Small abuse of bail system doesn’t justify big change – Law Society

NZ Herald 2 Aug 2012
The small number of serious crimes committed by people on bail may not justify an overhaul of the principle that defendants are guilty until proven innocent, the Government has been told. One of the proposed bail reforms is reversing the burden of proof for serious violent, sexual or class-A drug offences. This means defendants would have to prove to the Crown that they would not be a threat to public safety if released from custody. At present, the Crown must show why defendants should be locked up. The New Zealand Law Society told MPs in a select committee yesterday that this was a major change in legal principles and could not be made lightly. Spokesman Andrew Butler said: “For the first time, Parliament is being asked to pass a bill which says that in particular times of offending, the onus is reversed and the defendant, simply by dint of allegation of offending, carries the burden of showing why it is that they should be allowed out on bail. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10823962

Here’s just five examples of ‘small abuse’

1/2. The Tauranga parents of a young woman strangled to death in January 2005 joined hundreds of other families at a protest march in Auckland yesterday. Brian and Lynette Brown’s 24-year-old daughter Natasha Hayden was slain by Tauranga man Michael Curran at McLaren Falls on January 10, 2005. Curran was granted bail by a High Court judge on July 7, 2005 after four unsuccessful bail applications and while awaiting trial he murdered 2-year-old Tauranga toddler Aaliyah Morrissey on September 13, 2005.
http://www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz/news/tauranga-couple-join-bail-bill-protest-march/1287332/
3. 17-year-old Augustine Borrell was stabbed to death at a party in the Auckland suburb of Herne Bay in September 2007. Murderer Haiden Davis was on bail for another violent crime when he killed Augustine…
4. Robyn Hanson spoke of her relative Vanessa Pickering, who was murdered by Malcolm Chaston while he was on bail. She described Chaston as a ”ticking time bomb” who should never have been granted bail. ”Urgent changes need to happen so no other families have to suffer such an unnecessary tragedy.” Pickering’s body was found on a hill near Godley Head in Christchurch in February 2010. Chaston, a 41-year-old with a violent criminal history, was jailed indefinitely for her murder.
5. The Sensible Sentencing Trust-led campaign wants judges to be subjected to annual performance reviews and the right of serious offenders to apply for bail removed. It was sparked by the fatal stabbing of Auckland teenager Christie Marceau. The man accused of  Marceau’s murder was on bail at the time of the alleged murder.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/6488179/Borrells-father-backs-Christies-Law

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