The bail madness

March 4th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

should be granted to most people awaiting trial, as  they are innocent until proven guilty. Obviously not for the most serious cases such as murder.

But when someone has a history of offending on bail, or multiple previous convictions – then sticking them out on bail is just a recipe for creating further victims of crime. Especially that often any additional offences while on bail will not lead to greater punishment.

Now look at this case reported by Anna Leask:

A teenager on bail when he robbed an 81-year-old woman, breaking her hip and wrist and disabling her for life, has been sentenced to home detention.

But Darren Fidow’s elderly victim wants him jailed and is demanding a harsher sentence.

Patricia Sutcliffe’s hip and wrist were badly broken when she was robbed in 2011. She was in hospital for more than three months, is in constant pain and can no longer walk without a crutch.

Auckland Crown Solicitor Simon Moore, QC, is considering an appeal. The Crown originally sought a sentence of more than five years’ jail.

The sentence is bad enough. But look at the history.

Fidow was on bail facing a burglary charge when he robbed her.

In June 2011, Fidow was charged with aggravated robbery. He appeared in court and was released on bail.

1st time.

Fidow was arrested again in February last year for breaching supervision conditions and was warned and re-bailed.

2nd time.

He was also arrested in June after failing to appear in court. He was remanded in custody after evading police for several months, but released again in July on electronic bail.

3rd time.

Days later, after a scheduled court appearance, Fidow was caught burgling another house. This time he was remanded in custody, but in October, he was bailed again to Odyssey House, for alcohol abuse treatment.

4th time.

What is the bet he breaches his home detention?

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39 Responses to “The bail madness”

  1. Manolo (12,625 comments) says:

    The animal deserves a bullet, not bail.
    The savage will keep attacking innocent citizens during his miserable life.

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (3,216 comments) says:

    Just confirming: are you saying that no-one charged with murder should ever receive bail? Or are you saying that no-one charged with murder is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty?

    [DPF: The presumption should be against bail for those accused of murder. In exceptional cases bail might be acceptable]

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  3. b1gdaddynz (264 comments) says:

    I have a strong urge to cave his face in!

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  4. liarbors a joke (1,069 comments) says:

    This is a joke. Is it any wonder we need the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Again, the judiciary have failed the public.
    This judge needs to be held to account when the scumbag reoffends.

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  5. Barnsley Bill (929 comments) says:

    Graeme, as usual you are trying to set up a deadening round of legal pedantry.
    Rather than ask sweeping catch all questions why not attempt to show just a little humanity around the case that David is writing on.
    This Fidow animal got let off. Again. That he will breach his piss weak conditions is inevitable.
    Bail is there to limit the cost to the taxpayer and serve as a fairness valve for the accused. it is not there to allow violent scum to repeatedly flout the bail privilege.
    Why are the left so in love with rights for ferals but seem to despise the poor and elderly? I thought the left were supposed to be the group that cared for those most vulnerable?

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  6. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    Teenager – s15. I understand that the high presumption in favour of bail under the Bail Act for under 20s is being amended but currently there are some under twenty who pay scant, ie no, regard to bail conditions. As the law stands the bail decisions were entirely consistent with the legislation. Whilst there are good reasons to try and keep young people out of prison bail conditions have to have meaning and breaches/alleged offending on bail needs to have consequences not just to make bail conditions work but allow a proper evaluation of risk of allowing that person to remain in the community.

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  7. Dean Papa (620 comments) says:

    You just don’t get it DPF. Those judges will be getting Knighthoods (or Damehoods) because they are judges who show compassion. This Darren Fidow is also a victim, and these compassionate judges understand that. These compassionate judges are in touch with the realities of life on the streets, and realise that people such as Darren are victims of their upbringings, and of circumstances beyond their control. These wise and compassionate judges are our moral superiors, and the predictable criticisms of these wise and compassionate judges that will no doubt follow in here only reflect the lack of compassion of the average Kiwi pleb. I salute these wise and compassionate judges. Pay rises and knighthoods all round I say!

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  8. wreck1080 (3,522 comments) says:

    This week Darren Fidow, next week someone else. There’s an impressive role call of people who commit violent crimes on bail.

    But, what can we do to get rid of such judges?

    Nothing.

    Why is it that judges cannot be fired or removed?

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  9. F E Smith (3,273 comments) says:

    What GPT said.

