A restorative justice case backed by Garth McVicar

July 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The hardline Sensible Sentencing Trust has come out in support of a judge’s decision not to jail a drink-driver who killed a New Plymouth woman.

Hogan Bolton, 31, of New Plymouth, was sentenced on July 4 to nine months’ home detention following the death of artist and mother Carmen Rogers after she was hit in Brougham St on May 6.

His breath alcohol was 1297mcg. The legal level is 400mcg.

As well as making a $50,000 emotional harm reparation to the family he has agreed to appear in an anti-drink driving documentary.

The sentence, worked out through the restorative justice process, has reignited debate on the futility of imprisoning offenders rather than focusing on more effective alternatives.

Yesterday, Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman said he was supportive of Judge Allan Roberts’ decision.

“Normally I’m not a big fan of restorative justice. Often victims haven’t been told the full picture, that attending a restorative justice conference reduces the sentence.

“But I’m a big fan of offenders being held to account. And if that involves public speaking and a documentary in this case, then that’s great.”

His stance might put him out on a limb with others in his group, McVicar said.

Obviously Bolton was incredibly remorseful and the judge should be given a pat on the back for thinking outside the square, McVicar said.

Before sentencing Carmen Rogers’ husband Che, his family and Bolton had met in a day-long restorative justice conference.

Che Rogers said he did not want Bolton jailed.

Rather it was agreed that Bolton be part of an anti-drink-driving documentary and also give a speech to senior Spotswood college students with Nouveau, 15, Che and Carmen Rogers’ older daughter.

Seems a good outcome. Restorative justice and non custodial sentences are great when the offenders are truly remorseful and not repeat offenders. I’m sceptical of their value when it does involve a serious repeat offender.

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38 Responses to “A restorative justice case backed by Garth McVicar”

  1. Nukuleka (217 comments) says:

    I agree with this decision in principle, though really only the judge, victim’s family and the offender are in full knowledge of all the facts and emotions involved. It’s to be hope that all works out well for the offender in the future. He was certainly well over the blood alcohol level, wasn’t he!

    It is truly futile to be locking up and wasting taxpayers’ money in gaoling offenders if there is a better alternative that will result in a more positive outcome for everyone involved. Good on Garth McVicar for his flexibility of approach and good on the victim’s family for their generosity of spirit.

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  2. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    Restorative justice can work to the turn the offender round, and allow them to become remorseful for their actions.

    Sometimes the process, if undertaken correctly can be very empowering for the victim, sufficiently so to enable them to tell the offender face-to-face, how the offence effected their lives, the pain, the damages etc. It also allows the victim to have a say in the sentencing etc, which assist them in gaining strength and getting over the offence.

    So often the offender is able to walk away from their offence and never give the victim another thought, but when that victim is ‘in their face’, the power imbalance changes, and suddenly it is the offender that is on the back foot.

    There have been some great successes with restorative justice, especially for the victim, who is able to gain some solace from being able to confront their ‘attacker’/offender.

    It doesn’t however work with all – some are beyond that sort of assistance.

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  3. kowtow (7,653 comments) says:

    It’s all in the language. Stuff call the SST “hardline”. Well by whose definition? Only 40 odd years ago we had proper sentencing . Then the cultural marxism ,crim hugging ,boo hoo hoo it’s all someone elses fault white liberal guilt shit kicked in to end first the death sentence,then whole life sentences to the stage you only did 10 years for murder.

    “Hardline” my arse , I call it common sense.

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  4. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    kowtow: Quite so Sir/Madam…

    As I said in my maiden speech, in 1974 Elton John’s manager spent a month in Mt Eden for a relatively minor assault on Judith Baragwanath (no weapon used, no injuries)…The man appealed to the Supreme (now High) Court and had the sentence affirmed with a lecture from the Judge on how we did things here…Burglars routinely went to jail…now they have to rack up 100 or so to be guaranteed a few months inside…

    Go back only to the 40′s and little scrotes found guilty of vandalism or lower end sexual offending got the cat…said not to be a deterrent by the lefty wankers, but look how they all bleat loudly when someone is sentenced to a few strokes up in Singers or Malaysia..

