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ACT Opposes Provocation Repeal Bill

ACT Opposes Provocation Repeal Bill

David Garrett MP, ACT New Zealand
Wednesday, November 25 2009

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman David Garrett today reiterated ACT's opposition to the Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Bill until such time as alternative defences – such as diminished responsibility – are put into law.

"This would ensure that mitigating circumstances are taken into account when individuals are on trial, as advocated by the New Zealand Law Society and senior prosecutors," Mr Garrett said.

"If successful, the partial defence of provocation reduces 'charged with murder' to 'guilty of manslaughter'. This defence is open to both men and women and – contrary to recent claims – victim's sexual orientation is irrelevant. It is not – and never has been – a 'gay panic' defence.

"This defence was recently highlighted when Clayton Weatherston attempted to use provocation as a defence, but failed. This failure shows that the defence is working, and still has a place in the 21st century.

"Had provocation as a defence been repealed, however, Weatherston could have raised it at sentencing - causing exactly the same distress to Sophie Elliot's family as he did in the trial itself. Arguably it would have been worse, as the Elliot family would have had to undergo two separate ordeals at Weatherston's hands.

"Arguments for a repeal of the defence are weak, at best. It should be a jury of one's peers – not a judge – that decides whether the defence is justified," Mr Garrett said.

ENDS

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