Got off incredibly lightly

March 19th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Tracey Chatterton at Dom Post reports:

A prominent Napier lawyer has admitted to carelessly driving into the car of lobbyist .

Defence lawyer , 65, collided with a car being driven by the Sensible Sentencing Trust chairman on July 26 last year.

McVicar, of Te Pohue, was driving the trust’s sponsored Hyundai on his way to a meeting about 5.50pm when the incident happened.

Hewat had been driving along the 100km/h-zoned Napier Rd, the Napier District Court was told today.

He drove into the driver’s door of McVicar’s car while turning right into Lawn Rd.

The impact spun McVicar’s car full-circle before it crashed into a power pole, bringing the power lines down.

Hewat parked his car about 75 metres away from the intersection and walked away from the scene.

You send another car into a power pole, bringing power lines down and you walk away?? I’m sorry but that is criminal.

McVicar, who was not injured, and another motorist found Hewat and brought him back to the scene.

Hewat left again only to be picked up by the police walking along Lawn Rd.

And after he was brought back, he again left the scene. And this is not a dumb 19 year old. This is a lawyer.

At the time Hewat told police he did not know he had collided with another vehicle.

Really? You did not notice the crash?

Appearing in the Napier District Court this morning, Hewat pleaded guilty to careless driving and failing to stop to ascertain whether anyone was injured.

He had intended to defend the charges but changed his plea to save the court time and money, his lawyer Roger Philip said.

Love to hear how he could defend them.

Mr Philip said Hewat was an experienced criminal lawyer who knew he was obliged to check if anyone was hurt. However, he was traumatised and confused from the impact.

‘‘Even today he can’t explain his actions,’’ Mr Philip said.

I think the word we are looking for is won’t, not can’t.

Hewat was fined $850, ordered to pay court costs and disqualified from driving for six months.

That’s an appallingly light sentence for twice fleeing the scene.

McVicar was next to a cyclist, and it would have been all too easy for her to have been killed if McVicar’s car had been pushed into her.

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61 Responses to “Got off incredibly lightly”

  1. tvb (4,229 comments) says:

    This is close to unprofessional conduct in my view especially the comment made when he attempted to mislead the Police. There may be a medical reason, of course, but that brings into question whether he should be driving.

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  2. southtop (262 comments) says:

    Tui Ad: One law for all

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  3. Keeping Stock (10,161 comments) says:

    I daresay that the Law Society will be taking a look at this, so Mr Hewat’s court appearance may be the least of his worries. As an officer of the Court, his conduct is not what should be expected of a member of the legal profession.

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  4. bringbackdemocracy (412 comments) says:

    Imagine what the liberal press would be saying if he had been a policeman.

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  5. kowtow (7,856 comments) says:

    The legal fraternity………

    nudge, nudge, wink ,wink.

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  6. Akaroa (552 comments) says:

    The legal fraternity! Gawd bless ‘em!!

    One could be forgiven for perhaps thinking “All mates together, eh”

    Neither legal party emerges with much kudos here!!

    (What did they think the man-in-the-street’s opinion might be?)

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  7. Mark (1,403 comments) says:

    And after he was brought back, he again left the scene. And this is not a dumb 19 year old. This is a lawyer.

    Ah but a dumb one. IF you put this in a slightly different context and imagine that this clown had driven into your kids car you would be more than a little outraged. One wonders why the police prosecutor has not appealed the sentence.

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  8. flipper (3,750 comments) says:

    Prima facie, DPF et al, you are correct. A ridiculous sentence.

    But….

    Such accidents are known to induce trauma (shock) in an apparently uninjured party. In other words we need to know whether there was any clinical evidence presented on memory loss, shock etc. The fact that the miscreant was walking down the road, and said “what accident” when challenged is surely an indicator.

    Any Law Society review would be fraught and would, no doubt, turn on medical evidence….. if any . Moot?

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  9. alex Masterley (1,494 comments) says:

    Charges can be laid against the lawyer under section 241 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, if a person has been convicted of an offense punishable by imprisonment and the conviction reflects on that persons fitness to practice.

    Section 38 of the land transport act suggests there is the possiblity of imprisonment for an offense of careless use of a motorvehicle causing unjury.

    Consequently i suspect that the local standards committee in the Hawke Bay may be looking at this person, with a view to laying charges.

