Call to Fast-Track ‘Protection of Children’ Bill

Media Release 4 October 2013
Family First NZ is calling on all political parties to fast-track a private members bill which would make criminal offending in the presence of a minor an aggravated factor at sentencing.

The call comes in response to a murderer who slashed a young mother’s throat being granted a minimum non-parole period of 10 years despite the judge describing the murder as a “horrible attack of the utmost gravity” and the victim’s 3-year-old daughter finding her mother lying in a pool of blood. The girl now suffers night terrors as she relives the ordeal.

The Sentencing (Protection of Children from Criminal Offending) Amendment Bill of NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor has had its 1st reading and has been referred with unanimous support to the Law and Order Select Committee for consideration.

“This sentence just handed down appears to have ignored the highly aggravating factor of a child knowingly being present and adds to the grotesque nature of the crime, where in effect there were two victims,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The sentence itself already sends a dangerous message to the community about the value of life and fails to recognize the pre-meditated nature of the act. If the judge in fact did take in to account the presence of a child at such a horrendous crime, it makes even more of a mockery of the sentence handed down.”

“Currently the presence of a child and the risk of harm to them is not specifically listed in the Sentencing Act – yet if we are serious about protecting children from the harm of witnessing family violence and other serious crime, it should be specifically listed. We have granted this protection to police, fire, ambulance and corrections officers. This protection should be granted first and foremost to children,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Perhaps then, the sentencing will be more reflective of the full harm that has been caused.”

ENDS