility until well enough to plead. Roberts has spent the last seven years being treated at Auckland's Mason Clinic and last month was found well enough to enter a plea. At the Auckland High Court last month Roberts pleaded guilty to murdering Samantha Rangiawha. He was sentenced to life with a 10 year non-parole period and ordered back to the Mason Clinic as a Special patient to continue his treatment for schizophrenia. If in the next 10 years Roberts is deemed well enough, he will serve out the remainder of his sentence in prison."
"This is the correct use of the law" said Moyle. "If Justice Cameron had the courage to make use of the law at his disposal, as Justice Courtney has, a callous, vicious serial rapist would not have walked free."
"These offenders are not in control of their thoughts, and if they are not in a position to plead to the charges against them, they cannot be in a position to live safely in the community, especially given the seriousness of their offending."
Sensible Sentencing Trust Mental Health Issues Spokesman
Phone 07 8275121
Mobile 0274 941414
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