Spot on Judith: “I see a poverty of ideas, a poverty of parental responsibility, a poverty of love, a poverty of caring.”

Judith Collins is dead right in her comments about who is responsible for the so-called child poverty issue.

Of course, the perpetually outraged have decided to scream and the Media party have joined in.

Children’s advocates are upset by Justice Minister Judith Collins’ comments apparently blaming many child poverty problems on parents.

At the Police Association annual conference in Wellington, the minister responded to a question from a Northland police officer, who said police were often busy with gangs, RNZreported.

Gangs often had members who experienced poverty as children, he said.

New Zealand child welfare policies were criticised by the United Nations in its latest report, which called for urgent measures to combat violence, abuse, and neglect.

Collins said the government was doing more for child poverty than the UN and money was available in New Zealand for those in need, the report said.    Read more »

Sam’s tax increase has sparked a crime wave

Sam Lotu Iiga was all proud as punch when he beefed up tobacco taxes.

Perhaps he won’t be so pleased as a crime wave sweeps across the nation all because of increased taxes.

Dairy owners are fortifying their businesses as the lucrative black market for tobacco fuels a wave of commercial break-ins.

Burglars have targeted up to 20 cigarette retailers – predominantly dairies and service stations – in about the last fortnight in Christchurch, making off with thousands of dollars worth of tobacco products.

Police have launched an investigation dubbed Operation Smoke as they try to catch those responsible. They are yet to make any arrests, but have some suspects.

A dairy owner, who did not want to be identified, said thieves smashed through the wooden backdoor of his business in south Christchurch, about 1.30am on September 24.

They used a crowbar to open a locked cabinet inside and stole about $10,000 worth of tobacco products.   Read more »


If this doesn’t make you throw up your muesli I don’t know what will.

A father and daughter pleaded guilty to incest when they appeared in the Dunedin District Court this afternoon.

Judge Kevin Phillips convicted them and remanded them on bail, with conditions prohibiting communication between the pair, for sentence in November.

The pair – aged 37 and 23 – have previously been convicted of incest, after the woman gave birth to a child in 2011.

The pair, who have interim name suppression, had troubled upbringings.   Read more »


What a good idea, criminal bludgers to have their benefits docked

Mark Mitchell has proposed that criminal bludgers have their benefits docked if they don’t comply with court orders.

Concerns have been raised about a new bill that could see benefit payments cut for offenders who breach their community sentences.

Parliament’s Social Services Committee is currently calling for public submissions on the the Social Security Amendment Bill, which was put forward by National MP Mark Mitchell.

The bill would allow Corrections to have benefit payments for offenders stopped if they continued to disregard written warnings to comply with their community sentences.

Offenders serving community sentences are on probation, which means they are able to serve their sentences in the community but with restrictions on their movements.

Some organisations are worried about the impact the bill could have, and have questioned if it will only drive offenders to re-offend.

Read more »

I predicted this would happen

A couple of years back I attended a conference in Singapore on Tobacco Control and learned some interesting things.

One was that there is a point at which taxation levels on tobacco reaches a level where there is a significant upside for criminals to enter the market and start selling illicit tobacco.

I gave evidence to a select committee, where one tobacco control activist sat behind me as I gave evidence and called me a fat bastard and a racist and every other name under the sun, and it was the same select committee where Hone Harawira invited me to step outside so he could smack my head in.

The evidence that I was giving was about the levels of taxation and funding to anti-tobacco groups and how it was ineffective and reaching the point that criminals would find selling tobacco more lucrative than selling cannabis. At one point I offered to have a 40-foot container delivered to the select committee, full of illicit tobacco products if only they would guarantee the payment for the goods. It is that easy to get hold if.

With the most recent tax increased implemented by this dopey government what I predicted has come to pass. Criminals are now distributing illicit tobacco and other criminals are raiding stores to get their hands on the product.

A lucrative black market for cigarettes is fuelling an increase in armed robberies, with criminals targeting dairies and stealing tobacco products to order.   Read more »


Photo of the Day

Robin Doan photographed March 12, 2014, near Palo Duro Canyon. Photo: DARREN BRAUN.

Robin Doan photographed March 12, 2014, near Palo Duro Canyon. Photo: DARREN BRAUN.

 The Girl Who Saw Too Much

Texas family is gunned down in a deadly home invasion — but the shooter unknowingly leaves behind a witness.

In the fall of 2005, a young Missouri man, 23-year-old Levi King, went on a vicious and inexplicable 24-hour killing spree, first shooting an elderly man and his daughter-in-law in the rural community of Pineville, Missouri, then stealing their truck and driving to Texas, where he randomly stopped at a darkened farm house on the outskirts of the small Panhandle town of Pampa.

