Is one white crow enough?

…that young person – the son of a rich-lister, Nikolas Delegat – attacks a female police officer and punches her unconscious and is sentenced to 500-odd hours of community work and a paltry $5000 in reparations. She was off work for two months.

Try doing that to a police officer in the United States, Canada, Germany or even Australia and you’d be doing serious jail time.

I’ve been critical of the Delegat sentence this week but top Queens Counsels (the lawyers rich people use) have told me to pull my head in and that this is entirely consistent with sentencing in this country.

If that’s true then maybe the justice system is out of step with what we all want as citizens.

Labour MP Stuart Nash broke convention to criticise the Delegat sentence, saying it was too light. Police Association president Greg O’Connor went further, suggesting that if Delegat was brown he’d be in jail.

But they’re all wrong too, according to the legal eagles.

So if they’re wrong, maybe it’s time to change the system and hand out tougher sentences for first-time violent thugs – and definitely cop bashers.

Because in this case perhaps the Judge couldn’t send Delegat to jail. The police ended up charging him with assault, rather than aggravated assault. This baffles me.

Our laws and sentencing options must reflect the revolting and despicable act of bashing a police officer unconscious – male or female.

Was it easier to get a conviction for assault? Did it save the Crown some money? This is deeply troubling

So is it consistent with other sentences?

Four Pakeha teenagers were sentenced in 2014 to various lengths of home detention, 300 hours of community work and monetary reparations after going on a burglary spree totalling nearly $80,000.

They stole four boats, fishing gear and outboard motors. Former Labour MP Dover Samuels described the sentence as “inadequate”. Social media said they escaped jail time because they were white.

So I went searching for another case. I wanted to prove the fancy QCs wrong.

Thomas Tawha was jailed for six months for stealing 59 trout over two occasions from a protected fishing area near Lake Rotoiti in 2014.

But unlike Delegat, Tawha had a long list of previous convictions. But really, should a man go to jail for stealing some fish?

Yet, still I haven’t proved my case that Delegat got off lightly.

Former Labour MP John Tamihere works with young Maori, he sees them in front of the court on a daily basis because police profile them from an early age and target them, he says.

Ministry of Justice figures suggest he is right: Maori are four times more likely to be charged with a crime compared to Pakeha – and seven times more likely to be jailed.

I went searching for one final case to compare to Delegat’s sentence.

I found it in the case of Louanne Huingarangi Edwardson, 30 – who was jailed for 20 months in 2011 for injuring a policewoman who had tried to help her when responding to a domestic violence callout.

Edwardson was drunk and lashed out with her feet, kicking the officer in the face and body, breaking her jaw and cracking several ribs. She was convicted of injuring with intent, resisting arrest and obstructing police.

She isn’t white and she didn’t have a QC defending her.

Delegat walks the streets. Edwardson did time. I rest my case.

The rich white kid got off lightly – no matter what the fancy lawyers say in defence of the so-called justice system.

I think unprovoked violence against anyone, but especially against a police officer, should carry a higher cost.  It would appear our need to feel justice is served on these occasions isn’t reflected int he law as it stands.

As I said yesterday.  We need higher penalties in many cases, especially for violence against people, more for unprovoked violence, and even more for violence against police.


Duncan Garner, Dominion Post

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