Sian’s theory – Clayton’s defence
A possible verdict: Guilty.
That’s my reaction to the outrageous suggestion from Chief Justice Sian Elias that we should overcome our prison overcrowding by letting some of the crims out through an executive amnesty.
She is guilty of a gross misreading of totally justifi public opinion on crime and the victim community it preys on.
The learned and muchrespected judge says that prison overcrowding poses “significant safety and human rights issues”.
So does her suggestion – to the power of around 100.
To set these anti-social, wrong-doers free simply because it’s convenient to do so and because the present and future state of jails is costly, involves “significant safety and human rights issues” too – for the rest of the population.
Having had the misfortune already of being the actual or possible target of the crims, they would be instantly at risk again.
But she’s very right on one thing. “Such solutions will not please many ...”
They certainly won’t, your honour. Nor should they.
So what if, as she says, “other countries use executive amnesties to let prisoners out early to prevent overcrowding”.
Some “other countries” like China, shoot their criminals, avoid overcrowded jails and even save the cost of a trial before pulling the trigger.
Others, like Arab states, chop hands off, stone raped women for “adultery”.
Public beheadings are also the vogue in other places.
But other places, other so-called judicial systems, aren’t New Zealand. And amnesties are just not acceptable here.
Where they are used, they mostly involve political prisoners – or have political undertones.
Our injustice system has more than enough problems already without adding this weird solution into the mix.
Like the ridiculously long delays in getting to court – like a year in some cases and getting worse by the month.
Coincidentally, adding in remand prisoners who might well be found not guilty when they at last face up to Dame Sian’s brother and sister judges.
Delays mean that people are serving big slabs of their ultimate sentence before a jury gets the chance to weigh up the facts.
Or worse, people held later to be innocent have already effectively done time for something they did not commit.
And what about the log jam in coroners’ courts where families are waiting years for formal cause of death verdicts on their loved ones?
Rather than judges, politicians and the community being sidetracked into worthless alternatives like Dame Sian’s possible solution, they should work towards earlier answers to these issues with their particular “significant human rights issues” – rather than outlandish and unacceptable amnesty pipedreams from the country’s highest judicial bench.
And while we’re on about court and jail, what about that for a Clayton’s defence?
I can’t remember when the community has been provoked to such anger as the marathon, self-serving “testimony”-fiction generated by Clayton Weatherston’s unrepentant, bizarre defence of himself – and his second, this time verbal, posthumous attack on his original victim, Sophie Elliott.
As if her death of 200-plus cuts was not bad enough, the callous decision to expose her mother and others in her family to this fiveday adversarial tactic took our legal processes and media coverage of it into new and totally unacceptable territory.
Night after night, at peak viewing time, he earned the title of the country’s most hated man. It was a totally justified rating.
And at terrible cost to those who mourned his victim, who had somehow, in death, been transposed into the dock, with her killer as the prime and hateful witness in his assassination of her character.
A defence? Rather a brutal and scarifying attempt to defend the indefensible. • In the mailbag:
The wheel-clamp pursuit of the old and disabled just goes on. Another letter, another victim.
“I had my wheel clamped at Westfield Manukau. I had recently arrived from Brisbane and took my 89year-old mother out from the aged care home she was staying in to have a cup of coffee.
“I parked in a disabled space because of her age and her lack of mobility, and did not realise I had to display a permit.
“At no point in my route of entry to the carpark did I see any notices saying that wheels would be clamped or that disabled permits had to be displayed.
“I would never park in a disability space unless I had a disabled person with me, which I had in this instance.
“There were plenty of disabled spaces available when I parked and there were still plenty vacant when I returned to my vehicle about 40 minutes later and found my wheel clamped.
“I tried phoning the company on the number given on the yellow notice affi to my car, and after 40 minutes – standing in a very hot carpark – was still getting a message that the lines were busy and to try again later.
“Eventually, the wheel clamper arrived (who was quite sympathetic) and after sending a text to his office, they rang back and spoke to me.
“They were very abrupt, almost to the point of being rude.
“They were adamant I had to pay the fine, so after paying my fine my wheel was unclamped.
“The wheel clamper suggested I write a letter to the wheel clamping company, which I did, and I received what I consider an unsympathetic and curt reply under the circumstances.
“I have since applied and received a mobility permit for my mother.
“I can only see the action above as being revenue raising, especially as the majority of disability spaces were empty.
“My mother was obviously disabled and we were both unaware – because of inappropriately positioned signs – that mobility permits had to be displayed, or that such permits existed.
“I wish Royce Nathan, who helped in the last published case, had been around to help with my problem!” –