Dressed completely in black and toting an AK-47, King broke through the back door and immediately went to the master bedroom. He first put three bullets into the body of the home’s owner, 31-year-old Brian Conrad. He next fired two shots into Molly, the family’s dog. Then he turned his gun on Conrad’s 35-year-old pregnant wife, Michell, who was screaming. He shot her five times.

Michell’s ten-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Robin Doan, was at the end of the hallway, crouched by her bedroom door, which was partially open. She saw King walk out of her mother and stepfather’s bedroom and head her way. She ran back to her bed and pulled the covers over her head. He stepped into her bedroom, aimed his gun at her, and pulled the trigger. The shot went wide, hitting a pillow, but Robin made a grunting noise and fell to the floor, pretending she was dead. King fell for her act. He turned around, walked into a third bedroom, and shot Robin’s fourteen-year-old brother, Zach. King then walked into the kitchen and rummaged around for food before driving away.

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There is honour in helping the police keep us all safe

Kerry McIvor muses:

Nosiness gets a bad rap.

Think of nosy neighbours. Who wants them peering out through their net curtains, observing your comings and goings and counting the gentlemen callers? Tutting at the time you pulled up in a taxi, hissing through their teeth in horrified delight as you staggered up the path and fumbled for the door key?

Nosiness implies disapproval and judgment and censure.

And yet that’s not always the case. I loved hearing this week about the case up north of the locals who helped police uncover New Zealand’s biggest methamphetamine haul.

The alleged crims were busted when locals reported suspicious vehicles in the area and people trying to launch boats off the Far North’s west coast. A low-flying aircraft added to the mystery.

Some locals were offered suspiciously large sums of money to help strangers get their boats into the water and knew something wasn’t kosher.

So they took down registration numbers, memorised faces and called police – and New Zealand’s largest drugs bust came down to good old-fashioned neighbourliness.

It reminded me of the Rainbow Warrior bombing more than 30 years ago.

I once viewed a couple of guys sitting in a car in the street not doing anything at all for quite some time. I simply walked out, took a photo of them and the licence plate, and walked back in as they drove past cursing at me. We all know the rhythms of the places we live, and when something is different.  Read more »


Photo Of The Day

Fifty-two-year-old Richard Beasley and his protegé, 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty were charged with using Craigslist to lure men with false job postings. The men, all of which were single and without families, would respond to the ad that claimed they would also have room and board while working on a cattle farm that didn't exist. One victim, who was shot in the elbow, was able to run away to safety, but when police responded they found three other bodies at the scene in shallow graves.

Fifty-two-year-old Richard Beasley and his protegé, 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty, were charged with using Craigslist to lure men with false job postings. The men, all of whom were single and without families, would respond to the ad that claimed they would also have room and board while working on a cattle farm that didn’t exist. One victim, who was shot in the elbow, was able to run away to safety, but when police responded they found three other bodies at the scene in shallow graves.

Murder by Craigslist

Most people go to Craigslist to find apartments, job openings, and cheap furniture, while others use the popular classified advertising website to do their dirty work. In recent years, Craigslist has become a hotbed for predators and scam artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. What’s worse is no Craigslist section is safe from criminals. Whether you’re browsing the personals, for sale, or jobs section, you never really know who’s on the other end and what kind of danger you might be in.

The preacher placed the ad:

Wanted: Caretaker For Farm. Simply watch over a 688 acre patch of hilly farmland and feed a few cows, you get 300 a week and a nice 2 bedroom trailer, someone older and single preferred but will consider all, relocation a must, you must have a clean record and be trustworthy—this is a permanent position, the farm is used mainly as a hunting preserve, is overrun with game, has a stocked 3 acre pond, but some beef cattle will be kept, nearest neighbour is a mile away, the place is secluded and beautiful, it will be a real get away for the right person, job of a lifetime—if you are ready to relocate please contact asap, position will not stay open.

More than a hundred men applied; four were hired. The preacher and his “nephew” offered each a ride down to the farm. The men never knew what was going on—what bizarre scheme they’d stumbled upon. What happened next was almost too terrible to believe.

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Photo Of The Day

Molly LaRue and Geoff Hood in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, on September 12, 1990, with Cove Mountain in the background. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Howell

Molly LaRue and Geoff Hood in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, on September 12, 1990, with Cove Mountain in the background. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Howell

Murder on the Appalachian Trail

Twenty-six years ago, a grisly double homicide on America’s most famous hiking route shocked the nation and forever changed their ideas about crime, violence, and safety in the outdoors.

They were known to hikers as Nalgene and Cleavis.

They were two young lovers engaged to be married who were sharing an adventure down the Appalachian Trail until they crossed paths with Paul David Crews.

Molly LaRue and Geoffrey Logan Hood had camped for the night in a wooden lean-to known as the Thelma Marks Shelter a few miles outside Duncannon. The three-sided structure was nestled among birch, poplar and oak trees on the south side of Cove Mountain about 30 feet below the trail that runs from Maine to Georgia.

