The new national game of 'Name Suppression - pin the tail on the Ass', which is very much in the news at the moment, has reached the level of a Pythonesque farce when it was revealed that the man accused of attempting to murder a police officer (Jeremy Snow) in Papatoetoe just before Christmas (see blog post police officer shot in Paptoetoe) has been granted continued name suppression. He had it removed yesterday only to have it reinstated within an hour pending an appeal to the High Court.
The man* supposedly gave his reason for requesting name suppression as being this - his mum was abroad, couldn't be contacted and he didn't want her finding out from the press. Ok, but that was back at Christmas, surely someone should've tracked her down by now? if she's that out of contact she's hardly likely to be reading press reports about allegations that junior gunned down a rookie cop back home.
We can only surmise that the major reason for the suppression has been suppressed along with his name and that all will be revealed in the fullness of time.
Meanwhile, more importantly, Constable Snow is slowly recovering from his physical and psychological injuries in his Auckland flat and is being cared for by his parents, he's still in a wheelchair and may need a bone graft on his left leg. His recovery may take months, we wish him a full recovery and hope he's back doing the job he loves very soon.
The damages to the NZ judicial system may take longer to heal unless changes to the law are made very swiftly.
See: Government will look closely at Law Commission report, 16 Nov 2009:
"The report recommends significant changes for name suppression. "There is merit in having tougher standards before people can get name suppression, and in specifying in legislation the ground on which suppression can be granted," Mr Power said.Meanwhile a 'prominent Northland Civil Servant' is also seeking name suppression after pleading guilty to four minor fraud charges - switching price stickers on supermarket goods - the press can't even reveal which government department the man works for. Do the public have the right to know about the criminal convictions and honesty of its public servants? all will be decided next week. link
The commission said courts currently had "broad discretion" to block the publication of names and identifying information. The suppression of names or evidence should be restricted to exceptional cases and be made for compelling reasons, the report said.
Reasons should be specified in legislation and should reflect a high threshold.
The commission said name suppression should be used only where there was a risk of prejudice to a fair trial, undue hardship to victims and the accused or would identify another person who has suppression."
Update 15 January
* The accused man has been charged with a string of offences:
Shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Unlawfully possessing firearms including .22-calibre rifles, one with a silencer, and a double-barrelled shotgun.
Unlawful possession of a 2006 Audi car valued at $30,000.
Assaulting Kenneth Caine using a firearm as a weapon.
Assaulting Phillip Andrew Kingi using a firearm as a weapon.
Assaulting Amanda Riley using a firearm as a weapon.
Possessing a .38-calibre pistol.
(source NZ Herald)
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