    Parliament, in its infinite wisdom, has told Judges that they must try as hard as they can to keep teenagers out of custody. That is most likely why Fidow was released on electronic bail rather than placed in custody on the 3rd time around. Again, the Judge was merely following the regime that Parliament set out, although my own view is that e-bail would have been indicated from when the agg rob charge was laid.

    Release to Odyssey House would most likely have included conditions of not to leave the premises, so would have been more like a house arrest than actual bail. Still, a risk given his history, but with an end purpose so perhaps an acceptable risk.

    An interesting point to make in relation to the bail issue is that bail is progressively more difficult to get as you go down the Country (I wouldn’t have liked Fidow’s chances in Dunedin, for example). If you ever get in trouble, try to ensure that your bail application is heard in Auckland to maximise your chances!

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  10. Cato (1,094 comments) says:

    I agree with Lord Birkenhead.

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  11. alex Masterley (1,438 comments) says:

    The release to Odyssey house tells a story in itself.

    Fidow has drug/alcohol issues which need to be sorted.

    I know it will seem odd to some here but judges have to do what the law tells them to do.

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  12. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    He sounds like a good candidate for tier two of the RRM two-tier system.

    [Which means that at the end of his first year in the concrete block dungeon on Auckland Island, he becomes eligible to apply for a lid for his tin shit bucket. Eligible to apply for one.]

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  13. Manolo (12,625 comments) says:

    Two new candidates for bail? http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10868998

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  14. Chuck Bird (4,410 comments) says:

    “I know it will seem odd to some here but judges have to do what the law tells them to do.”

    In that case the law needs to be changed to allow judges less discretion.

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  15. Nostalgia-NZ (4,688 comments) says:

    The National party have drawn a pretty bold line in the sand to reduce recidivism, keeping teenagers out of custody is likely to be part of that. Bad result in this incident, but we won’t get to hear about the 100s or 1000s where there was no further offending on bail, yet it gives the resident numbskulls something to froth at the mouth over.

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  16. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    In that case the law needs to be changed to allow judges less discretion.
    The law, as it is currently, does limit Judge’s discretion in relation bail considerations for under 20s . In fact it significantly limits a Judge’s discretion to remand them in custody.

    Perhaps what you are trying to say is that the law should be amended to limit a Judge’s discretion to remand in custody less?

    As Alex says the Odyssey house element speaks for itself. That said, usual caveats as to relying on media reports, it does seem to be a sentence worthy of consideration on appeal.

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  17. David Garrett (5,134 comments) says:

    Nostalgia: Is your real name Jamie Lockett, formerly of the Tuhoe country?

    I endorse what FES has said…we are still suffering under the legacy of the Clark government with regard to Bail, Sentencing, and Parole. Three strikes addressed one of those areas only.

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  18. Judith (5,660 comments) says:

    b1gdaddynz (153) Says:
    March 4th, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    I have a strong urge to cave his face in!

    So you want to bash someone for bashing someone ?

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  19. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    There are some very strong arguments in favour of keeping kids out of prison (which is what under 20s are) however research also tells us that as a teenagers brain develops the ability to weigh up risk and consequences is out of whack (that’s why agg robb is such a favourite of young offenders). So, arguably, s15 is binding the hands of Judges in relation to alleged offenders who the research would suggest are from a HIGH RISK age group. In a perfect world we would have specific youth facilities (that go beyond 17) but rustling up the kind of cash required for that is a pipe dream.

    Whilst we must not lose sight of the fact that every pre conviction remand in custody is locking up someone who is presumed innocent there are some areas of the Bail Act that should be looked at including s15.

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  20. b1gdaddynz (264 comments) says:

    @Judith Fair Point but these cowardly bastards make my blood boil; I would love it if he tried to mug me or if I caught him in the act of attacking an 81 year old woman! I am actually surprised it took so long for someone to call me on it! I have since written to the crown prosecutor urging him to appeal the sentence!

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  21. kowtow (6,706 comments) says:

    You can’t argue for equality and human rights in one arena and then deny them in another!

    Get my drift?

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  22. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    Perhaps bail should not be granted to people with prior convictions for violence. I agree with the presumption of innocence but judges Should be made to consider past offences when looking at granting bail.

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  23. Chuck Bird (4,410 comments) says:

    “Parliament, in its infinite wisdom”

    FES, surely you must be joking. Parliament has made some really dumb decisions.

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  24. marcw (206 comments) says:

    @ Chuckie bird

    So when was “it was because I was drunk/stoned your honour” ever an acceptable excuse?

