So what Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).
But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so. Because if he wants to one day be Minister of Police, he will have to respect and abide by these rules that he’s so cavalierly calling on National Ministers to ignore. Simply put, if he were the Minister, he couldn’t (and shouldn’t) do what he’s saying the National Party Ministers ought to do – which makes his calling for this action deeply disingenuous at best, and something much worse at worst.
Ministers can and should not interfere or comment on individual sentencing decisions, before appeals have been exhausted.
The Minister of Police shouldn’t be commenting of sentences before the appeal period is up in the first place, but criticising a Minister for not holding firm on the proposition that people who assault cops should be charged with the more serious aggravated assault charge (rather than the less serious assault on Police charge) is ridiculous when you are discussing a case where the person pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault.
The key thing here is that Delegat was not charged with the lesser charge of assault on a police officer, but the more serious aggravated assault. All the media have missed this.
So, news media, you suck at this. Why, in the biggest criminal justice story in New Zealand for several days, did not a single news article (well, not a single news article accessible on google news at any rate) mention what the person at the centre of it was actually convicted of? Several news articles mention both Nikolas Delegat and “aggravated assault”, but only ever in the context of it being the charge he originally faced, which appears not to be true..
Stuart Nash, you suck too, assuming that the quotes from you in this Herald article is accurate (and, because I already seem to have forgotten what I’ve just written, my assumption is still that it is). First, you shouldn’t really be calling on the Government, and especially the Minister of Police to interfere with a prosecution, which you are reported as doing here …
Now assaulting a police officer has a maximum six month sentence and aggravated assault is a maximum three year sentence.
I do not think a first time offender should get jail for an ordinary assault. But there are two aspects that make me think it may be warranted in this case.
The first is that Delegat not only pummeled the officer into unconsciousness, but kept hitting here when she was unconscious. This is a desire to inflict serious damage on her. Permanent brain damage could occur. Even being knocked unconscious can have long-term effects, let alone being punched once you have gone unconscious.
This to me is quite different to throwing some punches in a fight, or even punching an officer to prevent them arresting you (still deplorable). He carried on just to inflict as much damage as possible.
The second factor is touched on by Geddis:
Delegat’s attempt to deflect responsibility for his actions away from himself and towards the “rather out-of-control drinking culture” at Otago carry echoes of the statement to court from the rapist (and former Stanford University student) Brock Turner. In seeking to minimise his offending, Turner pointed to “the party culture and risk taking behavior that I briefly experienced in my four months at [University]”
Don’t blame the drinking culture. Blame yourself.
UPDATE: Whoops typo in the headline. Should of course be shut up not shit up 🙂