A dud judge lets off a lawyer because he didn’t know the law

‘Dudge’ David Collins

How does this idiot get to overturn the best judge in the country?

A lawyer caught driving drunk after a concert 15 years ago has had his conviction overturned, in part, because he did not know he was supposed to have gone to court afterwards.

Philip Gurney took his mother to see Engelbert​ Humperdinck​ and The Seekers at The Mission concert in Napier on February 9, 2002.

They had a picnic and drank a bottle of wine. After the concert Gurney was stopped by police and breath-tested while driving his mother’s car home.

He recorded 703 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath – well over the limit at the time of 400mcg. He told police this was because he had consumed Chinese ginseng tonic, which he did not know contained alcohol.

Cough, cough, bullshit.

Gurney, who was living in Singapore in 2002, was called to appear in the Napier District Court four days later. He arranged for a lawyer to represent him and the case was transferred to Auckland with a note that he intended to plead guilty.

But in the Auckland District Court, a different lawyer represented Gurney and told the court he intended to plead not guilty. The matter was then returned to Napier for a plea to be entered in late May.

When Gurney didn’t show up in May, or have a lawyer appear for him, a warrant was issued for his arrest. That warrant remained in place until he was arrested in March 2016.

Gurney pleaded not guilty and after several adjournments the case was finally called before Judge Tony Adeane in the Napier District Court in April.

Gurney, who is now 66 and had practised law in Auckland and Singapore, didn’t show up for that hearing either. Lawyer Philip Ross presented a medical certificate to say he was too sick with food poisoning after eating at a local Chinese restaurant.

Judge Adeane was not satisfied that he could not appear, and Gurney was convicted.

Top judge that Tony Adeane. He saw through the dodgy Chinese story, that went with the dodgy Chinese tea story…and failure to appear. This fool lawyer should have taken the DIC like a man, he drank, he drove, end of story. But wait…

He appealed before he was sentenced. The appeal was heard by Justice David Collins in the High Court at Wellington last week.

Gurney said he had written to police in April 2002 explaining how he had consumed ginseng tonic at the concert.

​He also explained that he was going to be out of New Zealand for a long time, and he was never informed he had to be in the Napier District Court in May 2002.

Gurney said Judge Adeane had breached his right to a fair trial by proceeding without him,  and had failed to consider the effect of the ginseng tonic.

Most importantly, though, he said the judge had failed to consider Section 10B of the Crimes Act 1961, which required court proceedings to take place within 10 years of an alleged offence unless there was prior permission granted by the attorney-general.

Judge Adeane said the time limitation did not apply to defendants who had “absconded”.

But Justice Collins overturned Gurney’s conviction, saying his actions were the “antithesis of an absconder”.

“He did not attempt to depart furtively or unlawfully. Nor did he attempt to avoid, hide or conceal himself from New Zealand authorities.”

The court had effectively ceased to have jurisdiction of the case beyond February 9, 2012 – 10 years after Gurney was caught with the high breath alcohol reading.

Gurney, who is now retired, said the decision was the correct one.

What a crock. He’s a lawyer, and since when has ignorance of the law ever been an excuse?

Tony Adeane is NZ’s best judge and this dudge (dud judge) has let a lawyer off because he didn’t know the law?

Knock me down with a feather…every crim in NZ will be rejoicing…if a lawyer doesn’t know the law then how can they be expected to know the law with regard to…oh I don’t know…drug dealing?

What a gutless lawyer too…he should have taken the DIC, not been a weasel and use ignorance as an excuse…as well as never appearing.



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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.  And 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 that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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