Sian’s the­ory – Clay­ton’s de­fence

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

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!” –

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