McVicar to stand for the Conservatives

August 7th, 2014 at 12:35 pm by David Farrar

Garth McVicar, the highly effective founder of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, will be a candidate for the Conservative Party. He is taking a leave of absence from the SST.

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 Garth McVicar 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.

Coroner on Greg King

October 18th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Top lawyer Greg King took his life, depressed, burnt-out, and haunted by the dead from the cases he had known.

Coroner Garry Evans has released his findings into the death of King, 43, whose body was found on November 3, last year, in Dungarvan Rd, Newlands, Wellington, not far from his Mercedes car.

In the car was a typewritten note that began:

“To everyone: How can I explain the unexplainable?”

It said that after nearly 20 years as a defence lawyer he was burnt out, disillusioned and depressed.

“He says he is haunted by the dead from his numerous homicide cases and hates himself for what he has done,” Evans said.

“He says he has been genuinely torn between doing his job and his conscience, which keeps asking him ‘Is this really what you want to be doing?'”

I don’t think I could be a criminal defence attorney. I admire those who can, because it is vital defendants get fair trials and are only found guilty if there is no reasonable doubt. But I would personally struggle with defending those accused of certain vile crimes. I think I would struggle to cope, as Greg King obviously did. It is a mark of his humanity that just performing his role caused him such anguish (not to suggest those without such anguish are  inhumane).

In his finding, Evans mostly paraphrases the note in which King spoke of the experiences with criminals that had dulled his human senses and the victims of serious crime who affected him profoundly.

What a sad loss.

Milnes-King had told the coroner her husband had a massive breakdown in June, 2012, the night after delivering his closing address for Ewen Macdonald in the Scott Guy murder trial.

The trial had taken a substantial toll on him and his breakdown was the most intense she had seen, going on for hours whereas he would usually be able to pick himself up.

In a sense he is a further victim of that tragedy,

In the week before King’s death, The Dominion Post’s investigative reporter Phil Kitchin had approached King about an allegation from a disgruntled former client of irregularities in legal aid billing.

The Ministry of Justice, which administers legal aid, had found King’s legal aid bill for the client’s case had been “well within” the range of what was reasonable and to be expected but in King’s absence the investigation could not be taken further.

A senior police officer who investigated King’s death thought that, in King’s frame of mind at the time, the thought of a media circus over legal aid could have felt overwhelming, but Milnes-King thought her husband was unlikely to have been unduly worried by the allegations made against him.

I think it was probably a factor, but not a determinative factor. The Herald reports:

The police officer who investigated Mr King’s death, Detective Inspector Paul Basham, said he had investigated matters involving Dominion Post investigative reporter Phil Kitchin, who was looking into allegations made against Mr King by a former client.

The disgruntled client had alleged irregularities in legal aid billing.

But he said Ms Milnes-King believed her husband was unlikely to have been unduly bothered by the allegations, and there was no mention in the suicide note.

Kitchin gave evidence he had contacted Mr King on November 1, two days before Mr King was found dead, but described their conversation as “cordial, courteous, professional and polite”.

He told Mr King it was possible he would not publish a story.

What would be interesting to know is whether or not a story was written and was in the system, so to speak. But I think it is far to conclude that the inquiries by the Dominion Post were not a major factor, and were not improper. Of course it is all speculation, as we don’t know exactly what led to the sad decision, but the lack of any mention in the suicide note is influential.

Ms Milnes-King said her husband had helped a lot of individuals and organisations on a pro bono basis, and had a charitable spirit which saw him engaged with numerous groups.

“He represented clients for free and made many unpaid trips to the West Coast acting for the Pike River contractors who were left out of pocket after the tragedy.

“This is an extremely difficult time for our family. With the first anniversary of Greg’s death in a few weeks, we trust people fully understand and respect our need for private time.”

Sensible Sentencing Trust’s Garth McVicar said New Zealand had lost one of the greatest men he had the good fortune to meet.

“Greg gave his time willingly and freely to assist many of the families and victims within the wider Sensible Sentencing Trust family,” Mr McVicar said.

“Greg’s knowledge of the law, his passion for people from all walks of life and his drive to leave society better than he found it was unique and irreplaceable.’

Such a glowing tribute to a defence lawyer from the Sensible Sentencing Trust shows how special Greg King was.  The only good to come out of this will be more people confronting their depression and mental health issues at an early stage to avoid further situations like this.

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 Garth McVicar.

Defence lawyer Nigel Hewat, 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.

Oh dear

January 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Kirsty Johnston at Stuff reports:

Crime will rise if gay couples are allowed to marry, says the head of the country’s victim lobby group.

Sensible Sentencing Trust leader Garth McVicar has submitted to Parliament that changing the law to allow same-sex marriage will be yet another erosion of basic morals and values in society which have led to an escalation of child abuse, domestic violence, and an ever-increasing prison population.

Oh dear. Garth is quite entitled to his views on the issue, but linking same sex marriage to child abuse, domestic violence and increasing prison numbers is bizarre – to put it mildly.

People claimed the same thing in 1986 when homosexual law reform occurred. They were wrong. I predict that once same sex marriage is allowed, the only impact on society will be a few more couples will be married.