1. Name suppression.

Final name suppression should be available only for the benefit of victims while they wish it to be in place.

  • Interim name suppression should be granted only in exceptional circumstances.
  • Victims should be able to have the name suppression granted to the offender (which is only ever to protect the victim/s) removed at any stage, at no cost to themselves.
  • In the interests of openness, transparency and deterrence, the Government should establish an online, publicly available sex-offenders register. We all have a right to protect children and indeed ourselves from sex offenders.
  • In our experience, most sex offenders fear their name being made public as much as the fear of imprisonment. Sex offenders are often able to continue offending due to their identity, and therefore the risk they present to others, being suppressed.

 2. Recidivist burglars.

Add burglary to the schedule of Three Strike offences.

  • The crime that affects more New Zealanders every year than any other serious offence. Over 50,000 reported annually. Based on 2103 figures, just 15% of burglaries are resolved and less than 5% of reported burglaries result in a conviction. Less than 2% of reported burglaries result in a term of imprisonment.(1.)
  • Deterrence and incapacitation for recidivist burglars is therefore very low. Burglary has one of the highest rates of recidivism of any offence type (Nadesu, 2008)(2.)
  1. http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/crime-stats-national-20131231.pdf; http://datalab.justice.govt.nz/data#1
  2. Arul Nadesu, Reconviction patterns of released prisoners: A 48-months follow-up analysis, New Zealand Department of Corrections, March 2008)

3. Unprovoked attacks.

Mandatory maximum sentences should be imposed for attacks that are unprovoked, random, gratuitous or for the purpose of recreational violence.

  • Section 8(c) of the Sentencing Act currently states the judge: “must impose the maximum penalty prescribed for the offence if the offending is within the most serious of cases for which that penalty is prescribed, unless circumstances relating to the offender make that inappropriate
  • We propose this section be amended to specifically state that an offence involving an assault that is unprovoked, random, gratuitous or for the purposes of recreational violence (in other words, for no reason) is considered within the most serious cases and should carry the maximum penalty for the offence committed.
  • A definition of what constitutes ‘unprovoked’, ‘random’, ‘gratuitous’ or ‘recreational violence’ would be necessary.
  • This would apply to a limited number of offenders annually, but the justice value for the harm done to the victims would be immense, given the harm done to them is completely unjustified or extreme. This proposal is focused on some of the worst examples of violence, which should be strongly denounced and deterred in law.
  • This proposal has, in part, been inspired by the “one-punch” assaults issue that has caused numerous high-profile deaths and grievous injuries in New Zealand and Australia in the last couple of years. While the various Australian State legislatures have come up with a range of measures including mandatory minimum sentences and linking sentences to being influenced by alcohol or drugs, we consider the prime issue is whether the assault was unprovoked. In most cases, the assault has been not only unprovoked, but random and or for the purposes of recreational violence. Essentially, in some cases an innocent life has literally been ‘snuffed out’, or seriously damaged for no reason. The sentences handed down in most of these cases have been ridiculously lenient given the injury suffered and the unprovoked nature of the attack.
  • Violence is never acceptable. But unprovoked, random, gratuitous or recreational violence should be heavily punished and deterred in the strongest possible terms to reflect the public’s revulsion at such senseless violence.
  • For instance the following victims attacked, unprovoked:
    • Derek Round, retired journalist 2012
    • Phillip Cottrell, Radio New Zealand journalist, 2011
  • This policy should be supported by a ‘one punch can kill’ education campaign aimed at young men in schools and those arrested by police for any offence, particularly violence.

4. Introduce a ‘Degrees of Murder’ regime with ‘Life means life’ provision for 1st degree murder.

  • Currently the ‘worst’ cases of murder qualify for a minimum non-parole period of just 17 years. 1st degree murder should carry a true life sentence, without parole.
  • We suggest a wider range of circumstances should qualify as the worst murders, and be considered 1st degree murder, including:
    • Deliberate mutilation or dismemberment of a victim’s body. For instance:
      • Sophie Elliott’s body mutilated by Clayton Weatherston in 2008
      • Hayden Miles’ body mutilated and dismembered by Gavin Gosnell in 2011
    • Unprovoked, random, gratuitous or recreational violence
    • Committed in breach of a protection order or where the offender previously threatened to kill that person (premeditation or planning)
  • Multiple murder victims should require the offender to serve cumulative non-parole terms to adequately reflect each murder victim’s life.

5. Replace the Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity (‘NGBRI’) verdict with one of ‘Proven, but insane’

  • Current NGBRI verdict is highly offensive to victims and victims’ families
  • ‘Proven, but insane’ verdict would carry the relevant conviction
  • The decision as to secure mental health custody, imprisonment or otherwise would remain unchanged and subject to the presiding Judge’s discretion.

