Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Angry and thrilled about Arie

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  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Where is the apology? I see the charges are dropped but all I can say at this point is,
    well about fucking time!.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6010 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I think The Press' headline is... unfortunate. Looter. Really?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2936 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    David Clarkson's Christchurch Court News has a good report.

    Defence counsel Jonathan Eaton said the case had not been carefully or closely scrutinised.

    “If there is a lesson to be learnt out of this case, it is that we just can’t put everyone in the same box,” said Eaton. “Things got a little lost in the system. It was treated as just another earthquake case. There was no careful or close scrutiny of the case.”

    Eaton said Smith-Voorkamp now had no interest in pursuing an early allegation that he had been assaulted by the police at the time of his arrest. Film at the time showed him with a black eye.

    “During the trauma of the arrest he wasn’t exactly sure how that had occurred. It is not an issue he has formally pursued or has any interest in pursuing.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I think The Press’ headline is… unfortunate. Looter. Really?

    Yup. I really don't know what part of "alleged" or the whole trivial distinction between a charge and a conviction is so bloody challenging, but I've given up expecting better.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11867 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I think The Press’ headline is… unfortunate. Looter. Really?

    Already changed to: All charges dropped against autistic man.

    There’s now also a short video interview with an understandably stunned Arie.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    TNVZ and the Herald still refer to looter as at 1-53pm.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Already changed to: All charges dropped against autistic man

    Only at new story linked from home page. Headline seems unchanged on original story.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Herald story is interesting (and yes, still headlined "looter").

    In a statement issued this afternoon, police said the long process of constructing a psychiatric report on Mr Smith-Voorkamp was to blame for the six-month legal battle.

    Superintendent Dave Cliff, who was Canterbury district commander at the time of Mr Smith-Voorkamp's arrest, said the independent report was received last Thursday.
    ...

    Mr Smith-Voorkamp also alleged he was assaulted at the time of his arrest after he was photographed with a black eye at his first appearance in a makeshift court in February.

    Mr Davis [Arie's partner Michael] said Mr Smith-Voorkamp was elbowed in the face by police.

    Mr Cliff said Mr Smith-Voorkamp received "a bang to the side of the head" and accused him and Mr Davis of being intoxicated.

    "After initially running from police, the men were not compliant and were forced to the ground to be handcuffed. Mr Smith-Voorkamp had a bang to the side of his face. The pair were affected by alcohol and potentially drugs at the time of arrest."

    Mr Cliff said it would have been inappropriate to give Mr Smith-Voorkamp diversion as he did not accept responsibility for his actions due to his defence of mental impairment.

    "It is inappropriate to use Diversion as a tool for dealing with people who may have a defence to the charge."

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Regardless of the official spin, I still wonder about the role of the public interest, Police HQ and the minister's office in all of this. I think it is a victory for sustained community vigilance.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2030 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    So how true was the rumour of Collins stepping in? Will we ever know? Doubt it.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6010 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    From the Herald story:

    Mr Cliff said Mr Smith-Voorkamp received “a bang to the side of the head” and accused him and Mr Davis of being intoxicated.

    “After initially running from police, the men were not compliant and were forced to the ground to be handcuffed. Mr Smith-Voorkamp had a bang to the side of his face. The pair were affected by alcohol and potentially drugs at the time of arrest.”

    Interesting time to suddenly pull out that claim.

    Mr Cliff said it would have been inappropriate to give Mr Smith-Voorkamp diversion as he did not accept responsibility for his actions due to his defence of mental impairment.

    This is an out-and-out lie.

    Here’s the Herald story of March 28:

    The police are considering whether Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp, 25, should be granted diversion, which allows first offenders to avoid a criminal conviction if they admit the offence and make amends.

    Smith-Voorkamp, who has autism, pleaded guilty to burglary and possession of equipment for burglary when he appeared in the Christchurch District Court held in the Rangiora Court House today.

    He pleaded guilty, and was not pursuing an assault complaint. Senior officers, for whatever twisted reason, decided they wanted to punish him further.

    And what are they saying? They'd have granted diversion had he pretended not to be autistic? Bastards.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    liars. and these pricks are supposed to be upholding the law. what a disgusting farce.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 630 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Honestly, just how hard is it for these people to put out a politely-worded 'yeah, we totally fucked up this whole thing'?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3628 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The Police statement:

    "The Police Adult Diversion Scheme is a mechanism that allows for some offenders to be dealt with ‘out of Court’ and without receiving a conviction. There are criteria which need to be met before a charge can be dealt with by Diversion. This includes that there is sufficient evidence to prove the charges and it is in the public interest for the matter to be prosecuted and the offender accepts responsibility. Therefore, when there are issues of intellectual impairment which may offer a defence, the Diversion criteria are not met. It is inappropriate to use Diversion as a tool for dealing with people who may have a defence to the charge."

