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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  • Apolonia

    Sack her, let her become a social worker so she can hug crims full time.

  • Macca

    This is FUCKEN PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!! Less than two years for beating up an old lady!!!!!! What the fuck is wrong with these judges? Over in the US, he probably would have got 10 years with no parole as he had a rap sheet on him like the bloody Magna Carta!
    When are these judges going to wake up and smell the coffee! These weak sentences aren’t deterrents, their nothing but a disgrace! Nearly as bad as that piss weak statement that prison wouldn’t help his alcohol problem – of course it bloody will!!!! The pathetic peice of excrement won’t be able to drink and will have to dry out – problem solved until he’s out in 8 months and does the same thing again! My bloods boiling!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sym Gardiner

    Got to be fair. If the three strikes rule applies to crimes. Let it apply to judges.

    • Bad__Cat

      My thought exactly! This should be strike 1 for the crim, strike 2 for the judge.

  • spollyike

    Only in PC old NZ do the criminals have more rights than the victims. Lock her up till her own criminal behavior is corrected.

    Didn’t used to be this way, it’s only been since the socialist baby boomers marched through the institutions that things have gone soft. Everyone has “feelings” and “rights” now even scum bags, in fact they’re victims of institutionalised racism don’t ya know.

    • unsol

      very true

    • MarkF

      “Only in PC old NZ”. Unfortunately NO. “Most” of the countries of the west seem to suffer from the malaise.

      • spollyike

        Agreed, but due to our isolation from any form of counter-culture or counter-narrative to the PC ideology, we are one of the worst. At least Oz has the population to produce a counter faction with some momentum. NZ in it’s isolation is like a socialist experiment in a bubble, gone terribly wrong. Our ancestors maori and non-maori alike would be ashamed at what we have allowed to happen.

        • MarkF

          You do have a point but this malaise is still creeping over far to much of planet. The UK and Europe spring to mind, crims have more “rights” than victims seems “face about arse” to me.

  • williamabong

    Simple just appoint judges for a fixed time frame and have a review panel consisting of lay people and cops as well as the legal profession to decide weather they fly or die at the end of their term.
    As long as the legal profession is judge, jury, and executioner for itself we will be dished up the same crap from our courts, and the “old boys club” will continue to rule.
    Public expectation as to sentence length and severity, should be a major factor in determining if these people remain on the bench, and the softcocks should get the arse card.

    • AXjarv

      It is now an “old girls club”

      • spollyike

        Yeah, old rancid dried up mingas that probably vote green.

        • williamabong

          You had to say that didn’t you, now I’ve chucked up all over my computer.

    • peterwn

      NZ would then have to allow ex- High Court judges to return to legal practice, which is currently not allowed – they can only set up arbitrator/ mediator practices (or similar) or play lots of golf..

      • williamabong

        Golf is the preferred option, gets the washed up old farts and fartesses out of the system and gone

        • spollyike

          Fuck off, the old mingas are too slow to play golf! It has to be the most frustrating thing in the world (except listening to Metiria speak) waiting for four old hags to putt out!

          • williamabong

            Was that putt out or put out, I hope it was the first option.

          • spollyike

            Hey, now you made me vomit!

    • James

      The review panel will just as wishy washy as the profession as a whole. Judges act on behalf of the population as a whole to decide on the application of law and sentencing – they should therefore be elected by, and answerable to, the population as a whole.

      • williamabong

        I agree, there has to be a starting point somewhere, this constant inconsistency of the current system is a weapons grade clusterfuck,
        seems if it is a “white” collar crime, something minor like stealing the nest egg of whole group of old people, or running down another motorist in a road rage attack you get the Club Med sentence, blue collar crims seem to do less well but the sentencing system still seem out of whack with public expectation, perhaps not belonging to the right club has something to do with this.

  • blokeintakapuna

    Maybe she should have to house and supervise those she lets out early?
    Or is that a classic case of NIMBYism?

    I wonder what would have happened if the old lady had been Philippa’s mum?

    • spollyike

      Yeah, i wonder what Phillipa’s mum (assuming she’s still around) thought of the sentence her daughter gave? Being of an older generation i don’t think she’d be impressed.

  • Rangi

    No good sending him to prison apparently – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/8766782/Fine-dining-behind-Rimutaka-Prison-bars – home is probably less appealing than 3 squares & a temperature controlled, air conditioned environment.

    • Patrick

      Yeah but at least he will not be roaming the countryside knocking over little old ladies for a few years while he is banged up. Forget the punishment aspect, consider the safety of the public.

      • Rangi

        Suppose, but Im doubtful a year (with good behaviour) inside will do much for rehabilitation of this douche.
        Better to leave him in a room with the old ladies sons & grandsons for a bit of “pure & healing rehabilitation” then patch him up & send him back to his non-taxpayer funded (I presume) “home”.

