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New Zealand goes soppy – Britain goes hard

Media Release:

6th November 2008

New Zealand goes soppy – Britain goes hard

“The paramount consideration in every sentencing decision is the safety of the community and the reduction in crime,” said England’s most senior Judge.

“If I had my way I would release you today.” Christchurch District Court Judge tells sex-offender.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust points to the hardening of Judges attitudes in Britain while some New Zealand Judges seem to be still immersed in the liberal mire of a disastrous politically-correct experiment.

“Criminals should be "frightened" of going to court,” the most senior judge in England and Wales has said, while Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish was visibly upset when she told a teenager convicted of punching and kicking and attempting to rape a young woman that “If I had my way I would release you today.”

19 year old Maia Crawford Rongonui had amassed 16 previous convictions over a five month period. A jury heard how Rongonui had punched and kicked the young woman and attempted to remove her pants. The woman was able to escape but semen from Rongonui was found on her clothing. Rongonui was found guilty and sentenced to four years jail [able to apply for parole at 1/3] and the Judge said she hoped the Parole Board would soon consider his release to his family.

Sensible Sentencing Trust Spokesman Garth McVicar said Judge Farish’s attitude was in stark contrast to that of the Chief Justice of England and Wales.

In his first criminal justice speech since taking over as Lord Chief Justice last month, Lord Judge of Draycote said: "The guilty defendant should always be frightened of the prospect of going to court."

"The objective of the sentence is to do justice appropriate to the individual who has committed the particular crime or crimes in the light, not only of its impact on the community at large, but also the direct consequences for the victims."

His comments echo a speech from Justice Secretary Jack Straw last week, who insisted that punishing criminals must be the main factor in guiding sentencing policy.

Lord Judge also used the speech to the University of Hertfordshire to stress that judges must be free from political pressures when sentencing offenders.

Praising the "the cold neutrality of the impartial judge", he said: "The overwhelming beneficiary of the principle is the community.

"If the judge is subjected to any pressure, even unconscious pressure, his judgment is flawed, and justice is tarnished."

"The problem is that we have a Government which won't play its part. Judges hand down their sentences, but when Ministers then release prisoners’ early, public confidence in justice is undermined."

McVicar said Judges in New Zealand are continually put under political pressure, “As a result New Zealand is continuing to wallow in the liberal mire and public confidence in the justice system has been destroyed.” ENDS


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