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  25. Chuck Bird (4,410 comments) says:

    @marcw

    Why ask me? I would never suggest it was. Would you?

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  26. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    So when was “it was because I was drunk/stoned your honour” ever an acceptable excuse?
    It is not.

    The theory behind the sentence is that by sentencing to a period of Home Detention at a rehabilitative care centre that the drivers of the offending can be addressed and hopefully put muggins back on the straight and narrow. The theory is a sensible one, particularly where there are young offenders who can simply be locked up for ever increasing periods of time or perhaps, just perhaps, be brought kicking and screaming back to society.

    The issue, and usual caveats regarding relying on media reports, is that the lead charge was a pretty average agg rob and imho precedent would suggest that the needs for deterrence and denounciation outweigh the needs of society to try and rehabilitate. I would be pretty surprised if a client, even a youth, facing that charge was not given a full time custodial sentence.

    It will take better philosphers and theorists than me to argue whether that is right or wrong but I would make the point that what ever the sentence is eventually he will no longer be subject to it.

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  27. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    Absolutely disgusting.

    It may interest readers to know that the sentencing judge is Phillippa Cunningham. This is the same judge that gave the ridiculous sentence to the “comedian” (if you know the identity of the comedian you will know why I put that word in quotes!) because he made people laugh.
    Unbelievable.

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  28. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    Oh and Judge Phillipa Cunningham made these comments when sentencing:

    “I accept that he is remorseful … that Mr Fidow did not give any thought to what might happen to this elderly victim when he did what he did, but he is now aware of the consequences for her.

    “It would be a pity to undo all the good work that has been done (he was bailed to Odyssey House). It is important that you be given the opportunity to serve a sentence which means that you will not be imprisoned.”

    In other words it is all about what is best for the criminal, and the impact on the victim is ignored.

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  29. Nostalgia-NZ (4,688 comments) says:

    GTP1
    ‘The issue, and usual caveats regarding relying on media reports, is that the lead charge was a pretty average agg rob and imho precedent would suggest that the needs for deterrence and denounciation outweigh the needs of society to try and rehabilitate.’

    Hard to disagree with that, particularly because of the woman’s age and the severity of the injuries. I read that her shattered bone extended from her skin. But the complaint is about the bail I thought. What you said about the perceived ‘risk and consequences’ being out of whack with youth makes it a difficult marriage between keeping youth out of prison (and therefore running the risks apparent in this case) and the longer term objectives this government has. I guess overall single cases are not identifiers of progress or lack of progress toward those objectives.

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  30. Nostalgia-NZ (4,688 comments) says:

    bc

    “I accept that he is remorseful … that Mr Fidow did not give any thought to what might happen to this elderly victim when he did what he did, but he is now aware of the consequences for her.

    “It would be a pity to undo all the good work that has been done (he was bailed to Odyssey House). It is important that you be given the opportunity to serve a sentence which means that you will not be imprisoned.”

    I hadn’t read that when I made the post above. It might not make more sense of this to you, but those comments do for me in terms of what Tolley announced last year about bringing down recidivism.

    If Phillipa Cunningham’s judgement on this is considered to fall short another Court may well remedy it if Simon Moore decides to appeal.

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  31. Longknives (4,048 comments) says:

    “Nostalgia: Is your real name Jamie Lockett, formerly of the Tuhoe country?”

    David Garrett- John Campbell described Lockett as a “Loveable Rogue”…

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  32. Paul Marsden (935 comments) says:

    As is usual, commentators who are lawyers here, circle the wagons to deflect criticism of one of their own. Judges are the servants of the people, paid for by the people to uphold the rights of society. The namby-pamby gibberish spoekn here by the likes of intellectuals such as Graeme Edgeler, is not the view of the people, and you and your ilk Mr. Edgler, are in the minority. And a claim by FE Smith here that Judges are only biding by the wishes of the Government that teens should be bailed wherever possible, is just an absurd nonsense, when Judges know that there is extant in law to jail creeps like Fidow. Worse, you have experienced cops leaving the force in droves, fed up to their back teeth with having to deal with the aftermath of bad decisions by an incompetent, out of touch Judiciary. Heads should roll.

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  33. bc (1,251 comments) says:

    Well Nostalgia-NZ, Fidow’s a four times recidivist (that we know of) so I don’t see any recidivism numbers going down here by letting him out on bail all the time.

