Name Suppression incidence lowers since law change in 2012

I copped 9 convictions in 2010 for breaking name suppression.

The left-wing likes to hold that against me, and others, but I forced a law change and that law change has led to less people getting name suppression.

Silence can help keep secrets hidden, buried away where no one can find them.

But for New Plymouth woman Rose (not her real name), sunlight has been the best disinfectant for her family, following the court conviction of a man charged with the sexual abuse of people closely connected to her.

Rose accepts she cannot be named in order to ensure that the identities of the victims involved are protected.

But she rejects the idea that people convicted of any crime should be able to remain undercover, protected by court ordered suppression.

In her case, Austin Herbert Mayo, the man charged and convicted of sex crimes involving Rose’s loved ones, is not included in that group.

Last month, he was convicted of nine charges of indecent assault following a jury trial in the Auckland District Court.

The offending was committed between 1971-1981, at a time when Mayo lived in Taranaki. He is due to be sentenced later this month.

While Mayo’s name and convictions are now a matter of public record, other offenders dealt with in New Zealand courts are still managing to keep their deeds under wraps.

See, it can work by suppressing just a victim’s names and details.

According to Ministry of Justice figures to the year ending June 2015, offenders charged with sexual abuse are the most likely cohort to get name suppression, followed by cases involving serious violence.

Of the 358 cases where a permanent name suppression order was granted across all of New Zealand’s courts, 112 of  them were for sex related crimes.

Suppression of an offender’s name is sometimes granted to protect the victim’s identity, especially if they share the same surname.  By law, sexual abuse victims have their names and details automatically protected.

But other factors can also be argued, such as the hardship it would cause the defendant and their family should their name get out.

While names alone can be suppressed, a judge can also ban the publication of a person’s age, job or any details discussed at a court hearing.

But Rose says the public’s right to know is more important than any consequences for the offender should their name be released.

“By knowing, people can protect themselves,” said Rose.

Not letting the public know the names of offenders is, she says, like playing a game of “Russian roulette” with people’s safety.

Often there are other victims and by publicising the convicted abuser other victims come forward.

A 2012 law change tightened up the rules and raised the bar regarding the threshold offenders have to meet to be granted suppression.

This included the introduction of a “extreme hardship” test, where a defendant needed to prove the extent of duress it would cause if their name was out in the public domain.

Since the changes, there has been a  dramatic drop in the numbers of offenders being granted permanent name suppression in Taranaki and across the country, according to Ministry of Justice data.

Between 2004-2011, 1,331 offenders were granted permanent name suppression in the New Plymouth and Hawera district courts.

But since 2013, only 17 defendants were given the same protection in New Plymouth and only one in Hawera.

The law change is working…it needs to be tightened some more. There are some people who attack me over the campaign I ran that changed the law. Some of those are before the courts right now for the same offences. Thankfully the law tightened the penalties, and they certainly weren’t running a campaign to change a law, they were running a campaign to get people they don’t like. They will face the penalty in due course…hopefully their suppression won’t continue indefinitely when that happens. That way we can all see what sanctimonious hypocrites they all have been.

 

– Fairfax


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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.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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