Christchurch Name Suppression

I did a brief interview with Radio New Zealand on the Christchurch case. I think it highlights the limitations of such orders. Name suppression is in place for a man who only a few days earlier was named in the media as wanted for questioning.

Now as Whale has pointed out with dozens of links, his name is all over the Internet, including the Police’s own website.  The Internet doesn’t allow for collective amnesia very well. If his name was in the news just the day before, it will be simple for people to find it.

In this case the Judge turned down name suppression, but defence counsel is appealing, which means interim suppression must be granted. I have no idea what the defence hopes to achieve.

I am not anti name suppression in all cases. It works very well in most family court cases. It doesn’t work well when the person is well known, and it doesn’t work well when the name was all over the media in the days  before suppression was granted.

Related to this, the Sunday News reveals:

The man at the centre of the investigation into Vanessa Pickering’s death had been questioned about the unsolved murder of a Christchurch prostitute.

The man, who has interim name suppression, was among those quizzed during the Mellory Manning inquiry, Detective Inspector Greg Williams said.

Manning was found dead in the Avon River just over a year ago.

That information is, in my opinion, far more likely to prejudice a jury and risk there not being a fair trial. If it goes to trial over Pickering’s death, and jurors recall he was questioned over another death, that will incraese the chances of a guilty verdict as who wants to let out a potential serial killer (note I am not saying he is – I am saying this is what jurors will fear).

So maybe instead of trying to supress the name, they should have suppressed the information about being questioned during the Manning inquiry. I wonder if this info was already public, and why did the Police release it or confirm it?

The SST also looks at whether the secrecy is putting the public at risk:

New Zealand’s name suppression laws are under fresh scrutiny, with two recent cases revealing the difficulties authorities such as police or schools face if they wish to protect the public from harm.

Last week, the Sunday Star-Times reported that a top Auckland primary school was unable to inform parents that one of its teachers had been accused of sex crimes against boys, as the man had interim name suppression.

Now, court documents show police were hindered by the name suppression granted to a man who was last year convicted of intentionally injecting his wife with HIV-infected blood.

The man was last month sentenced to eight years’ jail for the crime, but the Star-Times has learnt the man also had unprotected sex with a number of other women before his arrest. Police wanted to inform the women of the man’s offending and his HIV status to encourage them to seek HIV tests but were unable to do so because he had name suppression.

Not good.

On a related case, I reported from another blog that the person in the Palmerston North child porn case had his office in the same building as an unnamed early childhood centre. It turns out this is not the case, so any Palmie parents do not need to be concerned about any institution there.

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