        • Patrick

          Sorry I thought he had got longer in the pokie – 1 year ain’t enough for that crime…

        • spollyike

          Rangi, we know maori are over-represented in the NZ justice system. In Oz northern territory they practice Tribal punishment which is described as:

          Aboriginal tribal law is often seen as harsh and brutal, but it ensured order and discipline. Payback is the most known form of customary law. Payback has survived until today and is still practiced…We tend to assume that tribal law and payback are things of the past but they are far from that. They say, “Quite often we have seen the white man’s laws become useless and inadequate in handing out exact justice. So Ancient Law takes over. It is still alive in our country and we still manage it the way we have done for 40,000 years.”

          If responsibilty of passing sentence and justice to maori offenders was given to maori elders do you think they would use the traditional maori forms of punishment from the pre and early colonial days (as the aboriginals have)?

          Some of the tribal punishments were much more harsh than under “white mans” law.

          • Rangi

            A bit off topic but OK I let the repetitive & insulting intro slide because you raise an interesting point. I suppose (and I am no authority) that there would be specific & targeted punishment for infringement of tribal laws. Taken into account would be the impact your family has had on the community, past grievances & insults to authority figures and of course, severity of the crime. None of these mitigating factors are considered by our justice system, rightly so as we move away from tribalism. But this would seem counter intuitive given the push back to tribalism as Iwi & Hapu fortify commercial positions.

            Im of the view we could be more targeted with our punitive sentences because the community has not necessarily been wronged, the victim or business has. Why don’t they get a say in the punishment rather than a bullshit “Impact statement”? We could be more honest with ourselves too. Custodial punishment has a more pronounced effect on the wider family of the crim but not so much on the victim who is after appeasement for their suffrage and healing to recapture normal life. This is why you see sentences halved for good behaviour – big, strong gesture upfront, only to be blown to bits by behaviour we know to be contrived whilst incarcerated & the crim quietly paroled.

            Current allowances for credits for early guilty pleas, rehearsed expressions of remorse, etc for sentencing are far too arbitrary, and empower falible judiciary far too much. I reckon you’ll find most people would agree with that view.

            So yeah, there’s a bit of room for Tribal rehabilitation I reckon.

          • spollyike

            Yes i think tribal sentences would be more targeted and personal. Which may motivate the offender to reform as he gets to see the impact on the victims life first hand and is given the opportunity to directly make amends. If he refuses, well the aboriginals still have spearing in the thigh, and the death penalty. I’m pretty sure the death penalty was popular in maori tribal justice also.

          • Mark

            I’m totally open for a parallel justice system if the Maori authorities’ punishment is harsher than the Pakeha Court’s. A few swings of the taiaha across the head might be just the tonic.

          • Bad__Cat

            Yeah, best to let the intro slide. That way you can pretend its not happening.

  • Mark

    Hey, has anyone watched Jono and Ben at Ten on TV 3? It’s quite funny and certainly funnier than anything else Ben has done.

    • unsol

      No, I don’t like one of their friends/producers……

      And you’re probably best to self-censor that comment….it’s not fair on WO

      And just so we are clear….neither of those two are the child molesters. He no longer works on screen….yet some still seem to think he is employable.

      • Mark

        What on earth are you referring to unsol?

  • MrAuz1989

    The closest NZ has ever come to removing a Judge was as, far as I know, Justice W B Edwards last century. His fault was, as a meeting of the profession in Auckland resolved, ” a want of courtesy and impartiality” to lawyers and their Clients. Eventually he was transferred to Wellington. Apparently, until the day he retired, whenever he sat as a judge, he had a copy of the resolution and a copy of the textbook “Oswald on Contempt” sitting in front of him on the off chance a signatory to the resolution appeared before him.

  • Phar Lap

    Wait there is more.It was reported in yesterdays media also.She allowed a person who took on the identification theft of nine students, and applied for thousands of taxpayer funded student loans.A complete scam and fraud.The punishmen,t four and a half months of home detention.FFS.

  • Bunswalla

    “Judge Philippa Cunningham Cunningham” LOLZ – FFS Horrid can’t you even get a simple thing like a dud judge’s name right?

    Unless it’s all a horrid mistake and her maiden name was Cunningham and married her brother.

    • blokeintakapuna

      They’re not married no more – but at least they can still be cousins…

      • richard.b

        If shes not good enough for her own family, shes not good enough for ours!

        • tarkwin

          No problem in Dargaville.

  • The concept of an independent judiciary is just a PR smokescreen to enable them to act without criticism from the people.
    Funnily enough, the people spinning that line about how we need independent judges would be the first to emphasise the importance of democratic accountability, except when it comes to judges application of sentencing laws and what the public thinks of wet bus tickets.

  • out2lunch

    As a child rape sympathiser, she has no place in the judiciary system.

  • Dave

    Far from me trying to put the frighteners on the judges, but, how bout they face some reality………

    Phillipa, I want you to cast your mind forward say, 20 years when you are an OLD woman, and some thug is likely to beat you for $10. Just think, if you had have sentenced him to 5 years hard labour when you were a judge…….., he might have learnt his lesson.

    You are setting the standards today, which will keep the society you, your family, the community and the rest of us are retiring into SAFE. Please think carefully.