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  10. Yoza (1,643 comments) says:

    He should have told them he was a merchant banker and he thought he’d hit a Maori or an Asian if he wanted a really lenient ruling.

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  11. tvb (4,229 comments) says:

    But there was no injury, I suspect he was charged with careless driving simplicitor which is fine only and discretionary disqualification. It is not imprisonable. Such a charge is commonly diverted, but not so in this case. Why??

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  12. RRM (9,590 comments) says:

    But – I’m an important man! All these laws are meant to make OTHER PEOPLE behave!

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  13. jims_whare (399 comments) says:

    I wonder if the cops explored any suggestion of intent on behalf of Hewat. It would be hard to prove but then he could have been looking at Assault with a weapon or such similar charge.

    Be interesting to know if there was any previous interaction between the two……

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  14. Ed Snack (1,770 comments) says:

    Flipper has a good point; on the face of it he was at best extremely foolish and is indeed lucky to escape so lightly. I’d be a little less inclined to leap into attacking him without knowing a little more about any possible shock. Just sayin…

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  15. Chuck Bird (4,725 comments) says:

    What is missing in the article is whether this lawyer was breath tested. If he wasn’t we should know why.

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  16. Nostalgia-NZ (4,985 comments) says:

    Probably right Ed Snack, shock and panic.

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  17. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    And this is not a dumb 19 year old. This is a lawyer

    Dumb 19 years olds everywhere will be appalled at this comparison :)

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  18. peterwn (3,190 comments) says:

    I suspect he did significant ‘damage control’ afterwards. He might have been facing a ‘reckless driving’ charge and a ‘failing to render assistance’ charged, but got the former reduced to careless driving and the latter dropped in exchange for a guilty plea. AFAIK the Police do not offer diversion for motoring offences.

    The maximum penalty for careless driving (no injury or death) is $3000 and/or loss of licence (max period not specified). If he was not charged with ‘failing to render assistance’ the judge cannot really treat this as an aggravating factor when sentencing for careless driving. The penalty must be reduced from a ‘starting point’ for an early guilty plea (Sentencing Act).

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  19. dime (9,606 comments) says:

    sentence seems fair for a traffic infringement. no one died. i wouldnt want to see someone do a stretch for that.

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  20. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    DPF,

    That’s an appallingly light sentence for twice fleeing the scene.

    Twice? The second time it says he was picked up by McVicar and brought back. I’m not sure leaving after that can be considered a violation of section 22. Also the maximum penalty for failing to render assistance without reasonable excuse is 3 months imprisonment. This would appear a run of the mill example of this type of offence. Sentencing seems fair.

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  21. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    Imagine if the McVicar had collided with him and then tried to leave the scene. Think you might have heard more about it then?

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  22. Dennis Horne (2,105 comments) says:

    Can’t make sense of this crash. I read the earlier report in the Herald, referenced above.

    Was Hewat turning right into Lawn Street or overtaking? I would like to assume the police investigated this properly, but I don’t. I could understand McVicar being disorientated, he saw it coming, was spun around out of control. Hewat drove of and parked his car. Where was he going down Lawn Street?

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  23. PaulD (97 comments) says:

    “At the time Hewat told police he did not know he had collided with another vehicle.”

    Maybe the cause of the accident could be something like an absence attack. This is a form of epilepsy and as such period of twelve months free from seizures is normally required before an individual is allowed to drive again or is allowed to obtain a driving licence.

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  24. Dennis Horne (2,105 comments) says:

    @PaulD: I am sure Hewat is very well aware of all medical conditions that might explain it. We can’t tell from the narrative if his brain was “dazed” or working in overdrive.

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  25. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    Some kind-hearted people are suggesting there could be a medical reason. I doubt it.

    The guy could well have been drunk, crashed his car causing all that damage. Knowing the worst that would happen would be a fine and brief disqualification, and knowing that helping out would not reduce is penalty, the arsehole thought: “fuck this, I’m outta here, my time’s too important to waste with this, insurance will sort it out”.

    Come his day it court he says all the right things to his judge mate to get a short sentence (IMO early guilty pleas should only reduce your sentence if you had a chance at defence). He’ll probably bill the $850 to his business, and rest happy he wasn’t breathalysed. If you know the system, you know what you can get away with – look at the judge who “didn’t” key the car.