    And as for Tolley – remember that she was a pretty woeful Education Minister. It’s kind of easy to forget that, now that we have Parata who makes Tolley look like a genius in comparison! Tolley might do something for you (whatever that is) but she doesn’t do anything for me!

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  34. Harriet (4,010 comments) says:

    “…..teenagers brain develops the ability to weigh up risk and consequences is out of whack (that’s why agg robb is such a favourite of young offenders)…..”

    Right……so kids in the 60′s 70′s 80′s didn’t have a brain then?

    agg-rob only started for this age group in the early ’90s – just a few years after schools done away with corporal punishment!

    6 of the best for you for that lousy effort! :cool:

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  35. Nostalgia-NZ (4,688 comments) says:

    bc.

    I’m still not arguing that Fidow got the right sentence or that he wasn’t very lucky to be on bail. Rather that there is policy in place which indicates stratagies are in place to curb recidivism and for the cases like this that we hear about there’ll be 100s which long term may keep re-offending rates falling. We need a cheaper and more efficient system.

    No one would have been surprised if Fidow had got 5 years despite his youth, even then the public may have possibly not even heard about the case. It will be interesting for everyone (except Fidow) what might happen if the sentence is appealed.

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  36. big bruv (12,354 comments) says:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8380742/Victim-says-violent-criminal-will-reoffend

    And when he does reoffend it will be because of colonisation.

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  37. Judith (5,660 comments) says:

    I am not sure how the restorative justice conference will work so long after the initial offence. However, there is no reason why the time delay should make a difference, in fact, a lengthy period of imprisonment may have given this guy the time to reflect and perhaps mature a little.

    Facing the victims of the offence, and listening to the manner in which their lives have been negatively impacted certainly does work well in many cases. I’ve seen hardened long term recidivists break down in such meetings when they are put through the process for the first time.

    In one case, a man (about 38) faced his victim, an elderly woman whose arm was broken when he pushed passed her escaping a scene of his crime. She told him how she couldn’t hang her washing on the line anymore, how sweeping her floor was hard, and how she should be able to paint her own fence, but couldn’t. This guy agreed to visit her three times a week to hang out her washing and help with house chores, and he painted her fence. The agreement was to do it for 18 mths (after his 6 mth prison sentence) four years later I believe he is still doing it for her, and more. He hasn’t re-offended and is a strong advocate for the Restorative Justice system. He said having to look her in the eye and hear how he had effected her life was one of the hardest moments in his life. It was easy to distance himself from the victims of his crimes, when he hadn’t been made to face them.

    I am not sure how the system would work with sex offenders though. It entirely depends on type and reason for the sexual component. Some sex offenders will always be a risk to the community, others not.

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  38. GPT1 (2,042 comments) says:

    As is usual, commentators who are lawyers here, circle the wagons to deflect criticism of one of their own
    Well no. What you have seen is lawyers point out the facts. That the law, as it stands, not only allows bail to be granted in the circumstances set out above but requires it.

    But I guess using phrases such as “absurd nonsenese” as if that amounts to an argument is easier than dealing in facts.

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  39. F E Smith (3,273 comments) says:

    and a claim by FE Smith here that Judges are only biding by the wishes of the Government that teens should be bailed wherever possible, is just an absurd nonsense

    Well, that is a somewhat bastardised version of my reading of this:

    15. If a court remands or commits for trial or for sentence a defendant who appears to the court to be of or over the age of 17 years but under the age of 20 years, it must release the defendant on bail or otherwise subject to such conditions as it thinks fit.

    There are some exceptions, but I don’t think any of them apply here.  The last resort is at s142 of the Criminal Justice Act

    (4A) Despite section 15 of the Bail Act 2000, the court may in any case direct that the person be detained in a prison if in its opinion no other course is desirable, having regard to all the circumstances.

    (4B) Despite section 15 of the Bail Act 2000, the court may remand the person in the custody of the Director-General of Social Welfare if in its opinion it is desirable to do so by reason of special circumstances, and if it is satisfied that the Director-General of Social Welfare is able and willing to keep the person in custody in accordance with this section.

    but (4A) is a pretty big hurdle to jump.  Parliament is quite clear, in two separate enactments, that persons under the age of 20 are not to be remanded in custody unless no other course is desirable.  That means e-bail, rehab, conditions etc, all have to be considered in depth and found to be undesirable in the circumstances. 

    In the case of a teenager with drug and/or alcohol issues, that is a big call to make.

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