A top principal has had assault charges against him dropped after a judge ruled he’d been the victim of efforts by his ex-wife to “destroy” him.
Peter Clague, formerly Auckland Kristin School’s executive principal, was the subject of a private prosecution brought by his ex-wife relating to two alleged assaults in 2010.
Jeanne Denham alleged two months after the pair married in 2010 he pushed her to the ground, causing significant bruising to her tailbone after shaking her with force, telling her to “shut the f— up”.
She didn’t lay a formal complaint until 2014 and took a private prosecution against Clague through Queens Counsel Marie Dyhrberg.
Clague’s jury trial began in the Auckland District Court on Monday and on Friday Judge David McNaughton said he was taking the “rare” step of dismissing the charges, following an application from Clague.
His lawyer Mike Lloyd argued there had been an abuse of the court’s process and on Friday afternoon Judge McNaughton told the jury he agreed after an “anxious” night pondering the application.
“This whole prosecution is motivated by an intention on the part of Ms Denham to effectively destroy Mr Clague’s reputation and ruin his career, and to consequently damage Kristin School and possibly also to bring pressure to bear on him in relation to a property claim in the Family Court,” Judge McNaughton said.
He said no properly directed jury would be able to convict Clague.
“No useful purpose would be served to continue prosecuting that charge for what was essentially a non injury assault made five years ago, and complained about two years ago. He’s suffered enough. I’m bringing this to an end now.”
I hadn’t followed this case closely but what I had read alarmed me. The Police are pretty good at laying charges for domestic violence, and the fact they had refused to suggested the evidence wasn’t there. Combine that with waiting for years to complain.
It is very rare for a Judge to stop a trial, but the Judge I think got it right in saying this was about utu and trying to destroy the ex.