    The main problem here is that there is no incentive to do the right thing. As every criminal knows, when you meet the police “deny, deny, deny” and “lie, lie, lie” – no matter how blatant.

    “But I just saw you break the bus shelter window right then, and there’s no-one else around, and you’re holding a brick.”
    “No officer, it wasn’t me.”

    There is no penalty for doing this, and if you have to change your story to be more pragmatic, you’ve got time to do this before you reach court.

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  26. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    We have two justice systems in this country, one for the serfs (like me) and one for the societal elite like this prick.

    And this prick:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8070415/Lawyer-escapes-drink-driving-charge

    He has been caught drink driving many times before.

    Everyone say “legal system” because it isn’t about justice.

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  27. Chuck Bird (4,725 comments) says:

    I have comment in Hawke’s Bay Today. Waiting for it to be published. It is poorly reported. If he was breath tested it should be reported whatever the result. If he was not breath tested it should definitely be reported.

    Alcohol obviously could be a reason for his behaviour.

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  28. David Garrett (6,645 comments) says:

    There is a great deal more to this than has been reported. I deeply regret I can say no more than that.

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  29. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    tristanb (1,069) Says:
    March 19th, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Come his day it court he says all the right things to his judge mate to get a short sentence…

    The sentence isn’t short. Read the statute. This offending is comparable to someone being in possession of cannabis. Do you seriously believe that everyone who is found in possession of cannabis spends three months in prison? There is no evidence that this sentence reflects a friendly relationship with the judge.

    (IMO early guilty pleas should only reduce your sentence if you had a chance at defence).

    What does that mean “chance at defence”? Everyone has a chance at defending themselves.

    He’ll probably bill the $850 to his business, and rest happy he wasn’t breathalysed. If you know the system, you know what you can get away with – look at the judge who “didn’t” key the car.

    How do you know he wasn’t breath tested?

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  30. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    David Garrett (3,362) Says:
    March 19th, 2013 at 10:19 am

    There is a great deal more to this than has been reported. I deeply regret I can say no more than that.

    Ya great big tease! :)

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  31. David Garrett (6,645 comments) says:

    Weihana: Guilty as charged…I debated weighing into this at all, knowing there would be calls to “put up or shut up” or more gentle gibes like yours. I just can’t go any further. I have been made aware that there are members of our noble profession monitoring this blog, their fingers poised above a keyboard, the complaint precedent loaded and ready, knowing I comment here regularly.

    I will say this. There is no reason to think the Police acted other than entirely properly in this matter. Where is the so called “fourth estate”? Too busy blogging their own opinions?

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  32. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Mr farar is obviously correct as the sun rises each day.

    This man fled the scene of an accident and probably should have been jailed .

    I hope someone reminds a judge of this case because it has certainly set a precedent

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  33. Chuck Bird (4,725 comments) says:

    “What does that mean “chance at defence”? Everyone has a chance at defending themselves.”

    Are you a lawyer?

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  34. RRM (9,590 comments) says:

    I notice at least one of Mr Hewat’s clients is on the SST website…

    http://www.safenz.org.nz/sxdb/orchistonwarwick.htm

    Garth McV’s unscheduled meeting with him, at a crime scene of their very own, must have been quite a surreal moment for both gentlemen… :P

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  35. Pete George (23,133 comments) says:

    There is no reason to think the Police acted other than entirely properly in this matter.

    There will be instant skeptics to that.

    But without more detail my starting position on this is presuming the police (and the court) will have been very careful to get this one right, considering the occupation of the guilty party and the profile of the injured car.

    So without any evidence to the contrary I accept what DG says about the police.

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  36. Chuck Bird (4,725 comments) says:

    Someone mentioned another lawyer. This crim beat the charge completely. In these cases do judges have to stand down if the know the lawyer or even disclose a perceived conflict of interest.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8070415/Lawyer-escapes-drink-driving-charge

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  37. flipper (3,750 comments) says:

    All that many comments to date show is that we (well, many) are far too ready to reach conclusions and pontificate, without having adequate, not to say, complete information available.

    Without offending the would be “law society police”, or impringing upon any perceived or actual privilege, David G clearly suggests, and properly I suspect, that:

    a. Police (in this instance) did their duty according to law, and without fear or favour, and
    b. The circumnstances did not justify charges against Mr Hewat other than those laid – charges that resulted in his guilty plea.