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  5. Harriet (4,532 comments) says:

    FFS. The guy killed someone. 3 times over the limit.

    You arn’t upholding the sanctity of life this way. This isn’t life affirming.

    This is all about him only! Think about it – anyone who HAS been jailed for drink driving and killing can talk to school kids.

    He’s not special y’now!

    so the millionth drink driver is special.

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  6. Kimble (4,383 comments) says:

    You would say that to his face Harriet?

    With the victims family standing with him?

    I doubt it.

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  7. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    Harriet: I understand your outrage…but when the victim’s family seems strongly opposed to a custodial sentence that makes it pretty difficult for the Judge to send him away…a lot of people don’t realise just how constrained Judges are by the Sentencing Act either…

    That said, a lot of victims are pushed into “restorative justice” meetings…they are not supposed to be pushed, but they are…McVicar has a file full of them..

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  8. MT_Tinman (2,995 comments) says:

    $50,000, time spent promoting driving safely and soberly and a lot of publicity of his mistake against him living for some time at the taxpayers’ expense when it is unlikely he will offend again.

    I think the judge got it right for a change with one exception – I would like to have seen a life-time suspended sentence to be activated if he is ever caught drink-driving again.

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  9. pidge (53 comments) says:

    I had my Restorative Justice conference with my attacker (Google “Mt Albert Lunatic”). Poor Kid (17 years old at the time of the assualt) needs sorting out. His mum had no idea about it until the Police turned up with the search warrant, where the found the clothes he was wearing including the hat. And some cannabis.

    He’d been drinking with his friend (the two other kids with him) at the time, and had finished of a 1L bottle of vodka between them (yes, begging the question of who supplied).

    He turned up to the conference two hours after having a joint -despite his bail conditions including “no drugs other than over the counter and perscribed”.

    Despite all that, I’d rather the time and money was spent halibilating him rather than incarcerating him. This time round.

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  10. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    What some people fail to realise or acknowledge with restorative justice, is that it is the victim who gets acknowledgement. The process allows the victim to be heard and contribute to decisions, where as in the court setting, apart from their impact statement, many are not given any say in what happens.

    The victim actually gets to look the offender in the eye, and say what they think, tell them how the offence made them feel, and the impact it had on their lives and the lives of their family etc – that really assists in restoring the victim – and although its easy to just consider the offender, really any process that enables to victim to at least gain some strength back has to be good in the long run.

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  11. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    ….”a lot of victims are pushed into “restorative justice” meetings”…..

    Exactly & should I ever have the misfortune to suffer an attack or a burglary I would never agree to participate. The only guaranteed outcome would be my nausea while listening to the crap.

    Most sentences are so lenient as to be an insult to justice…..what on earth is to be gained from taking time to listen to some arsewipe try to apologise & snivel their way out of the meagre punishment a judge would otherwise impose?

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  12. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    MT: How do you figure it’s unlikely this guy will offend again? Three times over the limit suggests he is an alcoholic and wont be able to stop himself…If you were three times over you probably couldn’t walk, let alone drive…

    Pidge: You are a truly generous person (no sarcasm)…but stats suggests its probably too late for this guy…10-11 is the oldest they can be and still turned around…Judith will tell you more, she’s an expert…

    Nasska: Family group conferences are even worse…what the hell is the point when Dad drove the kid to the burg and mum is a hooker?

    I had a young mate at Uni who got horribly disillusioned…”Dad” turned up at the conference in his gang patch…

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  13. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    Judith: You claim to work with victims…I have represented many victims for SST…not ONE wanted a bar of “restorative justice”…and while the MSM claim otherwise, McVicar NEVER goes looking for victims, they come to him…

    I have however acted for numerous victims who are utterly outraged at the suggestion that they might like to meet their rapist or basher and have him tell them how sorry he is…and as McVicar says, get his reduction in sentence for being willing to take part in the charade……

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  14. weizguy (120 comments) says:

    I suspect that McVicar’s position in this case has little to do with principle and more to do with the fact that he has some affinity for the offender.

