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Crowd Yells "Shame" At Judge Holderness

"Shame" Cried The Crowd At Judge Holderness And The Court

It was a shameful day for justice in our garden city of Christchurch, as Neville Yates, a brain damaged amputee from an accident 30 years ago, was given 5 months jail for growing 9 spindly plants for his own medical use. " I am the only victim here" stated Neville Yates as he was led away to the police cells. " The law has been served but justice was not done" quoted Michael Britnell Deputy Leader, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Angry and upset supporters were ushered out of the court building by security guards as they protested in disbelief at the disastrous outcome for Neville Yates.

M.P. Tim Barnett had given evidence on the current position of the government. The Health Select Committee Report on Cannabis Recommendation 22 page 57 " We recommend to the government that it pursue the possibility of supporting the prescription of clinically tested cannabis products for medicinal purposes". which elicited the Government Response Document page 14 : 61"... A British Company GW Pharmaceuticals has in development a number of cannabis preparations for therapuetic use. The company has indicated it would be prepared to supply 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.". Neville Yates successfully had these documents admitted as evidence with no objections from the Prosecutor Mr. Ruane.

In summary what Neville Yates established to the court was that his quest for legitimate access was genuine, supported by letters from his doctors and that he had made submissions to that Health Select Committee and corresponded with Health Minister Annette King. However Prosecutor Mr. Ruane rebutted the legitimacy of growing cannabis in his cross examination of Tim Barnett, when he asked Tim about the Spray form of delivery. Mr. Ruane incorrectly concluded that, only the spray form would be legitimately prescribed by the doctors, therefore Neville would still be breaking the law. The fact is the whole herb as well as the spray is prescribed to medical users in California by G.W.Pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately the Defense was unable to counter this argument, without a material witness.

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Judge Holderness had an opportunity to give some mercy for this special case but instead of opening his mind and exercising justice to the tragic story that was unfolding before him, he decided to be guided by the letter of the law. In his summing up, The Judge criticised Neville for his "Not Guilty" plea and came to the incorrect conclusion that Neville had pleaded "Not Guilty" as a result of cannabis activist influences. The Judge was not interested in the real reasons Neville Yates was forced to plead "Not Guilty".

In pleading Not Guilty and calling expert witness Kevin O' Connell, Neville was able to establish that the Police description of his cultivation as hydroponic, mature and sophisticated was incorrect. It was vital for Neville to establish his 'offending' was at the lower end of the criminal scale, to have a lighter sentence imposed, if found guilty. He was also compelled to plead not guilty as he had already been to jail for cultivation and his only real chance of being found Not Guilty was to put his case before a Jury Trial. It is everyone's democratic right to do this and unfair of Judge Holderness to criticise Neville’s choice of plea by condemning him to two extra months imprisonment in our overcrowded jails, for exercising his right, to have the case against him properly tested, by the Jury Trial system.

Judge Holderness added insult to injury stating that because of his disabilities, Neville was not able to do community work. This again was another incorrect summation by the Judge that went against the probation report, which stated that Neville was capable of doing light duty community work as well as recommending a non custodial sentence. The Prosecution also had no objection to a non custodial sentence - so what happened to the Judge this day? Judge Holderness concluded that Neville was a recidivist offender and had not learned the lesson from his last imprisonment, to stop offending. Therefore he had no choice but to impose a prison sentence of 5 months jail stating he would have 'only got three months' if he had pleaded guilty. The Judge also criticised Neville's cannabis activist friends in the court, in particular Blair Anderson who in good faith acted as Neville's McKenzie friend. Surely Neville Yates has the right to have his choice of assistance and supporters, without it affecting the outcome. The Judge was there to rule on matters of law.

Neville Yates stated earlier on " There appears to be one law for the rich and a different one for the poor"

We the people are outraged at this miscarriage of justice. J ustice is sometimes blind but in this case it was just plain stupid . Neville Yates made a heroic stand for medicinal access of cannabis for his pain relief and deserves all the support that people can give him while he is in jail this Christmas.

Irinka Britnell, Secretary - Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

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