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Urewera 4 Not to be Retried

Urewera 4 Not to be Retried


It's Official: Urewera 4 Not to be Retried on Participation Charges Wednesday, 9th May by Annemarie Thorby

At 9am this morning the crown told the Auckland High Court that they would not be re-trying the Urewera 4 on 'Participation in an Organised Criminal Group' charges.

Supporters and some media were told that the time was 10am; people were present from 9.30am to hear the announcement but obviously were too late. However, a Memorandum from the Crown Council, Ross Burns, was available at the Court for public release. It can be read below.

Sentencing is still set to proceed on 24th May 2012.

Memorandum of Crown Counsel in relation to Callover on 9 May 2012 May it please the Court: 1. At the conclusion of the trial of Emily Bailey and others, the jury was unable to agree upon a verdict on count 1, which charged the accused with participating in an organised criminal group. The accused were all convicted of a number of charges relating to the unlawful possession of firearms and Molotov Cocktails. There were acquittals on other Arms Act charges. 2. The usual practice following one disagreement is that a re-trial follows as a matter of course. However, in the unusual circumstances of this case, a full and thorough review of the file took place to consider whether a second trial on the charge in respect of which the jury was unable to agree was appropriate. 3. The review process was conducted by a panel convened by the Crown Solicitor at Auckland, and consisted of himself, two senior Crown partners and both senior trial counsel. Input was invited and received from defence counsel. The process involved consideration of the case in light of the Solicitor General's national Prosecution Guidelines which require that before any prosecution is undertaken there should be sufficient evidence and that the prosecution be in the public interest. These are the same considerations that were taken into account in the initial decision to charge. 4. Following the review the Crown remains satisfied that the charge was properly brought and that the evidence placed before the jury met and still meets the required test of evidential sufficiency. This view is confirmed by the fact that the accused were unsuccessful in their application for discharge in relation to count 1 which was heard prior to trial and chose not to make any further applications during trial. The jury's failure to agree means no more than that whilst some members were not satisfied of the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, others obviously were. 5. In addition to determining evidential sufficiency, the Crown review considered relevant publ1c 1nterest factors in determining whether there ought to be a re- trial in respect of Count 1 In particular the following factors were taken into account: (a) The Crown case was that the alleged offending was serious. In relation to Count 1, it was the Crown case that the accused were the organisers or ringleaders of a group that had as its key objective the commission of serious violent offences. The training camps were held to prepare a large number of participants to undertake activities to further that objective The alleged offending continued over an extended period and involved clear pre-meditation and significant planning in terms of organising the camps, recruitment of camp attendees and the acquisition and use of firearms, ammunition and incendiary devices. (b) While the organised criminal group charge has rightly been described as the main charge faced by the accused, the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment compared to four years imprisonment in respect of the Arms Act offences. Conviction on the organised criminal group charge is therefore unlikely to result in a significant uplift in the sentence to be imposed in respect of the Arms Act charges. (c) Five years have elapsed since the commission of the first offence on which the accused were convicted and trial. Enquiries have indicated that a re-trial may be able to be accommodated before the end of this year. If there were pre-trial applications that needed to be heard, a trial date in 2013 is likely to be more realistic. The delay is not undue having regard to the history of the case but it is nevertheless relevant that the accused would have faced a lengthy wait for their re-trial. (d) Any re-trial would incur further expense in what is already a high cost case. (e) There has been unprecedented media coverage and commentary and an associated high level of public interest in the case both during and after the trial. The post trial publicity may well affect the fairness of any re- trial . 6. Having taken the public interest into account, the panel referred the matter to the Acting Solicitor General for consideration of a stay of proceedings. The Auckland Crown Solicitor's Office has been advised that the Attorney-General has stayed the proceeding based upon that reference. A copy of the stay is attached to this memorandum. 7. Accordingly, there will not be a re-trial in respect of count 1 and the matter can now proceed to sentencing on 24 May 2012. Dated at Auckland this 9th day of May 2012. Signature: A R Burns Counsel for the Crown

ENDS


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