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Goff offers alternative home invasion legislation

2000 web siteLabour justice spokesperson Phil Goff today challenged the Government to drop its badly flawed home invasion legislation and adopt alternative legislation which he is proposing to Parliament.

"There is strong cross-party support in the House in favour of taking a tough line against those who commit serious violent crime against victims in the sanctity of their home," Mr Goff said.

"However, National's flawed legislation fails to achieve that objective and is being opposed for that reason.

"By trying to define what is or isn't a dwelling-house, it ends up creating bizarre anomalies which would make our sentencing law a farce.

"The man who murdered Christopher Crean by shooting him through the glass front door of his New Plymouth home would not, for example, have met the definition of a home invader in the Government's Bill.

"Nor would a criminal who chased his victim out of the home and raped or violently assaulted her in her backyard rather than in the house.

"A father who repeatedly raped his child in the sanctity of the family home would face a maximum penalty five years less than an intruder who raped the child. Why would a person who not only committed the awful physical act of rape but also breached the trust of his child be regarded as a lesser offender?

"My Bill proposes a more effective and less anomalous change to the law, similar to that proposed to the Select Committee by Crown Prosecutor and Law Commission member Tim Brewer.

"It states that the court must regard it as a serious aggravating factor in determining the length of the sentence if the offender committed a serious violent offence in the victim's home or the property on which the home is situated.

"That also helps avoid the situation National's proposed two-tiered sentencing system would create whereby attacks on victims like Nan Withers or perhaps a dairy owner robbed in his/her shop (not a home invasion) would have to be seen by the Court as lesser offences.

"Tough penalties are merited for serious violent offences. However, by themselves, they are not a strong deterrent.

"The most effective deterrent is having a police force able to catch more offenders.

"With arrest rates of burglars at only 11 per cent and falling and further cuts to police funding in this year's budget, that is unlikely to happen," Phil Goff said.

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