    Short version: We'd have granted diversion if only he hadn't been autistic.

    Is there a lawyer who can comment on this twisted reasoning?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Is there a lawyer who can comment on this twisted reasoning?

    The reasoning seems fair. Although that’s not how it works in practice. Plenty of innocent people accept diversion because going through the court process is too expensive or risky.

    People who are innocent should not be diverted. They should be acquitted.

    People who should never have been charged (e.g. because a charge is not in the public interest) should not be diverted. They should have the charges withdrawn.

    Diversion should be for people who are guilty, and who should have been charged, but for whom it is a first time in the criminal justice system and are unlikely to be there again, this serving as a salutary warning about breaking the law.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2996 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Diversion should be for people who are guilty

    But he pleaded guilty, as Russell notes above.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We'd have granted diversion if only he hadn't been autistic.

    As we discussed upthread, I suspect ignorant assumptions about capacity to accept responsibility come into this.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    People who should never have been charged (e.g. because a charge is not in the public interest) should not be diverted. They should have the charges withdrawn.

    Which the police were at liberty to do at any point. Instead, they doubled down and were granted a non-association order by the same judge who granted bail after he’d been imprisoned for 10 days. That seems a bloody odd way to act if they really believed he had a defence.

    It seems worth noting that the judges who repeatedly referred the case back for the police to consider diversion had a different view of the situation. I find it impossible to believe that the police were acting benignly in the circumstances.

    Edit: The police are also claiming it dragged on for months because it took them that long to compile a report establishing that he was autistic. My arse it did. That information was received by the court in March. It was the basis for his bail.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    But he pleaded guilty, as Russell notes above.

    As Graeme says, people who are innocent frequently plead guilty and receive diversion, sparing themselves the ordeal of a trial. I’d like to know what was so different in this case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Sacha,

    But he pleaded guilty, as Russell notes above.

    He also withdrew his guilty plea:

    Defence lawyer Jonathan Eaton today told Rangiora District Court today his client was withdrawing that plea.

    He argued Smith-Voorkamp's Asbergers Sydrome compels him to take light fixtures.

    Criminal intent was unlikely and the level of the offence didn't warrant the gravity of the situation, he said.

    Without criminal intent in such a situation, there is no crime, and diversion is inappropriate.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2996 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    We'd need to see a timeline about the refusal of diversion and the withdrawal of the plea, but I suspect they happened in that order.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which the police were at liberty to do at any point. Instead, they doubled down and were granted a non-association order by the same judge who granted bail after he’d been imprisoned for 10 days. That seems a bloody odd way to act if they really believed he had a defence.

    Possibly having a defence does not mean that defence will be accepted.

    At that stage, there are charges still outstanding, and it may be possible that a defence of whatever might not succeed. In the ordinary course, a non-association order with a co-accused isn't that unlikely.

    Edit: The police are also claiming it dragged on for months because it took them that long to compile a report establishing that he was autistic. My arse it did. That information was received by the court in March. It was the basis for his bail.

    Bail hearings are highly informal. A report of the level sufficient to see that bail would be appropriate is a much simpler one to get than one establishing a lack of criminal responsibility.

    That someone is autistic may be enough to get bail. A report establishing that that autism was of a nature to mean that a charge involving a certain level of criminal intent could not be proved is a different matter. It is also the practice that when looking at a final conclusion, not just one psych assessment will be enough, but two.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2996 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    We’d need to see a timeline about the refusal of diversion and the withdrawal of the plea, but I suspect they happened in that order.

    Yes, they did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yes, they did.

    Well, yes. If the police at the time didn't think he was impaired in a manner likely to provide a defence, why would they divert? Diversion would be very very unlikely for a burglary charge.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2996 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    At that stage, there are charges still outstanding, and it may be possible that a defence of whatever might not succeed. In the ordinary course, a non-association order with a co-accused isn’t that unlikely.

    When they are partners and live together?

    Arie was assaulted, deliberately subjected to a "perp walk" for the cameras, denied bail and separated from his partner for months. Police thumbed their noses at the judges who repeatedly referred the case for diversion.

    Then, when he learned of the Sunday report, Inspector Derek Erasmus personally called the building owners (the first time they had heard from the police or were aware their building was involved) and put pressure on them to call TVNZ and try and have the programme pulled. When that didn't work, he called Sunday's producers and threatened them -- warning that they were "under investigation" for some unspecified offence. It remained unspecified when the police announced they had concluded their "investigation" a couple of weeks ago.

    This was not acceptable police practice. Forgive me if I'm not buying their post-facto rationalisation today.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18711 posts Report Reply

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