    Lest we forget, these are McVicar’s words on the sentencing of Bruce Emery, who chased down 15 year old Pihema Cameron and killed him with a knife:

    “Trust spokesperson Garth McVicar says the verdict is a shame, because he understands the frustration Emery was going through when he caught the tagger at his house.
    He says the trust would have liked to have seen Emery discharged altogether.
    Mr McVicar says this would have sent a message that minor crimes like graffitti need to be dealt with seriously.
    Otherwise, with the continual breakdown of law and order, he says people will become frustrated and forced to breaking-point.”
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/11590/sensible-sentencing-trust-wanted-killer-of-tagger-set-free

    When you’re frustrated, it’s not your fault, unless Garth doesn’t like you. I wouldn’t want to speculate on what criteria Garth might use to determine whether he likes you…

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  15. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    Wiseguy: Rarely has a handle on here been so inaccurate…You clearly don’t know all the facts in the Emory case – or worse, you know them but choose not to acknowledge them.

    Firstly, Emory had been plagued for ages by little scrotes like Cameron graffiting his fence and garage door…secondly, on the night in question Cameron and his mate – after spraying graffiti yet again – ran down a cul de sac, no doubt planning to attack Emory – an unfit middle aged man – when he followed them down it, as he clearly was….thirdly, the court accepted that Cameron had “run on” to Emory’s knife as Cameron rushed him…obviously unaware that Emory had armed himself…

    And for the record, McVicar drinks almost nothing, and certainly doesn’t drink and drive…I got a major telling off from him when I foolishly did so…And knowing McVicar as I do, I very much doubt he has much “affinity” for some artist called Che…

    But why let facts get in the way of an anonymous rant?

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  16. MT_Tinman (2,995 comments) says:

    David Garrett My opinion is based on the story I read of this a couple of days ago.

    However, as I noted, I would have preferred to see a suspended sentence (involving a very long time in prison) should he ever get caught DIC again.

    As an aside I’ve known a few alcoholics who have not been caught driving drunk and have myself (probably) been over the limit to the extent of this fellow and not driven.

    Thinking about it in the old days I probably went over this limit and did drive – I remember once at a party being put on my motorbike, pointed in the correct direction and sent on my way because I was way too drunk to walk home.

    I got there.

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  17. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    Correction: The artist called “Che” is the victim’s husband, not the offender…my mistake…

    MT: You must have been a helluva rider!! I couldnt stay on a bloody push bike when I had been drinking…

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  18. MT_Tinman (2,995 comments) says:

    DG a motorbike is easier to ride than a pushbike once you get going.

    I was lucky I guess.

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  19. lurcher1948 (58 comments) says:

    Refresh Kiwiblog of your crime David Garrett im old and dont have a criminal record,i know boring but a crim who seems to be the law spokesperson on a right wing blog really is a chuckle, David Garrett the proven criminal spokesperson on law and order ,he has experience in crime.

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  20. Rex Widerstrom (5,278 comments) says:

    David Garrett says:

    Nasska: Family group conferences are even worse…what the hell is the point when Dad drove the kid to the burg and mum is a hooker?

    If they worked as they should, then the authorities present would ascertain that Mum and Dad were part of the problem, and removing the kid (permanently or at least part of the time, perhaps to a spell at ‘boot camp’) would be part of the solution. Don’t blame restorative justice as a tactic just because it’s not implemented well.

    Which brings me to my next point:

    as McVicar says, get his reduction in sentence for being willing to take part in the charade…

    Well perhaps when he was calling the tune and you had access to the machinery of legislation-making, you should have done something about that?

    A fairly simple change would see proper, committed participation in restorative justice and good behaviour whilst in prison earn credit toward a reduction in sentence toward the end of the sentence – i.e. a reduction in the non-parole period for meeting certain RJ criteria, for each day inside without incident etc. I doubt National would have balked at that, and NZF probably would have supported it too.

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  21. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    Rex: I am surprised you are an advocate of boot camps…from what I know, the various different models of same just turn out fit criminals…the Nats haven’t said much about their version lately…which suggests it is less effective than they had hoped..

