Christie’s law based on court incompetency | The Jackal

24 Jun 2017

Christie’s law based on court incompetency

The killing of Christie Marceau was a very terrible thing, not least of all because it could have been prevented if the court system wasn't incompetent. Amongst other things, that’s one of the findings the inquest into her murder should conclude.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Christie Marceau inquest: the trail to tragedy

Stace was the duty prosecutor on the day of Chand's bail hearing and was tasked with advocating the police position.

The opposition to bail form filed on the day of his first appearance still stood - but more information was given to her before the October 5 hearing.

That information included a map showing the proximity of Chand's house where he wanted to be bailed to, and the Marceau house.

The properties are within a kilometre of each other and Christie could see her attacker's home from her deck.

Detective Aaron Iremonger also supplied Stace with a transcript of Chand's preliminary police interview which had "full admissions" of his offending against Christie.

In the interview Chand spoke about revenge, and Iremonger felt it showed he still posed a huge risk to Christie.
Emails went back and forward from Iremonger and Pell, the original prosecutor who was not working the day of the hearing, and Stace.

The men told her that it was "imperative" Chand not get bail and they wanted her to push hard and present the new information.

When Stace arrived in court she tried to hand the new information to the judge through the registrar, but was told if she was to rely on it, she could bring it up in the hearing.

Unbelievable! A court registrar is duty bound to provide the judge with all relevant evidence when it’s presented by the Police to the court.

If this claim by duty prosecutor Rhona Stace is true it means that the registrar is in breach of their duty to assist the judge, and should be sacked.

When the hearing began, she did not present it.

She said the opposition to bail form had already covered the salient points police wanted to make, and coupled with Christie's letter, was strong enough and adequate.

When the hearing started, Stace said it was "immediately apparent" Judge McNaughton was "not interested" in hearing further information from police.

Disgraceful! If the Judge didn’t allow new evidence to be presented and appeared to be biased in favour of the killer, that would be grounds for that Judge to be dismissed.

Unfortunately it's unlikely that the courts will look at changing their procedures to ensure such an unfortunate evidential travesty of justice doesn't occur again.

"Instead, His Honour was now focused on Mr Chand's treatment and the ability of mental health services to manage him at home on strict bail conditions."

Stace defended herself at the inquest, saying she did her job on the day and it would not have been appropriate to push the judge further.

In fact, it would have been a suggestion of "incompetence".

Clearly somebody within the justice system was incompetent. Either the Judge, the registrar or the duty prosecutor through procedural bungling or disabling conflicts of interest utterly failed to protect Christie Marceau.

"It was absolutely crystal clear to the court what our concerns were," she told the inquest.

"The court... was well aware of the grounds for the opposition... it (the map and transcript) simply wasn't relevant.

I have to totally disagree there. The new evidence was relevant because it clearly showed that there was an immediate threat to Christie if Akshay Chand was released on bail. That’s why Detective Aaron Iremonger and senior prosecutor Adam Pell were adamant that the new evidence must be presented.

The fact that Sergeant Rhona Stace thinks the evidence wasn’t relevant makes it appear that it was her decision not to present it to the Judge, and not the courts decision to essentially decline it being accepted.

There’s no question in my mind that if the Judge received and properly considered that new evidence a different outcome would have been achieved… an outcome that would have likely saved Christie Marceau’s life.

That makes the claims by people with vested interests like Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust that it was a failure of our bail laws and not a failure of the duty prosecutor, the registrar or the Judge on the day, completely incorrect.

Clearly the only thing the bail laws are to blame for in New Zealand is contributing to our already overcrowded jail cells. Inconsistency from the parole board is also a concern when considering ways to reduce incarceration and increase rehabilitation rates, which is something the National led government has utterly failed to achieve.

Obviously reducing the ability of non-violent offenders to achieve bail isn’t going to bring Christie back or save any other young lives. It will however increase the already huge burden on society from an ever-increasing prison population and mean many more families are destroyed by a system solely focused on never ending cycles of punishment.