Macdonald: A catalyst for law change?
Thu, 02 Aug 2012 6:19p.m.
By Dan Parker
The Sensible Sentencing Trust wants Scott Guy’s murder to be a catalyst for a law change, which would see juries given all available evidence about the accused and for the powers of suppression orders to be significantly reduced.
It follows revelations about Ewen Macdonald’s criminal behaviour in the years leading up to Mr Guy’s death – criminal behaviour that was kept secret from the jury.
The reason three charges against Macdonald were suppressed by Justice Simon France was to ensure he received a fair trial.
“The issues judges weigh up every day are what evidence is relevant, what does it prove, is that relevant to the issues we have to consider in this case,” says suppression expert Steve Bonnar.
In Macdonald’s case, the concern was the charges would unfairly prejudice the murder trial and weren’t related to case.
But the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s Garth McVicar says they helped establish a pattern of serious offending and the jury should have been privy.
“Nothing is prejudicial about the truth and that is where I believe our justice system has gone way off track,” says Mr McVicar. “I think our judges are partly responsible, because we have allowed suppression orders to happen and we have allowed a criminal-centred, offender-friendly legal process where it is all about the offender.”
What the jury wasn’t allowed to know was that Macdonald had slaughtered 19 calves with a hammer, in an act of revenge against fellow farmer Paul Barber.
He had also ruined $10,000 worth of Nigel Sexton’s milk by emptying a vat in the middle of the night. He then set fire to a building on his farm.
Speaking to Firstline this morning Mr Sexton said that too was an act of revenge, after he caught Macdonald poaching his stags.
“I said, ‘Why did you do it?’ He said, ‘Because I thought it was fun, because I could do it.' I couldn’t believe him.”
Mr Sexton said Macdonald never apologised.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust is now lobbying the Government to allow juries to hear about an accused’s prior convictions. But Justice Minister Judith Collins says it would be a major upheaval to the system.
“I don’t believe there is a great political will to change it,” she says. “The system we have is not perfect, but it is significantly better than most.”
Macdonald will be sentenced next month on all six charges relating to arson, theft and criminal damage.
Ewen Macdonald’s list of offending:
Ewen Macdonald’s police interviews:
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15/09/2012 5:03:24 p.m.
It is ludicrous that relevant evidence was withheld from the jury and that the accused was not able to be cross examined on the stand. Decisions should be made on all the facts. If testimony shows this man creeps around at night wreaking acts of vengeance and violence, then this is relevant! Also why were charges of animal cruelty not laid. He should have to pay reparation no question, for the rest of his life, or until he's paid it back whichever comes first. No wonder he's smiling!
4/08/2012 8:44:44 a.m.
Why shouldn't juries hear evidence that shows the character of a person? If we allow "character witnesses" to show the good sides of a person it is fair and just to let the jury have the whole story. Especially when they are deciding the fate of a person. In the interests of this the accused should be made to take the stand under oath regardless of any previous police interview video being shown. If I were on that jury I would want to hear what that person had to say, to the prosecution and the defence, when faced with deciding whether they are guilty or innocent.
3/08/2012 9:44:31 p.m.
Judith Collins, ask Kylee Guy what she thinks of our legal system. Ask the fatherless boys in a few years time. We see Greg King on our TV playing with his kids. Did he not think about the two wee boys whose Dad will never laugh and play with them.
The Right to silence is a corrupt system, favoring and protecting the criminal and allowing them to go free.
What would the view of Judith Collins be if it were her husband lying in the Cemetary.
This whole case has got a bad smell to it, just as the criminal court system has in NZ.
A man capable of all the above is capable of anything, and I wonder how his wife didn't know, or did she?
3/08/2012 2:36:33 p.m.
Gary, you suggest the possibility of mistaken identity? Have you really thought this through? If directed at Mcdonald as an act of revenge and therefore premeditated, I am sure the killer would have done some research on where Mcdonald lived, what he drove, his daily routine, etc. And then to steal the puppies that did not even belong to Ewen Mcdonald? THINK MAN!
Mcdonald was as meticulous in carrying out the murder of Scott Guy, as he was in carrying out all of his 'missions'.
The police actually gather the evidence and the prosecution presents it. The lack of evidence is surely indicative of the meticulous planning of this murder, not proof of police inadequacies.
I agree with Tim wholeheartedly. If I was to agree with Greg King, that Mcdonald is just a "typical kiwi bloke"
half of the population would be in prison with Mcdonald (plus a tiny minority of woman, not to be sexist)
What alot of people fail to realize is that sociopaths do not have a conscience. Do not be fooled by their tears, they are only for themselves.
3/08/2012 1:46:23 p.m.
I cant add any more than GARY and TIM to this, than what they have have already said, they hit the nail right on the head.
I will say, however, that we dont need knee jerk legislation.
Garth McVicar and his ilk wont be happy untill we have a total police state, where one can be imprisoned for years on police suspicion, beaten daily, and fed on bread and water.
3/08/2012 10:02:14 a.m.
Mr McVicar needs to educate himself more and understand the justice system. Everyone has the right to a fair trial. The other incidents are totally separate to the murder trial and would influence the jury as it did with the Police and the Media, they put 2&2 together and got 7. If the Police can not find evidence to prove this then he has not done it. If the Police will not look at this again with an open mind that is unjust. The Police came to the conclusion based on the other incidents that he was the killer, then tried to make the evidence fit the person (very wrong), it did not, so he was not the person that killed him. These other incidents do show that there would be some with real motive to want to kill Ewan Macdonald and it could have been a case of mistaken identity - shot the wrong person?? How ever you look at it, lets say he is the killer then the Police have done a poor job to present the evidence, and since he is not the killer the police have done a poor job collecting the evidence. Either way the killer is free because a bad job was done not because the justice system is wrong!
3/08/2012 9:56:12 a.m.
Quite extraordinary how Garth McVicar can campaign for law and order and know so little about it !
3/08/2012 5:25:32 a.m.
I'm not generally a supporter of Mr McVicar, but if a jury can't be given all of the truth - and draw their own conclusions about semi-psychotic behaviour, then what is going on? If I were a juror only now learning of a confession to hitting calves on the head with hammers, I think my stomach might be churning. I doesn't prove anything, but it does add to the whole of what is presented by the prosecution, and it has been admitted!
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