    I had all sorts of plans Rex..at the time my political career ended in flames I was working with an American Judge to trial Drug Courts in New Zealand…I believe they are working quite well.

    lurcher: Certainly…30 years ago I obtained a passport in the name of a dead child who was born the same year as me…he had been dead for 25 years when I did it, and has now been dead for 55 years. When I was put before the Court in 2005 one of the things I had to do was write letters of apology to the boy’s mother and siblings. That was the first time I had any appreciation that my stupid actions had created victims. At the time, I gave no thought to consequences, either for me or them. It was just a lark.

    After several years of apologising, I decided this year that enough was enough. Hope that brings it all back for you.

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  22. adze (1,870 comments) says:

    @belcher1948
    “Refresh Kiwiblog of your crime David Garrett ”

    FFS I think every time I see DG on a thread someone who thinks they are being devastatingly witty brings up this chestnut. It’s just as well Taito Philip Field doesn’t post here under his real name or else DPF would be struggling to afford the server bandwidth charges. Only I do wonder how many of those same chortling wags would constantly have a go at him for his criminal record.

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  23. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    DG should feel flattered ‘adze’. It looks like every utterance he makes on Law & Order is so hard to rebut that the only recourse of his critics is to mention some crap that happened three decades ago.

    It would follow that his opinions are definitely a worthy read.

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  24. lurcher1948 (58 comments) says:

    Fair enough, thanks for refreshing our knowledge,carry on

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  25. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    @ David Garrett (6,225 comments) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 1:24 pm
    I only do the occasional victim support work now, however I was privileged to take part in some of the first restorative justice work when it was first started in New Zealand.

    You are right, most victims do not want to be part of the process when offered the opportunity. I suspect because people like you put them off, or at least don’t encourage them through an ignorance of what is involved. Of those that have taken part in them, overwhelmingly the majority state they are pleased they went through the process. Most mention how empowering it was for them to be able to face the offender, and tell them exactly what they felt and had experienced because of the offenders action. They also add that it was great to be able to face the offender in a position that made them superior, where frequently during the crime, they had been made to feel weak and pathetic by the offenders actions. Some even stated how good it felt to be in an environment where the offender was the one being made to feel what it was liked to be picked on.

    A lot of people get them muddled with family group conferences, which are entirely different. But from my experience the restorative justice system (which is of course primarily about restoring dignity to the victim) are very efficient in SOME types of crime.

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  26. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    nasska (10,517 comments) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    It would follow that his opinions are definitely a worthy read.

    Whilst his comments are always worth a read, and he can be commended for some of his work in the field of justice, the fact he refuses to accept the viability of anything unless its been his idea or he is involved in, doesn’t do him any favours. He is not, despite his best efforts to suggest otherwise, the only answer to crime in this country. He is just one of many very worthwhile people fighting against criminal offending.

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  27. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    Judith

    Restorative Justice yap-fests are a load of socialist, feel-good rubbish which were developed by over educated varsity “experts” as a way to keep arseholes out of prison.

    ….”They also add that it was great to be able to face the offender in a position that made them superior, where frequently during the crime, they had been made to feel weak and pathetic by the offenders actions.”…..

    Words are going to fail me! No one can be made to feel inferior by the actions of a crim.

    You have to do that to yourself….if you’re so inclined.

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  28. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    @ MT_Tinman (2,971 comments) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I would like to see suspended sentences used again, especially with young offenders who are not yet habitual criminals. Putting them on a sort of behaviour bond, allowing them the chance to improve themselves, and only convicting and enforcing the full sentence if they refuse to do that, would be a far better way of dealing with youth offending in my opinion.

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  29. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    nasska (10,518 comments) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Perhaps inferior is the wrong word. I’m not sure of a single word that describes how an elderly woman might feel when she doesn’t have the power to stop someone from stealing her jewellery right in front of her (real case where she was unable to hold the young man back, although he didn’t bash her). She used the words that she felt so weak and useless. But that particular lady had her day, and managed to reduce that offender to a blithering tearful mess when she told him about how he had made her feel, and what the items he had stolen had meant to her – their history etc.

    Have you ever taken part in one nasska?

