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Kidnap trial sparks call for law review

Kidnap trial sparks call for law review

National's Justice spokesperson says victims of violent crime should not have to face cross-examination by alleged offenders accused of the crime.

Richard Worth is calling for a review of the law which allows defendants to represent themselves in cases involving violence.

Commenting on the conviction of Wellington man, John Burrett, of kidnap conspiracy, Mr Worth says Mr Burrett's decision to defend himself in the trial "threatened to undermine the very integrity of the legal system."

"It is quite apparent reading the trial rulings that Mr Burrett wasted the time of the Court and the jury with irrelevant and ineffective cross-examination.

"The cost of this unnecessarily protracted trial would no doubt be substantial."

Mr Worth is backing the comments of the judge, Justice Hammond, that "the general problem of unrepresented defendants is one which may well deserve a review..."

"Defendants representing themselves is one of the most difficult problems in our justice system. If judges intervene in a trial, they run the risk of the jury siding with accused so the trial is often left to run on with only limited intervention.

"The 1999 Law Commission report recommending a ban of personal cross-examination by unrepresented defendants in cases involving certain types of violence needs revisiting.

"This happens overseas, and it should happen here," says Mr Worth.

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