Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: In another league

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  • dc_red,

    The dubious qualities of the mad butcher aside ... what I've heard in the press suggests this prosecution was a complete farce. I'm just a bit surprised it took so long for the jury to reach the verdicts it did.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    It was the District Court, ow.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    D'oh. Thank you Robyn. Corrected.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The dubious qualities of the mad butcher aside ... what I've heard in the press suggests this prosecution was a complete farce.

    I completely disagree. I thought there would be a not-guilty verdict -- although I'm a little surprised there wasn't a conviction on the assault captured on the indoor security camera. There were problems with the complainant (juries do tend to distrust the evidence of drunk and drugged people), conflicting evidence from witnesses, conflicting medical opinions on the genital injuries, etc.

    But I've no doubt there was a case to answer, and that the police had to bring it . His family members who screamed abuse at the police can fuck off.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    But I've no doubt there was a case to answer, and that the police had to bring it . His family members who screamed abuse at the police can fuck off.

    You bet, and you bet. I'm amazed a judge would put up with that without giving the arsehole involved some time in a cell to ponder what a wanker he is.

    Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Wammo,

    His family members who screamed abuse at the police can fuck off

    I agree. Of course the innocent should be found innocent and justice should run its course, but I have faith that you don't end up in the dock answering obscene charges unless you're of questionable character.

    What does it take to get on the Mad Butcher's BBQ invite list?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I think a panels of judges would be more appropriate in cases like this.
    The jury is the shack of the dice.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    The interview with His lawyer, Gary Gottleib and the police this evening on Close Up was pretty interesting.

    Gottleib asked the officer when the relative police unit was set up and the cop answered a week or so before the incident: the obvious implication being sought from Gottleib being that Ropati was a "trophy scalp" being used to kick things off nicely for the unit.

    He also pointed out that in terms of the actual evidence, it comes down to consent. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like the complainant may simply have been too wasted to recall that she had given consent. (He then outlined how much and for how long she'd been bashing the booze / drugs before Ropati turned up).
    Don't get me wrong, rape is a heinous crime, but the jury has to go on the actual evidence, which appears to be a bit too insubstantial and contradictory to get a guilty verdict.

    His supporters should have acted with a bit of decorum, too, I agree.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The interview with His lawyer, Gary Gottleib and the police this evening on Close Up was pretty interesting.

    Gottleib's a good defence lawyer. I agreed to write a letter of support for a client of his once, and was promptly provided with a letter to sign that, let's say, somewhat overstated the subject's virtues.

    I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like the complainant may simply have been too wasted to recall that she had given consent.

    Which will have been enough to provide doubt. It was still worth trying, and I still think the whole thing was sordid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    <i>I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was something like the complainant may simply have been too wasted to recall that she had given consent.</i>

    Yeah - maybe the defendant just figured that kicking her out of his car with bruised genitalia at a public park , so wasted apparently that she couldn't be assumed capable of finding her way home, was what his various celeb character witnesses would expect an all-round great bloke to do. Nothing to see here folks, how dare they prosecute...

    Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Zippy Gonzales,

    There were problems with the complainant (juries do tend to distrust the evidence of drunk and drugged people), conflicting evidence from witnesses, conflicting medical opinions on the genital injuries, etc.

    Damned straight. One time, the old man defended an alleged rapist. I remember it because Trev would tell anyone with ears that "my client refuses name suppression on the grounds that he wants the newspapers to put his name in bold type with the victim's statement 'I had to use both hands to put it in'."

    OK, the old man's case was not as filthy as this one, but the principle remains. If one drinks oneself into a stupor with strangers, it's on your own head.

    Whatever your poison, never underestimate the importance of set and setting.

    Gottleib's a good defence lawyer. I agreed to write a letter of support for a client of his once, and was promptly provided with a letter to sign that, let's say, somewhat overstated the subject's virtues.

    My dear fellow, that's what lawyers DO. Their function is to portray their client in the most favourable light. Gottlieb is a brilliant lawyer, which is why Ropati is walking in light.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 186 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    I always think that giving consent is an active process. So, if a complaint is:

    so wasted apparently that she couldn't be assumed capable of finding her way home

    then she also could not have been capable of giving consent.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    That was my impression as well Deborah - from the little I heard I think he got off because (among other things) they couldn't be sure that the complainant hadn't given consent, but forgotten it.

    OK, the old man's case was not as filthy as this one, but the principle remains. If one drinks oneself into a stupor with strangers, it's on your own head.

    One would hope that if I saw someone completely smashed and took advantage of that without them giving consent, it would be on my head actually.

    Barely unconscious and not capable of understanding what's going on doesn't equal "yes".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I'm with Deborah - not really sure that consent is possible when one is that intoxicated. Whatever way you look at it, though, did anyone else look at his wife with their wee baby on her hip, and feel uneasy? He had sex with a drunk woman, maybe nonconsensually not that long ago, and here's his young blonde wife with a baby only a few months old, and she's smiling at him, holding his hand...........I know that when times get tough, all else gets pushed aside while the battle is being fought, but still.........

