New Zealanders are reminded they have a two-tier justice system which again favours the families of the rich, famous and influential.
The name of a teenager caught for drink driving in Gisborne is to be suppressed so as not to embarrass his “prominent leader” father. Furthermore, according to Stuff, he will apply for a discharge without conviction (interestingly, that latter part was notably missing from a NZ Herald report, which suggests the leader may be a politician).
The case was moved from Gisborne and heard in Auckland in a effort to avoid further publicity, and presumably links back to prominent families in Gisborne.
Update: John Banks
The case was reported on by Laudafinem.com Like Father Like Son: The Story Of Another Of New Zealands Unwarranted Politically Wangled Name Suppressions, which has photographs of the young offender.
The following paragraphs are taken from a much longer article on the site and we urge you to read the whole piece to get a feeling for the machinations that go on within the corridors of power in New Zealand.
Here we have yet another case of “only in New Zealand” justice. LF have known the youths identity since he was first arrested, but we’ve been sitting and waiting for the Kiwi MSM to appeal the completely unwarranted name suppression granted to a very politically well connected youth. The story started in the small East Cape shit-hole of Gisborne. The town that lays claim to being New Zealands most easterly point and first to see the sun.
Gisborne can also lay claim to being New Zealands most corrupt town, thanks to its notorious police force and the bent cops that have been stationed there over the past four decades. In fact its the towns reputation for corruption that undoubtedly saw the aforementioned youths defense team successfully, and somewhat unusually, have the trial transferred out of the district and relocated to Auckland…The media of course did question the sudden transfer, but being as thick as the local cops, and not particularly good students of history weren’t able to put the pieces together….
“…LF however have assets in Gisborne who reported, at the time of his arrest, that the youth in question was a young army recruit, who had been in Gisborne when caught driving, whilst well over the limit, by the local plods. No doubt the local coal face cops responsible, and Jeremy Muirs shyte sheet, the Gisborne Herald, would have been rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of hanging a senior politicians pisshead son out to dry; but alas it was not to be, largely thanks to Gisbornes reputation, and that of its daily newspaper, the Gisborne Herald and their bad habit of prejudicing trials…
The fact is that the youth arrested in Gisborne for drink driving (D.I.C) is the adopted son of John Banks, ex Government Minister and close political ally of Prime Minister John Key. Of course thats how it was when the young bloke was first arrested in October last year. But things had changed a little by the time Amy Maas (she’s always a late arrival at parties), had eventually got around to writing her story, three months later, on the 8th December 2013.
So just why was it that it took Fairfax three months to report on the arrest and charges? Well far be it for LF to appear cynical, but the likely reason is that, somewhat ironically, the accused had yet to be granted name suppression. LF knows for a fact that both Fairfax and APN were aware of the arrest and charges in October, so one doesn’t have to think to hard when coming up with theories as to why it was that neither paper published the story in October…” read the full story at source
Fathers accepting responsibility for their son’s actions
In October 2010 John Banks appeared at the inquest into the death of 16 year old Kings College student James Webster. James had left an 18th birthday party at the Grey Lynn RSL to drink with a group of mates in a car. His father later wrote on a tribute site
“Why can a 16-year-old get so intoxicated without one of his mates realising and doing something about it? It is far too late to point fingers, but it is not too late to learn a lesson.”
Bizarrely, Banks was at the inquest to “support his son” who was giving evidence. His son had previously testified that he’d encouraged James to drink because he’d thought it “fun at the time.” A tearful John Banks read a statment to the court after Alexander’s hour long appearance on the witness stand. He was quoted as saying “we must teach our son’s what’s right” and he had to accept responsibility for his son’s actions because “that’s what a father should do.” Young Alex had shared his bottle of Jaegermeister with James, who was also consuming Vodka.
But what about making a young man take responsibility for his own actions? There’s little chance of that when an influential daddy is following close behind with a well paid salvage team.
John Banks is to stand a judge-alone trial in May charged with knowingly filing a false electoral return for his 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign. He’s accused of covering up a $50,000 donation from Kim Dotcom, by asking for it to be split into 2 anonymous donations.
Banks has gone on record as saying he isn’t bothered about the prosecution because (emphasis ours)
“Everyone who knows me knows I’ve spent a lifetime of doing good, a lifetime of trying to balance my family ledger, a lifetime of making a difference to people and a lifetime of contributing to this country,” he said.
“I only do good. I don’t do bad things.”