“They were caught off-guard and somebody attacked them … sometime before dawn,” Perry County Coroner Michael Shalonis told reporters after the bodies were found on Sept. 13, 1990.

 It is a quiet, restorative place, this clearing high on a Pennsylvania ridge. Ferns and wildflowers carpet its floor. Sassafras and tulip trees, tall oak and hickory stand tight at its sides, their leaves hissing in breezes that sweep from the valley below. Cloistered from civilization by a steep 900-foot climb over loose and jutting rock, the glade goes unseen by most everyone but a straggle of hikers on the Appalachian Trail, the 2,180-mile footpath carved into the roofs of 14 eastern states.

Those travellers have rested here for more than half a century. At the clearing’s edge stands an open-faced shelter of heavy timber, one of 260 huts built roughly a day’s walk apart on the AT’s wriggling, roller-coaster course from Maine to Georgia. It’s tall and airy and skylit, with a deep porch, two tiers of wooden bunks, and a picnic table.

A few feet away stood the ancient log lean-to it replaced. When I visited this past spring, saplings and tangled brier so colonized the old shelter’s footprint that I might have missed it, had I not slept there myself. Twenty-six summers ago, I pulled into what was called the Thelma Marks shelter, near the halfway point of a southbound through-hike. I met a stranger in the old lean-to, talked with him under its low roof as we fired up our stoves and cooked dinner.

Eight nights later, a southbound couple I’d befriended early in my hike followed me into Thelma Marks. They met a stranger there, too.

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Photo Of The Day

V0026226 Hawley Harvey Crippen and Ethel Le Neve. Photograph by Arthu Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Hawley Harvey Crippen and Ethel Le Neve. Photograph by Arthur Bennett, 1910. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images. Hawley Harvey Crippen and Ethel Le Neve. Photograph by Arthur Bennett, 1910.

The Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen Case

Back in the Edwardian era, the frenzied search for a fugitive went a little differently. Take the case of Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, whose brazen escape in the wake of a murder accusation prompted a thrilling transatlantic police chase and capture on the high seas. It was the world’s first case of arrest-by-wireless-telegraph, and, though the technology worked a little slower, was no less enthralling for police, the media, and members of the public who followed along.

July 15- 30, 1910: Murder-suspense stories don’t get much better than that of Dr. Hawley H. Crippen, an American  living in London who ran off with his secretary after killing his wife and burying her body in the cellar in a particularly gruesome fashion – original newspaper accounts said that most of her bones were missing.

Here’s a thumbnail of the sensational case: Crippen, who lived with his family in California as a young man, led a fairly nomadic life in the medical profession, spending time in Los Angeles, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Brooklyn, N.Y., Philadelphia and Toronto.

Somewhere in his wanderings, he met vaudeville actress Belle Elmore, known “for her good looks and laughing disposition,” who was born Kunigunde Makomarkski and used the names Cora and Corrine Turner, according to Elmore’s sister.

The Crippens went to England and since 1908 had lived at 39 Hilldrop Crescent, North London. Dr. Crippen was involved in a rather mysterious business that kept him away from home and he became involved with his secretary, Ethel Clara Le Neve, whose name was spelled many ways in the old newspapers.

In April 1910, Dr. Crippen wrote to a letter to his in-laws, saying that his wife had died in California during a sudden, unexpected trip to arrange an inheritance of some property. Another of Dr. Crippen’s letters, advising a theatrical guild of his wife’s death, aroused suspicions because he misspelled her last name as Ellmore instead of Elmore and guild officials contacted investigators.

Dr. Crippen disappeared after an initial police interview and investigators thoroughly searched the house, discovering a mutilated body covered with quicklime in the cellar. Police began hunting Dr. Crippen and Le Neve, receiving many clues before determining that they were on a ship headed for America.

Newspaper readers were tantalized by a race across the Atlantic between the ship carrying the fugitive couple and Inspector Walter Dew of Scotland Yard. On July 29, 1910, Dew arrived in Father Point, Quebec, to intercept the ship carrying the fugitives.

The Times published an interview with Crippen’s father, M.A. Crippen, who was living at the Veranda Apartments, 3rd and Flower streets in Los Angeles. The Times also tried to interview Crippen’s son Hawley, who was staying with in-laws at 1612 Holmby Ave.

Sitting in front of the home and armed with a Winchester rifle, Hawley Crippen’s father-in-law, J.C. Herwick, said: “No, sir, my son hain’t heerd a word about his pa, ner he ain’t goin’ to be pestered by no reporters. I don’t read the dirty sheets, ner he ain’t goin’ to talk with any of ther dirty newsgetters, so you kin just dust yourself right along or you’ll get into trouble,” according to The Times.

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