    There is another possibility, namely that other charges might have resulted in prolonged medical/legal argument and no conviction.

    So folks, less pre-ejaculation, please. :)

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  38. Dennis Horne (2,105 comments) says:

    @David Garrett. Damned right there’s more than meets the eye. I am reassured by your claim the Police acted properly.

    The fact remains that McVicar might easily have been seriously hurt, sheer luck Cregan wasn’t killed. This was not some ding at at intersection. It’s a thousand times worse than the Pacific Blue pilot at Queenstown, who has been crucified over a technicality.

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  39. duggledog (1,412 comments) says:

    It’s New Zealand, remember

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  40. Jimmy Smits (246 comments) says:

    Yoza (300) Says:
    March 19th, 2013 at 8:23 am

    He should have told them he was a merchant banker and he thought he’d hit a Maori or an Asian if he wanted a really lenient ruling.

    You may be interested to know that Guy Hallwright was fired by Forsyth Barr afterwards.

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  41. Dennis Horne (2,105 comments) says:

    A good lawyer persuades us a chain of improbabilities a mile long is what probably happened. Come on McVicar, give us your side of the story.

    Huhne and Pryce jailed 8 months over a speed-camera ticket. Ah, but that was for lying.

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  42. peterwn (3,190 comments) says:

    Reading the scenario, the police would have checked for alcohol, either there was none or he was below the limit. So alcohol did not seem to be a factor here.

    Dennis Horne – a good reason for not applying demerits to vehicle owners for speed camera offences. However with improved technology, the driver’s face if visible could be run against the file of driving licence photos.

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  43. tvb (4,229 comments) says:

    It would have been routine to breath test Mr Hewett if the police spoke to him at the time of the accident.. It would be interesting to know when they did eventually speak to Mr Hewett. There is much to read between the lines on this case.

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  44. David Garrett (6,645 comments) says:

    peterwn: I count FOUR distinct propositions in your first para. It is very much like the curate’s egg – good in parts.

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  45. UrbanNeocolonialist (194 comments) says:

    dime (8:49): why should there be any difference in sentencing if there is no injury or if someone is killed?

    Seems to me the only thing that should be taken into account in prosecuting a traffic offence is the behaviour that created the accident in the first place (how egregious is the bad judgement/choice made) as the outcome is generally in the lap of the gods. Sometimes the perpetrator gets incredibly lucky, sometimes incredibly unlucky, so in this area the law can be stupidly capricious.

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  46. peterwn (3,190 comments) says:

    UrbanNeocoloniast – This would be a three step process. Firstly the Prosecution needs to show that the driver ‘operate[d] a vehicle on a road carelessly or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road.’ Any injury or death is immaterial at this point. If proved the penalties prescribed by s37 of the Land Transport Act 1998 apply (up to $3000 fine and/or disqualification – no maximum specified). Secondly (if applicable) the Prosecution needs to prove that ‘by that act or omission causes an injury to or the death of another person’. If proved s38 penalties apply (Up to 3 months / up to $4500 fine and at least 6 months disqualification). The third step is sentencing in accordance with the Sentencing Act.

    I would agree that it is illogical to boost the penalty if it caused a death or injury. However the Sentencing Act and hence judges make a big thing about ‘denunciation’ and ‘accountability’ which is what society through Parliament has demanded in recent years, and the need for ‘denunciation’ and ‘accountability’ becomes more pressing where a death or injury is involved.

    There are also enhanced penalties for drink-drive causing injury or death – up to 10 years jail and similar reasoning applies to this.

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  47. Chuck Bird (4,725 comments) says:

    I wonder if Peter of any other lawyers on this blog can tell us what if any obligation a judge has to declare a perceived conflict of interest in a criminal or civil case if one party is a lawyer and he knows him or her.

    This is of interest to me as I am in a civil case and I know the former lawyer I am trying to recover money off drank regularly at the Northern Club and used to big note how he used to drink with the judge and prosecuting lawyer after the case.

    If I was on a jury and the defendant or a key witness was someone I drank with regularly at my local I would disclose it.

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  48. Doc Holliday (36 comments) says:

    Drove into car, caused terrible accident: $350.
    Rammed yacht in harbour, half-killed an occupant, sank vessel: $100.
    Invaded country without cause, killed tens of thousands: made millions.
    WOF expired just over a month, no “ticket” left on windscreen, letter from council, court action if $200 fine not paid in 7 days.