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  30. instafacetwit (12 comments) says:

    What would the SST’s take be on this if the $50k was not forthcoming? We are not South Africa, are we? Do we want to be?

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  31. nasska (10,696 comments) says:

    ….”Have you ever taken part in one nasska?”…..

    Never have….never will. As I’ve stated before they’re a load of “touchy-feely” garbage designed by & for a load of mad feminists.

    But if you think they’re what you would prefer, great, so long as there’s never a hint that all complainants should be involved or expected to be involved.

    Whatever blows your dress up. :)

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  32. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    @ nasska (10,519 comments) says:
    July 15th, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Well, I have to say, until you’ve actually experienced one, I’m not sure how you can say they are just touchy feely stuff. The ones I’ve taken part in certainly weren’t. Unlike the court room, where the victims are restricted in what they say, in the RJ conference, they are not – and the ones I’ve witnessed, they haven’t held back. They’ve also had the ability to ask questions, like why did you do this etc. And, sometimes the offenders parents have been there and the victim has been able to tell them how they have been made feel (in very expletive language) and ask then questions about the way they have raised their child to do whatever they did and so on.

    I’m sure maybe some are a bit touchy, but none that I’ve experienced were. But it does depend on the crime of course, some are just not suited.

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  33. Murth (27 comments) says:

    I find it very hard to take anything Garth McVicar says seriously. McVicar is still peddling the claim that allowing same sex marriage will increase the crime rate! SST has been sensible enough to distance themselves but even so it does leave doubts about McVicar’s competence to talk on other public issues. Apparently allowing two same sex individuals to enter into the most stable social structure in our society….

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  34. Tauhei Notts (1,612 comments) says:

    Nasska and Judith;
    I attended a restorative justice meeting with an offender after my office was burgled and the loss came to about $600.
    Nasska’s comments are closer to the truth than Judith’s comments.

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  35. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    @ Tauhei Notts (1,592 comments) says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 8:18 am

    You forgot to add “in your particular situation”. You’ve attended one – I’ve attended more than 20 – and whilst not all were successful, and could be judged as touchy feely, the majority were not like that, and successful because the victim benefited from them.

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  36. HB (288 comments) says:

    I don’t know about the effectiveness of restorative justice at the criminal level (as some of you say, it is often too late by then) but it works reasonably well in a school setting.
    From my personal experience I would say the kid who has done wrong would often prefer the old punitive way of dealing with a situation (detention, etc) as they don’t have to face up to the person they have ‘hurt’ (not usually physically hurt in a school situation…). A few years back the kid would be an arse to someone and then receive a detention and a telling off. Now they still often get the detention but also have to face up to the person they ‘hurt’. Boy, do they squirm. They hate it. It is way more effective. Now they know damage they have done. They are also talked through alternative actions they could have taken to avoid hurting someone else.
    We have seen a huge reduction in repeat bad behaviour and a corresponding increase in respect for others.
    We always respect the rights of the person who has been ‘hurt’ to say no to fronting up to the other though. And there are some kids who for this approach doesn’t work and they keep ‘hurting’ others – but they did this under the old system too. They end up before the board.

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  37. Judith (7,688 comments) says:

    @ HB (281 comments) says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I have heard it is used in the schooling setting with good results.

    In the criminal setting, the offender still goes before the Courts and is still sentenced in the usual manner. They do not escape that, as some believe, and regardless of what has or hasn’t happened, the Courts still act according to their guidelines.

    As you say, facing the victim face to face, and being made aware of the consequences of their actions, seems to work. All to often the offenders never get to hear what their actions have cost people. For example, a family who lost their house because injuries caused to the main income earner meant they could no longer afford the mortgage – a victim that can no longer be left alone, requiring the family to alter their entire schedules and commitments, in order to accommodate the victims fear of being alone, and so on.

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  38. David Garrett (6,463 comments) says:

    HB: I don’t have any doubt about what you say…but the key thing of course is these are kids you are talking about (I don’t know what age you are referring to)…

    By the time you are a recidivist burglar – or worse – in your twenties, I personally think there is not much show, and restorative justice is more likely than not to be a charade the offender goes through to get a reduction in sentence…

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