This is what Stuff had to say about the teen drinking and driving conviction
Teen wants off hook because of famous dad
The teenager pleaded guilty to driving with excess breath alcohol in the Auckland District Court last week, but will apply for a discharge without conviction.
He was originally charged in Gisborne in October after being caught driving while nearly twice the legal drink driving limit.
It is not clear why his case is now being heard in Auckland.
The teenager’s lawyer, Paul Wicks, applied for interim name suppression claiming that if his client was named in the media it would have “extreme consequences for his father” who is a public figure...
It is worth noting here that the drink drive limit for under 20s in New Zealand is zero (source).
The 18 year old teen was caught with a breath alcohol reading of 761mcg on 20 October 2013 (source) and the limit for drivers over 20 is 400mcg.
Presently, the right wing, National led government is pushing through new legislation to lower the drink-drive limit to 250 mcg, almost half the present level. A week ago, just before the drink-driving case was heard in Auckland, the Land Transport Amendment Bill 2013 passed its first reading and is now with a select committee for public submissions. Some say (including NZ First) that its penalties are too lenient and that the proposed interim measures are weak and will encourage drivers to drink to the previous limit of 400mcg.
According to a report in the NZ Herald
“A teenager described as the son of a prominent leader in this country has been given interim name suppression over a drink-driving charge.
Lawyer Paul Wicks convinced the Auckland District Court that revealing the young man’s identity would mean extreme consequences for his father…”
Name suppression is frequently given to offenders in New Zealand so that they may continue to practice their chosen careers (e.g. the comedian who groped his child, the rap artist who sexually assaulted a teen on the street, the high ranking police officer who beat his kid, the doctor convicted of child porn offences, the teachers who could embarrass their schools) but this is the first time we’ve heard of a person being granted name suppression and applying for a discharge because of the embarrassment it may cause their father.
We think this would be a good opportunity for the “prominent father” to show some true leadership.
He could use his son’s transgressions as an opportunity to engage in a debate about teen drinking in New Zealand, not try to sweep it under the carpet in case it damages his reputation, or weakens his position on the Land Transport Amendment Bill.
This is an issue which affects many families in New Zealand, why not hold his hand up and say “I’ve been there too and this is what we should be/are doing about it”?
Maybe if the father had some backbone, the son would have too?
“Auckland-based specialist drink drive lawyer Stuart Blake said it was uncommon for people on drink driving charges to seek name suppression.
“Name suppression is normally appropriate in cases where publishing the defendant’s name would likely cause undue hardship to a victim, endanger a person’s safety, create a real risk of prejudicing a fair trial or that it might cause extreme hardship to the defendant and or his family,” he said.
Blake said in cases such as these there was normally no risk of endangering a person’s safety and because most matters were dealt with by judge alone, there was little risk of prejudice to a fair trial.
He added that he advised his clients that pursuing name suppression – especially for a charge of drink driving where it was uncommon – could elicit the scrutiny they wanted to avoid in the first place.
“It’s human nature, when we’re told we are not allowed to know something we instantly want to know what the secret is.”… Stuff.co.nz
Stuff then went on to remind its readers of some other name suppression/discharge without conviction cases:
“Earlier this year, a judge’s decision to discharge and grant name suppression to polocrosse player Casey Anne Mullany, 29, was widely criticised. Mullany, who has played for New Zealand internationally, was originally discharged and allowed to keep her name secret on the basis that a conviction could affect her ability to compete overseas.
Police appealed the decision and it was overturned in the High Court last month. Mullany was disqualified from driving from six months and name suppression was overturned.
A range of high-profile New Zealanders, such as actor Robyn Malcolm and Colin Carruthers, QC, had been named after drink-driving offences.” source
We covered the Casey Anne Mullany incident, she too was from Gisborne. Gisborne Sportswoman Case: Police were “let down by the system and a weak judge”
An ex-police officer has criticised the judicial system in New Zealand after a Kiwi judge discharged a sportswoman from a DUI charge and gave her permanent name suppression.
The sportswoman, who had twice the adult legal amount of alcohol in her system when caught drink driving, was given name suppression partly because of the effect a DUI rap would have on her ability to compete abroad… more
Drink drive girl, 13, crashes stolen car – youngest DUI this year caught in Penrose, Auckland
Prominent leader’s son given interim name suppression (nzherald.co.nz)
Teen wants off hook because of famous dad (stuff.co.nz)
Drink-driving sportswoman named (nzherald.co.nz)