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Family Owed Explanation

Posted on 29 May 2009

ACT New Zealand Law & Order Spokesman David Garrett today expressed his concern following the announcement that no one will be facing charges over the police shooting of innocent bystander Halatau Naitoko - following a motorway chase in January.

"While not charging the officer concerned with manslaughter is probably justifiable, it seems incomprehensible that the officer is not facing charges under the Arms Act for failing to properly identify his target," Mr Garrett said.

"There are only two explanations as to how this tragic situation arose: either the bullet ricocheted and killed Mr Naitoko, or the officer aimed at and shot the wrong person by mistake. If the explanation is the latter then it is difficult to justify the announcement not to prosecute.

"In a country where hunting remains a popular pastime, target misidentification unfortunately has frequently resulted in many deaths - often the death of one friend at the hands of another. Regardless of the tragedy of such a situation in most cases - a prosecution goes ahead, and more often than not results in a conviction.

"So what happened to one law for all? Are there different laws for police using firearms? Why should hunters be held to a higher standard of care than the police? If there is any justification for different standards being applied, surely it is armed policemen who should be required to meet a higher standard of care?

"In this case the bare blithe announcement that there will be no prosecution is simply not good enough. Rather than leaving the family in limbo waiting for the outcome of an IPCA enquiry and Inquest, the police owe the family an explanation," Mr Garrett said.


Inaccurate Information Betrays Public Trust

Posted on 28 May 2009

ACT New Zealand Law & Order Spokesman Mr David Garrett today corrected comments made by New Zealand Law Society representative Jonathan Krebs on the proposed 'Three Strikes' policy to ensure that the public is not misled by out-dated and incorrect information.

"This is a subject that Mr Krebs is clearly unfamiliar with - as he demonstrated before the Law & Order Select Committee," Mr Garrett said.

"There, Mr Krebs claimed that 'Three Strikes' legislation had increased the killing of witnesses overseas by people wishing to avoid the consequences of a third strike - a claim citing a study found to be based on pure speculation and proven incorrect in 2002.

"Mr Krebs went on to give a Newstalk ZB interview yesterday and referred to early results of three strikes laws in New York - New York has never had 'Three Strikes' laws. He went on to say that statistics showing a 50 percent reduction in homicide and robbery in California since 1994 were based on 'just one study' - yet those figures actually come from crime statistics sourced from California's Justice and Corrections Departments.

"One would think that individuals called to appear before Select Committee would actually research the issue to ensure their evidence is up to date and based on fact. Sadly, however, this clearly is not always the case.

"Individuals like Mr Krebs represent organisations of high credibility and have an obligation to fulfil the trust that New Zealanders place in them. As such, they must have a firm grasp of the facts to ensure that they do not risk misleading the public or politicians," Mr Garrett said.


ACT Announces Public Debate On Three Strikes

Posted on 15 May 2009

ACT New Zealand today advised that a public debate will take place next week between ACT New Zealand Law & Order Spokesman David Garrett and Rethinking Crime & Punishment's Mr Kim Workman. The topic of the debate is 'Public Safety and Three Strikes'.

The debate will be held at 7.15pm, Mairangi Bay, Tuesday, May 19 2009 and will be moderated by Mr George Wood. There will be an opportunity for written questions from the floor.

Public Debate - Public Safety and Three Strikes; Mairangi Bay Community Church, 49 Maxwelton Drive, Mairangi Bay, Auckland; 7.15pm, Tuesday, May 19 2009.

Classic Example For Three Strikes

Posted on 29 Apr 2009

Nigel Whakarau is a classic example of the type of offender ACT's 'Three Strikes' Bill - now part of the Government's Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill - seeks to put away, ACT New Zealand Law & Order spokesman David Garrett said today.

"Whakarau pleaded guilty to assaulting kidnapping and robbing a female real estate agent who managed to escape after struggling, while Whakarau attempted to bundle her bound and gagged into the boot of his car," Mr Garrett said.

"Whakarau's known criminal history is grim reading, commencing with an invasion of an elderly couple's home using weapons in 1988. Only eight months ago he was released from what is described as a 'lengthy' jail term for the home invasion and kidnapping of a businessman in 1996.

"Under ACT's original 'Three Strikes' his latest convictions would constitute a third 'strike' and he would without a doubt be sentenced to life with a minimum non parole period of 25 years when he comes up for sentence in June.

"As things stand, the sentence Whakarau receives will depend on which Judge he gets - a realist or one who believes in endless chances - and how good Whakarau's lawyer is on the day.

"Whether this thug would receive a 25 to life sentence under National's current version of the 'Three Strikes' legislation is unknown, because we don't know how long his previous sentences were.

"This case neatly illustrates the need to remove the current hurdle of two five year prison sentences before a 25 year to life sentence can be handed down for a third 'Strike' offence. God only knows what would have happened to his latest victim had she not escaped from him. The only certainty is that it would not have been good. The only place for continual re-offenders like Whakarau is prison for 25 years," said Mr Garrett.


Police Must Adjust Focus

Posted on 29 Apr 2009

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman David Garrett urged police to take a good hard look at their role and realise just who it is they are supposed to be protecting, following reports of a Tokoroa shop worker who may now be charged for shooting an armed robber.

"Police need to remember what it is they’re paid to do: protect innocent people going about their business - not worry about the wellbeing of criminals," Mr Garrett said

"Zhuofeng Jiang wrested the gun from an armed robber and warned him not to move. The robber ignored this and Mr Jiang shot him in the leg to ensure the safety of his family. Suggestions that Mr Jiang may now be prosecuted defy belief.

"The fact that police are wasting time and resources working out whether or not to charge the victim in this scenario shows, once again, that the focus is all wrong. It is for this reason that I am re-iterating my call for an urgent review of Section 48 of the Crimes Act - the self-defence law.

"Mr Jiang did not grab a gun and go looking for people to shoot. Trouble came to him and he defended himself and his family. He is not a vigilante and police should not be wasting resources figuring out whether or not to charge him.

"If the law were amended, police could begin focussing on what it is that they actually exist to do: catch criminals and protect the innocent," Mr Garrett said.