    • unsol

      “Just think, if you had have sentenced him to 5 years hard labour when you were a judge…….., he might have learnt his lesson”

      “might have” being the operative words.

      Some never & can never learn their lesson…10 years for many is 10 years to learn new tricks.

      • Dave

        I agree completely, but what is a viable alternative to locking them up, removing one finger for every year sentenced, or eery time they repeat the same crime. Spooly has a point on Tribal sentencing below, it works well mostly, and some offenders ask for white mans law as the tribal sentencing can be quite harsh, few reoffend!!

        What is the solution Unsol ?? (not suggesting there is one total solution, withthe exception of a bullet) :)

        • unsol

          Locking up earlier & for longer – e.g. take notice of research & look at what the starting point is for most of these criminals & go from there.

          In conjunction with this, take egg/sperm donors who fail to feed, clothe, house (including bedding) their kids properly to task along with increasing punishment for those who abuse (seuxally & physically) their kids.

          Lastly step up data sharing between NGOS & govt agencies so that the response to at risk kids & their families is co-ordinated, efficient & swift – plunker all the way through to child care, school.

          And extend new laws to hold parents, their families & communities more responsible if they are aware of abuse & do nothing.

          What about you? What are your ideas?

          • Dave

            100% agreement on every point, but lets accept that in MOST cases, the penalties need to be effective from 12 or 13, no more bullshit off to YOuth offenders for the slap with a wet bus ticket and sent back to their criminal family for a well done (in a lot of cases)

            At 12 or 13 they either know right from wrong, or never will so let them feel the force of law and realize there is no sympathy for their crimes.

          • unsol

            Absolutely – and as they are minors charge the parents as well.

            Actually that is a great idea – every parent or legal caregiver (even if shared with the govt re Ward of the State) of a minor who commits a crime should be prosecuted too.

            Let’s face it – imprisonment is cheaper than state housing + accom supplement + benefit & community service card etc

          • Dave

            Ah, one very major drawback with the Govt ward of state. Imagine an individual with a criminal streak, as his (or her) offspring gets to 10, pushes them on to become a ward of the state as they dont want to be responsible. Always, always hold the parents responsible.

            Cut benefits, take their cars, furniture, drugs etc when their offspring offend, but always hold parents responsible. Might make them that little bit more responsible in how they raise their children!

          • unsol

            A child being a Ward of the State doesn’t have to mean the responsibility shifts from the egg/sperm donors. The State can allow them to retain custody/guardianship or grant it back to them.

            That said, if the child has been out of their care then the responsibility falls on their legal guardian – so foster parent or whoever.

            It would mean whoever is bringing up the child has to take responsibility for them in every possible way.

            This includes being charged with neglect if they send their child to school without breakfast or do not provide proper clothing & bedding (urine stained mattress on the floor doesn’t cut it).

            Make the law super tough & I bet some kids would think twice about choosing to get up the duff when they have barely completely level 1 NCEA (or school C in my day!)

          • Dave

            Whats School C ???

      • Jonathan Pull

        Locking up a first time (often impressionable) offender in a cage with career criminals isn’t the best move (im not suggesting we dont lock them away), what are they going to be talking about? Bragging about how they did this crime, how they got away with the crime and when they leave prison they are further schools in the ways of crime. The certainly do learn a lesson but is it the right one.

        • spollyike

          Yeah, prison is just tertiary education for criminals.

          How come they get a free education??

          • Jonathan Pull

            They need to go somewhere and as a country we don’t have the cash to be building new prisons but perhaps (in a perfect world) first time offenders (unless there are circumstances i.e type of crime committed) would be housed and kept away from career criminals and some form of rehabilitation be it education or something else applied.

        • unsol

          I agree – it’s a tricky balance. Locking up people is one aspect that needs to happen but too often it is the only thing people concentrate on.

          Yet the recidivist rates here & massively high crime rate in places like the USA where they imprison more people than anyone else in the world (I think!) tells us that it is not always the best solution.

          • Bad__Cat

            What s happened to Borstal? When I was a teen a mate got sent there – it was a facility for young first offenders. I think if they didn’t offend again it didn’t count as a criminal record.

          • unsol

            I don’t think we have ever had a Borstal here……and anything similar tended to have far greater consequences. Take the Lower Hutt one where the wardens or whatever they were called used to beat & rape the young boys regularly.

            Im all for such facilities including Childrens Homes, but there needs to be real measures in place to ensure that the children actually have a fighting chance of becoming well-adjusted happy healthy adults.

            Currently we have half way houses with young sex offenders…as young as 8 years old….with caregivers in charge who have no clues with how to deal with children who have suffered & often committed seriously traumatic things.

  • nostrils

    for fuck’s sake, there can’t be anyone left who doesn’t know who the “comedian” is…..

    • spollyike

      Don’t worry nostrils, just wait till all these comedians are old and grey and half of them will probably get done for sex crimes of some sort. Just like the UK, our entertainers are pretty fucked up in general.

  • Kopua Cowboy

    I’ll give this prick an “element of inhumanity”!