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The interview on Morning Report today was pretty bizarre.

    Sean Plunket rounded on the police sergeant and softballed Gotlieb. He actually asked Gotlieb whether he thought there should be a law change as a result of the case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    A law change - sounds good to me. What about if a person is drunk, then the onus is on the other person to show he or she had reasonable grounds to believe the first person had consented.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    I don't wish to appear to be defending Ropati in any way here as I think even his admitted actions were apalling.

    But it has to be pointed out that there are substantial numbers of people of both sexes in NZ who consider getting utterly munted then having a shag as a successful night out. What would constitute "reasonable grounds" for belief that the other person had consented? That again seems extremely vague, but with the burden of proof shifted onto the accused. That rather violates the presumption of innocence, no?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Deborah - I think they were both drunk weren't they? And the woman was possibly so drunk that there'd be no way she could show she had reasonable grounds to believe Ropati consented ... maybe we'd find them both guilty under your law change?

    Any test where people have to prove themselves innocent is going to convict a hell of a lot of innocent people.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    I have only heard Plunket once this year. But Russell's comment and that hearing suggests to me that he's going a bit feavourish again. Can anyone confirm this or reassure me this is not the case?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Well, isn't that sort of what the police investigation is about? They decide that there's a case to answer based on reasonable belief that a crime was committed by that guy. It's not like every single drunken bad experience ends up in court. Nowhere near. It takes a hell of a lot of encouragement to get women to come forward even when it's really obvious that something bad has happened. A stack of women chalk it up to experience and try & forget about it (& don't leave the house for six weeks).

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Broadly, there are two ways to defend yourself against a rape charge. One is to say that it never took place and the other is to say that yes, we had sex, but she (or sometimes he) consented.

    So if you are going to claim consent, then you should be able to say on what grounds you believed consent was given, and those grounds ought to be able to stand up to a reasonable person test.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Deborah - yes. But the way the guilty beyond reasonable doubt thing seems to work, is that the jury is invited to acquit if there's any possibility that the woman (or sometimes man) consented. And some of the weird things that people, judges or jury, think about how women should behave around strange men, mean that standards that work ok for burglary or assault convictions are functionally useless for these kind of cases.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    There is a reasonable person test. If Police can prove that a reasonable person would not have believed there was consent, then there's a conviction.

    if you are going to claim consent, then you should be able to say on what grounds you believed consent was given

    Something the woman in this case would be unable to do. Now she wouldn't be charged, but setting up a law that would prevent her defending herself if someone did doesn't seem like a great idea.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'm just a bit surprised it took so long for the jury to reach the verdicts it did.

    Well, I find it rather encouraging. Suggests to me that in a sex crime case, the jurors didn't pull a Corbett, decide the complainant was a skanky whore who deserved everything she got, and took a few minutes to carefully consider all the evidence. (Obviously, the came to the conclusion that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.) You know, do what juries are supposed to do.

    I have only heard Plunket once this year. But Russell's comment and that hearing suggests to me that he's going a bit feavourish again. Can anyone confirm this or reassure me this is not the case?

    A bit of both -- ITA agree with Russell that interview was weird. But even Saint Geoff Robinson (whose blood is the most efficient sedative known to man) has his off days. When Geoff gets into fawn-mode the sucking noises are awe-inspiring. :)

    Whatever way you look at it, though, did anyone else look at his wife with their wee baby on her hip, and feel uneasy?

    To put it mildly, Jackie. In her position, I'd have fronted to court but not cuddled up for the media. Sorry for sounding like an old fogey, but if I found out my partner was trolling for sex in bars while drunk, I'd not only be moving out but getting an STD screen. FUI offenders aren't the most careful practitioners of safer sex. And the time they get caught out is seldom the first offence.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    So if you are going to claim consent, then you should be able to say on what grounds you believed consent was given, and those grounds ought to be able to stand up to a reasonable person test.

    I don't know if that'd be particularly effective. I've been thinking about this a bit recently; in particular the issue of character witnesses and the like.

    Rather than putting the onus on the (innocent till yadda yadda) defendant, which I admit would be extremely problematic in the long run, how about some kind of prelim to establish that a rape has occurred? Basically, it's never been the onus of a murder victim to prove that they're actually dead, or a burglary victim to prove that their locks got busted; so a rape trial is not the place to have to prove that a woman was actually raped.

    So, in the bulk of cases where the woman is in that all-too-common high-risk / low-cred bracket (y'know, sexually active, alcohol/drugs involved, or mental illness, or low socioec, and/or has been hiding in her house for six weeks so there's no evidence left), you have a prelim to assert that the woman is behaving consistently with having been raped - get her a counsellor or a psychologist, talk with her friends; as well as establishing the extent of her trauma, it's a good opportunity to provide & inform a support network.

    I assume the police investigation establishes some of this, but the info isn't admissible. So make it a formal process with a controlled portion of that information made available to the jury. Then it stops being about the victim trying to prove she's not a liar, and focusses on who did it & whether they're culpable.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

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