6. Kicks and stomps to the head of a victim.

  • Amend the definition of reckless murder (s167(b) of the Crimes Act 1961) to include circumstances where a victim is kicked or stomped to the head as being an act that recklessly disregards the possibility of death or grievous injury.
  • Amend other sections of the Crimes Act 1961 to ensure that any assault involving a kick or stomp to the head qualifies as a Three Strike offence, given such an act is highly culpable, inhumane and should be strongly deterred. Whether and for how long the offender is imprisoned would remain a matter for the sentencing Judge based on the seriousness of injury and other relevant factors.
  • We have been tracking a disturbing volume of serious attacks and homicides that feature the offender kicking or stomping the victim to the head. It is a cowardly, gratuitous and extremely dangerous act that can, and often does result in a victim suffering grievous, life-changing injuries, disabilities and sometimes death.
  • Kicking or stomping another human being to the head is vicious and inhumane in the extreme. It is a highly reckless act and in almost all cases means that the victim is on the ground and unable to effectively defend themselves. It should be strongly punished and deterred.
  • Numerous examples of the offender escaping a murder conviction and being found guilty only of manslaughter, despite the offender kicking or stomping the victim while on the ground and unable to defend themselves. For instance:
    • Hawea Vercoe, Bay of Plenty regional councillor and school principal, 2009
    • Phillip Cottrell, Radio New Zealand journalist, 2011

7. Introduce offence of ‘Home Invasion’ to the Crimes Act

  • Home invasions are an extremely serious crime, particularly when a confrontation with occupiers is sought or contemplated by the offenders. This is made worse when multiple offenders are involved and or weapons are carried.
  • Home invasions risk serious injury, sexual assault and even death. We have numerous case examples where this has been the case. We also have many examples of home invasions that qualify only as simple burglary, rather than aggravated burglary (currently defined only as burglary with a weapon). For such a serious offence with a high degree of risk and usually intent, we suggest this is a ridiculous state of affairs.
  • Residential properties should be considered safe from deliberate invasion and confrontation. The law should strongly deter and denounce home invasion.
  • We suggest a new offence of ‘Home Invasion’ be established carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years for the worst cases where a residential property is invaded while occupied and the offenders know or should reasonably conclude that the premises are occupied.
  • In numerous similar overseas jurisdictions, a burglary committed while the residential premises are occupied qualifies as an aggravated burglary, with maximum sentences of 20 years, 25 years or ‘Life’.
  • Examples include:
    • New South Wales (25 years u0026amp; very wide definition)
    • Victoria (25 years u0026amp; wider definition than NZ)
    • Western Australia (20 years and wider definition than NZ)
    • United Kingdom (where the maximum term is ‘Life’, but same definition as NZ)

8. Establish a Victims Commissioner and ensure victims’ access to case files

  • A Victims’ Commissioner has been established in the UK.
  • We have worked with a number of victims or their remaining family who have had difficulty accessing their case files or even sentencing notes which typically are given in open court. This is concerning given the presumption of openness and natural justice that should operate. This creates unnecessary stress and suffering to victims or their remaining family.

9. Abolish parole

  • Presumption that the Judge given sentence should be served entirely with mandatory post-release supervision.
  • Provide for up to 10% reduction in sentence/parole as an incentive for good behaviour and embracing opportunities for rehabilitation and addressing drivers of crime factors.
  • Rigorous testing and enforcement of parole and post-release conditions.
  • Re-offending while on parole should be subject to a strong presumption of recall to serve the remainder of the sentence, and any additional sentence for new offending to be imposed cumulatively.
  • Pre-screening of offenders with low prospects of meeting parole eligibility will reduce unnecessary parole hearings and anxiety for victims.

10. Cumulative sentencing

  • Tighten the guidance in relation to the use of concurrent versus cumulative sentencing under s84 of the Sentencing Act 2002, to ensure that offences committed as separate incidents or involving multiple victims would require cumulative sentences except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Each offence committed should carry a measurable cost to the offender, and spree offending should not be subject to significant sentence discounts vis-à-vis offending separated more clearly in time or circumstance.

11. Jury service should be paid at the juror’s regular income rate

  • Jury service is an important public service, but comes at too high a financial cost for many, especially those with children and a mortgage to pay.
  • In our experience, many potentially sound jurors exclude themselves largely due to personal financial considerations, thereby reducing the pool of potential jurors.
  • A person should be paid 100% of their usual income while serving on a jury, perhaps limited to $100,000 p/a pro-rata.
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Do you want to make a difference?
Due to growing demand, the Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) and Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) are on the search to grow our advocating teams.
I'm Interested
Thank You
We will be in contact with more information soon!