    Give me the Wild West any day.

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  49. peterwn (3,190 comments) says:

    David – another ‘distinct proposition’ – drink-drive procedure followed but a ‘fatal’ error occurred meaning a prosecution would fail.

    Chuck – IANAL. – Judges would declare a conflict if it were considered significant. The threshold cannot be too low otherwise it could become impossible to find a judge for a case. Probably a higher threshold than for a juror. There was a problem with the Trinity/ Ben Nevis case as all Auckland based judges knew one or more defendants and IRD/ Crown Law did not want to see the case de-railed on that basis. Fortunately Justice Venning had just moved to Auckland and had no conflicts apart from owning a forestry share which he disclosed. The defendants are trying to skewer him over this but I do not know how far they have got. Their ‘concern’ was if Justice Venning had found against IRD, then IRD could retaliate by auditing his forestry investment.

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  50. David Garrett (6,645 comments) says:

    That’s certainly one of them Peterwn….and breath screening tests can of course “fail” for all sorts of reasons…

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  51. Nostalgia-NZ (4,985 comments) says:

    Well at least we can assume that the judge didn’t know all the facts, speculations and suspicions abroad on KB at this point, the poor chap.

    He is probably a commie in some unusual relationship with one of the lawyers.

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  52. Nostalgia-NZ (4,985 comments) says:

    Run out of answers davey?

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  53. Nostalgia-NZ (4,985 comments) says:

    Try standing on a box davey, it might help you get up in the world.

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  54. Nostalgia-NZ (4,985 comments) says:

    I can understand why you feel off side with the Justice system and the Law Society davey, you must feel very emotional about it. Ever consider picking yourself up out of the swill and deep sorrow, and getting on with it? It’s not so tough davey, standing on your own two feet not and feeling sorry for yourself. Toughen up old chap.

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  55. Judith (8,219 comments) says:

    David Garrett (3,379) Says:
    March 19th, 2013 at 9:13 pm
    —————————

    I think I saw something from you once about making mistakes in youth that you lived to regret later in life –
    It’s a pity you have shown yourself to be a hypocrite – your comments here make a mockery of your earlier statement. Obviously it was said only to win sympathy – never with any conviction. Or is it just that it was ok for you to make mistakes in your youth and expect forgiveness and understanding, but no one else is allowed to?

    You bitch when people raise your errors,’ and yet you take delight in doing just that to others. You state you have changed your ways, but you don’t allow for others to have done the same. The depth of offending means little many years on, but the attitude does – and yours still stinks.

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  56. David Garrett (6,645 comments) says:

    Homicides = mistakes….fuck me, I have seen it all….

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  57. labrator (1,805 comments) says:

    Was this thread censored? There were a large number of posts in here that disappeared on refresh… well outside the edit timeframe…

    [DFP: Yes I removed them as they were in breach of my posting policy. People should not try and out other commenters]

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  58. Dennis Horne (2,105 comments) says:

    Does it matter?

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  59. labrator (1,805 comments) says:

    @DPF Ok, cool.

    @dennis One of the best things about KB is the lack of censorship. So yes, it matters.

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  60. Judith (8,219 comments) says:

    David Garrett (3,377) Says:
    March 19th, 2013 at 10:03 pm
    —————————

    Then you are obviously of the class of thought that a person is not able to change.
    That we are born the way we are, and will stay that way forever.

    Will you support a request for locks to be put on the gates of graveyards to keep you out – clearly, you are still a danger to well being of families grieving for a lost child if you are unable to change.

    Maybe you see no difference, but after years of experience in a position that provides me with the necessary knowledge, I see a very big one. Those that are willing to change, only do so by accepting the severity of their actions, regardless of the seriousness, and don’t attempt to excuse them, by devaluing them in comparison to other offences.

    In this thread I see one man that accepts his wrong-doing, and has turned his life around, and another who demonstrates he will say what ever he needs to gain political points, but in reality thinks his past behaviour, that caused people grief, was all a bit of a laugh – he is the one that is more of a danger to society. He is a fool.

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  61. David Garrett (6,645 comments) says:

    I used to think you were a serious commenter Judith…I see I was mistaken.

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