What does it take to get rid of a dud judge?

Dud judges cause no end of grief. But what does it take to get rid of dud judges.

Take Philippa Cunningham…she is the judge who thought “The Comedian” child sex offender should be discharged without conviction because amongst other things he “makes people laugh”. That decision was overturned on appeal after the Crown challenged Cunningham’s original sentence. He was then sentenced to 8 months home detention.

Now Cunningham is making news again with another of her pathetic sentences overturned.

A man who was sentenced to home detention after permanently disabling an elderly woman when he robbed her at an Auckland shopping mall has had his home-based sentenced quashed and a prison sentence of more than twice the original length imposed.

Darrin Murphy Fidow was originally sentenced to nine months’ home detention after being convicted on aggravated robbery and burglary charges.   

The Solicitor-General appealed against the sentence last month and today, the Court of Appeal quashed it and replaced it with a sentence of one year and 11 months’ imprisonment.

At the Appeal of Court hearing, Crown lawyer Megan Inwood said sentencing Judge Phillippa Cunningham Cunningham erred in calculating the sentence length, which resulted in the sentence being “manifestly inadequate”.

Fidow’s lawyer Peter Winter said there were mitigating factors that should be taken into account such as Fidow immediately showing police where he had hidden Mrs Sutcliffe’s bag, which still had some money inside it.

Mr Winter said the motive for Fidow stealing the bag was to buy alcohol and if he was sentenced to jail, his alcohol issues would not be addressed.

Justices Goddard, O’Regan and Dobson agreed the sentence was inadequate, but they noted the “element of inhumanity” in sentencing someone who had escaped prison in the first instance.

“However, that result is justified where an error in principal warrants reconsideration of the entire sentencing exercise, and a sentence of imprisonment is the inevitable consequence of correcting that error.

Nearly two years in prison is better than 9 months, but only just. This scum bag should have got more.

Philippa Cunningham though remains a dud judge.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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