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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gwaze verdict II

Mr Gwaze is probably the most relieved person in the country today.  He has had the most terribly dark cloud hanging over him for many years.  He could have been a vicious monster - looking at a 15+ years minimum prison sentence, or - as the jury have found - a victim himself, of unwarranted police and medical suspicion. Given Gwaze is a black Zimbabwean living in a white city like Christchurch claims of racism have been inevitable. NZ Herald:
George Gwaze has been acquitted on charges he sexually violated and murdered his 10-year-old niece for the second time.
After a four-week retrial, a jury of seven men and five women took almost 15 hours to reach their verdict at the High Court in Christchurch today.

This is an extraordinary case for many reasons. Firstly the Supreme Court set a precedent in overturning a not guilty verdict by a jury and ordering a retrial. This was done on the basis that some of the HIV evidence given by a doctor was misleading/wrong (if I recall correctly). If it was a substantial error to allow this evidence as it was put then I don't have a problem with a deviation from the double jeopardy rule as the Supreme Cout would not have done this without serious concerns with the first trial.

Secondly is the circumstances of the alleged offending - having taken place in the family home with his daughter being in the bed next to the girl (the alleged victim).  Maybe that isn't so strange - as sexual offending within households is more prevalent than "stranger" attacks - but where was he and when? I do wonder what the sequence of events was supposed to be from the prosecution position. Maybe this is where the jury also had elements of doubt in comparing the two versions of the story? Gwaze chose not to take the stand so we don't know his side of the story beyond what his lawyers have intimated.

Thirdly is the strange and tragic circumstances of the girl's HIV/AIDS infection.  It is presumed that the girl has had HIV since birth and yet no-one in the household knew of it?  Given the high rates of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe and Gwaze's own medical (albeit veterinary) experience and knowledge I find this difficult to understand. I take it that consistent with the Immigration Service's atrocious inability and unwillingness to bother about checking anything, that the Immigration authorities did not know and did not want to know whether this girl, and indeed anyone coming from Zimbabwe, had HIV or not.  The other question is does Mr Gwaze have HIV or not? I guess that was batted away as a breach of privacy and as not holding enough probative value, but I see how it could be relevant if different strains could be identified (but I don't know how scientific that is).

While I'm glad a jury - again - has decided there isn't enough evidence to go along with the Crown assertion he is a peadophile rapist killer that has more to do with me not wanting to believe a family man in his own house could do such an unforgiveable and unthinkable act rather than purely from what the evidence indicates. [UPDATE: After hearing a bit more about the trial (second one) and the nature of the conflicting medical evidence I realise I'm not in a position to make a call on that evidence and I should just STFU and trust the 11 jurors who reached their conclusion. The facts they determined seems to be the NZ medics had no clue as to how HIV/AIDS presents and could not be dissuaded from their initial speculation. My co-blogger, Mr Bradbury, has been well vindicated for his Alabama/banjo critique of this case in terms of how the Christchurch Police operate and their perverse prosecutions and the reliance on dodgy DNA testimony from the government scientists. I think since the AIDS scare of the mid 1980s and the success of retro-viral medicines in the 90s the virus has been destigmatised to the extent that people in NZ have forgotten how deadly it is when not treated. The effects of the disease in this case sounds something akin to the Black Death. The poor girl was a bit ill - but not sick enough for anyone to consider she needed to go to the hospital or see a doctor - and then 18 hours later she's dead of a massive haemorrhagic episode so horrific the only explanation they could come up with is that she was the victim of a vicious sex attack.  That's full-blown, final stage AIDS for you. Is this disease not the most horrendous malignancy ever? How many other non-diagnosed HIV/AIDS infected people are there in this country who may be in similar danger? From this case the infected person may have as little as only one day between presentation of symptoms and death - that is terrifying.]  The whole case has been unsettling: layers of uneasiness upon layers of doubt upon layers of suspicion and then wrapped in prejudice.


At 29/5/12 3:13 p.m., Blogger BobbyD said...

The claims of racism are rather ironic, given if anything his origins played in his favor in regard to the HIV defense and lack of knowledge.

