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Chief Executive apologises over prosecutions

MEDIA RELEASE

Chief Executive apologises over prosecutions

14 MAY, 2014

Council Chief Executive Pat Dougherty has apologised to the McLeaveys and Monkeyman Tree Services for distress caused over their prosecution for damaging native trees on two Ōtaki properties.

Mr Dougherty told councillors at a scheduled meeting this morning that Council is advising the Crown Solicitor that it considers the charges against Monkeyman Services should be withdrawn. He said there were two reasons for this decision.

“Yesterday the judge considered the McLeavey case and decided the offending was on the trivial end of the scale and it did not justify prosecution. We also heard yesterday that Monkeyman Tree Services had elected a jury trial. Given the potential cost of that hearing, and the judge’s comments, the decision was made last night to advise the Crown Solicitor of Council’s view.”

Mr Dougherty says he had defended the decision to prosecute over the incident on two Ōtaki properties because he was advised there was sufficient evidence and the case was sound.

“Our senior planning staff had been out to the site. We had a consultant ecologist go to the site and we had external legal advice. The advice was that there was a significant enough breach of the District Plan rules to justify a prosecution. What we will now have to do is investigate how that advice was so different from the judge’s view.”

Mr Dougherty told the meeting a respected QC has been asked to undertake a full review of Council processes and the quality of professional advice it received. He said it needs to be acknowledged that the Judge’s comments effectively mean that Council must now review the threshold at which a prosecution is likely to succeed.


ENDS

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