Neville Yates bid for fair trial fails.
Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party
Press Release - ALCP. 21st October 2004
Neville Yates bid for fair trial fails.
The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party are appalled that Neville Yates who has sought legitimate access to cannabis for the last six years has been found guilty of cultivation of 9 spindly plants. For this offence Neville Yates, a brain damaged amputee from an accident when he was only 14 years old could well go to jail, as this is his 9th cannabis offence.
"We hope the Jury will share some of this guilt." says Michael Britnell Deputy Leader for the Aotearoa legalise Cannabis Party.
One of Neville's main arguments was that he was acting legitimately. He backed this up with medical evidence of his injuries and treatments from his doctors as well as documentation of reports from the government in regard to progress for medicinal access.
Neville quoted from a few ministerial documents among them a quotation from documentation by Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton "It is possible to gain medical access to marijuana in New Zealand currently if you make the appropriate application under the Medicines Act"
Neville also quoted from page 14, point 61 of the Government Response to the Health Select Committee Report on it's Inquiry into the Public Health Strategies Related to Cannabis use and the Most Appropriate Legal Status', "A British Company G.W. Pharmaceuticals, has in development a number of cannabis preparations for therapeutic use. The company has indicated that it would be prepared to supply a product for a clinical trial in New Zealand."
"There is no barrier to this happening in either the Medicines Act or the Misuse of Drugs Act, provided the clinical trial requirements are met, the cannabis preparation is prescribed with the approval of the Minister and the appropriate licences for import, storage and distribution are obtained."
Tim Barnett M.P was summonsed to verify that Neville was known to him in his requests, meetings and submission to the government Health Select Committee 2001, for legitimate access to have cannabis for his pain and stress relief. Tim Barnett also verified Neville's communication with Health Minister. Annette King offering himself to be a guinea pig for any forthcoming trials in New Zealand.
Neville's defence was in summing up - "It says here you can get it and I have tried every which way to get it. It is the red tape that needs untangling here. My patients' rights need to be recognised. It is not me that is wrong, but in this case it is the law that is wrong. Laws have been wrong before."
"I believe by a technicality of tangled red tape that I am not actually breaking the law. I believe medical access is legitimate for my medical necessity as I do not use, and am not allowed to use, any other prescribed medications for my pain management."
"I have not used prescribed medicines for 6 years due to their addictive nature and the other negative impacts on my life like standover tactics. Cannabis works for me. However I am forced to grow my own as the government will not as yet provide me with the medication that works best for me." quotes Neville Yates
Another major point that Neville was trying to get across to the Jury was that they the Jury are in charge and that they have the right to find him Not-Guilty. That is why he elected a Trial by Jury, he knew he could go to jail for this offence and he figured his best fighting chance to stay out of jail was to ask the Jury to find him Not-Guilty.
Neville also refuted police statements of "mature, hydroponic and sophisticated". This was supported by key defence witness Kevin O'Connell, President for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. Mr O'Connell said "Due to rates of attrition Neville's plants would provide Neville with perhaps 3 months of his medicinal requirements" Mr O'Connell also stated that "According to the National Drug Survey there may be around 20,000 people at any one time growing their own cannabis in New Zealand".
Neville Yates also spoke about Police discretionary powers and related it to the Jury who he insisted also has these discretionary powers.
In fact the original purpose of Juries under the Magna Carta besides finding people guilty or not guilty - is that Juries also do have the right to go against an unjust law if the punishment is severely disproportionate to the offence. We believe Neville has proven this to be so in this case.
Unfortunately Judge Holderness was not going to allow any revolution to take place in his courtroom. With a directive that twisted their legal arms right up their legal backs the Judge told the Jury they have sworn to uphold the law of the land and that they cannot go against New Zealand law. The Jury literally was forced to return a guilty verdict.
It may well be the law we say, but in this case, it certainly was not Justice being done. The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party says "Shame on our Justice System." This is a law that is under question and review in Parliament and we believe Neville should have been shown mercy.
Neville Yates bravely represented himself with a support defence team -
Michael and Irinka Britnell from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, as well as
Blair Anderson of the MildGreens who stood in as the McKenzie's Friend and lawyer Tony Garrett who generously gave of his time over and above the legal aid allowance assisting the team with technical advice. Thanks to all other supporters. Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party,