I blogged Friday on the pillow attack case and quoted the Herald story which said:
The judge also blasted the police as “ridiculous” and “petty” for bringing action against Mr Taylor.
And I commented:
This is the aspect that will cause more legitimate concern amongst opponents of the anti-smacking law. The Government and PM puts great stock in the discretion available to Police. When you see the Police applying such discretion badly, it makes you nervous.
Now Police HQ have sent me a response to the Herald story, that is worth quoting:
A media report last night stated Police were petty and ridiculous in charging a man with throwing a cushion at a child.
Police were called to a family violence incident involving Mr Taylor on New Years Eve last year. Police were told Mr Taylor had assaulted a seven year old child, was intoxicated and refusing to leave the address. Occupants of the house were frightened of him and were found outside by Police on arrival.
Mr Taylor has a long history of alcohol, drug abuse and family violence which was a factor in laying the charge.
An assault had taken place on a child who was not involved in the original dispute which was between the Mother and Mr Taylor. Taylor refused to leave the address and left Police with no option but resolve the matter by arresting him.
An arrest does indeed seem justified in that case.
The charges initially laid by police were legally correct. An alleged assault had been committed on a child. On the information provided by the complainant and witnesses present, the assault was neither trifling nor trivial. The child had made a complaint that the assault had caused him pain, and redness to his forehead, that he has been whacked.
The defence counsel elected trial by jury and made no attempt to negotiate a lesser charge as indicated by the Judge.
The charge was later independently reviewed by the Crown Solicitor after Mr Taylor was committed for trial. The Crown laid an indictment for the same charge.
The Judges decision to discharge the matter under Crimes Act 1961 s.347(2) was available in the circumstances. However, Police would point out it was the defence tactic to take a relatively minor case to trial where it could have been concluded in the summary jurisdiction. The case was laid in the summary jurisdiction and would have been disposed of as the Judge had suggested should have happened, had there not been an election of trial by the defence. In addition, the application under s347 could have been made by the defence at any point prior to the hearing. The application was brought by the Judge on the day of trial.
Also useful context to the story.
The TVNZ report stated police were petty and ridiculous. This comment was not made by the presiding Judge who did not criticise the police laying a charge in respect of this case. Rather, the Judge formed the view that the case could have been resolved with a lesser, included charge, which was unavailable to the Crown due to the election of the defence of a trial by jury.
This is quite a different impression to that of the original stories. Good to see the Police being proactive with their version of events.
I wonder if any of the media that ran the original story, have run the Police response? As far as I can tell, they have not.