Bail conditions must be reviewed before more innocents die
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind
From Blowin’ in the wind. Bob Dylan
The Sensible Sentencing Trust want to know how many
deaths it will take before Bail conditions in New Zealand
are reviewed and tightened?
A fatal crash caused by an unlicensed driver who was found to have traces of cannabis and alcohol in his system would not have happened if he had adhered to his probation conditions.
In the early hours of August 29, Charles Te Popoki Ngamotu was in New Plymouth driving a car carrying three passengers: 22-year-old Casey Wilson-Atutahi, a 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old male. However, the 31-year-old was meant to be in Wellington where he had been bailed to an address with a curfew of 10pm to 6am.
Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST)
Public awareness and Education spokesperson Jock Jamieson
says with the New Zealand road toll climbing ever higher it
is time to make an example of those who flout the law
causing the death of innocent people.
“In breach of his bail conditions, Ngamotu was in a different town. The learners licence he once had expired five years earlier and he was driving with traces of THC in his system. He crashed the speeding car killing one passenger and severely injuring two others. Ngamotus’ behaviour shattered the lives of one family and traumatised two others. The total harm he caused cannot be underestimated but our justice system doesn’t seem to care."
Ngamotu pleaded guilty to driving dangerously causing death, two counts of driving dangerously causing injury, and a breach of standard or special conditions set by Corrections.
Judge Stephen Harrop sentenced Ngamotu to two years and six months' jail and further disqualified him from driving for four years. He described the crash as a tragedy. Not only had it taken a life, changed the life of the two teen victims and affected many families, but Ngamotu was too a victim, he said. As a result of the crash, Ngamotu sustained a traumatic brain injury and fractured ribs. He continued to suffer nightmares and panic attacks. "On top of that you have suffered the consequence, which you will for the rest of your life, knowing what you have caused," he said. "The emotional harm that you've suffered as a result of being the driver responsible for this shouldn't be underestimated."
Jock Jamieson says this sentence is not adequate, saying
instead Ngamotu and many others like him should be held
fully responsible and accountable for the harm they cause,
or nothing will change.
“Excuses don’t count and when Judge Harrop declared that the offender was also a victim it’s was slap in the face for the affected families. Ngamotu had a choice, his victims did not. Ngamotu breached his bail conditions and killed someone for his reckless behaviour, there should have been at least a charge of manslaughter”
Jock says there is a major concern around bail and the follow up of those on bail conditions, and says an urgent review needs to be carried out as to how we can better monitor those on release conditions.
“We have seen too many incidents happen causing innocent victims’ grief and tragedy from those who are not adhering to their bail conditions. How are they going under the radar so often, do Corrections need more resources or is there simply a communication breakdown within our government agencies? Whatever it is we cannot ignore it is happening and we must hold those to account who choose to break their conditions!”