And it is hard to find any sympathy at all for the defendant and family given what we know of this young girls life and horrific suffering.

At 29/5/12 4:03 p.m., Blogger slydixon said...

Two juries have found he didn't do it after substantial evidence has been presented yet you seem to be still implying guilt? My feeling is you should leave the poor guy alone now. Christchurch police have secured their bogus verdict on Paul Ellis this guy was obviously lucky to get away.

At 29/5/12 9:57 p.m., Blogger Richard Christie said...

In summary, this second trial wasn't primarily about the tragic death of a young girl, it was as much about satisfying and clarifying matters of legal procedure and satisfying legal egos within the Crowns prosecution services.

@BobbyD. Your snide comments are quite unsubstantiated by the evidence given at trial.

Your comment on racism ironic, given if anything his origins played in his favor in regard to the HIV defense and lack of knowledge

George Gwaze is a vet, highly trained in matters of infection, transmittable disease etc. No ignorance claimed except on the part of investigating police officers.

Your comment on Charlene's circumstances is equally craven -
Charlene and her sister Charmaine, were provided a loving environment and second chance at life by adoption by the Gwazes after the death of her own patents. this wasn't disputed by the prosecution.

BobbyD you must have been busy back in 1993 bundling faggots to stoke the flames that were consuming Mr Ellis.

At 29/5/12 11:04 p.m., Blogger DebsisDead said...

I am at a complete loss to understand how anyone with half a brain could come to this conclusion: "If it was a substantial error to allow this evidence as it was put then I don't have a problem with a deviation from the double jeopardy rule as the Supreme Cout would not have done this without serious concerns with the first trial."

What Selwyn is arguing for is the right for government appointed judges to over-rule decisions made by a jury of 12 objectively selected kiwis on matters of fact. Judges already had the power to rule on matters of law but up until this scary decision by the high court matters of fact have always been left up to juries. For good reason how can any particular type of person any more able to assess the truth of a situation any better than anyone else, and certainly not better than 12 citizens all bringing their wide and varied life experiences to the assessment process. I have met and interacted with enough lawyers and judges over the years to know their minds are a combination of extreme petit-bourgeois paranoia stirred into an ignorant naivety, which is the inevitable by-product of seperating yourself from the vast majority of other citizens.
Lawyers on the whole and judges in particular cloister themselves away from anyone who isn't in the same game or a related equally high paid and wannabe patrician gig.

Remember the mess the judges made of trying to sort out whether one of their colleagues had been corrupt in hearing a case put to him by a mate who he owed money too.
The bulk of the correspondence was made available to the public and after reading it I concluded this is a bunch who wouldn't know how to discern their ass was on fire without two mirrors and an obliging 'friend'.

In the last couple of decades there has been a body of research into high/supreme court decisions and how & when those calls conflict with the needs of the governnment of the day. The research has been conducted in numerous jurisdictions and all points to the same depressing fact. That is it doesn't matter much what process is used to select judges- appointment, election or good old nepotism, they all make decisions that agree with the needs and/or policies of their government far more frequently than the times their decisions are for or against on any other matters.

Remember it was a particular erudite pommie judge who stated it was better 'to let 10 guilty men go free than convict one innocent', & Selwyn's call in favour of allowing judges to tramp across jury decisions and reset them according to the whims of the government or the judges' good friends in blue (remember a disproportionate number of beaks are selected from the crown prosecutors list) would almost certainly result in that ratio being turned around. That is ten innocent men would be convicted for every guilty person set free. And that free crim would almost certainly be rich.

At 30/5/12 9:57 a.m., Blogger BobbyD said...

If you had bothered to read just a smidgen of the facts surrounding this case before going off on that ridiculous rant you might have a mere smidgeon of comprehension toward what Tim was referring.

The Jury weren't allowed to decide the first trial on matters of fact due to evidence being admitted that should never have been. Improperly admitted and rather damning hearsay evidence was allowed to be introduced by the defense. And the expert whose hearsay evidence was used, upon examining the full the facts of the case, completely retracted it.

The end result was that the first trial resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice as described by the Supreme Court.

Ironically your actually ranting about a decision that safeguards justice and peoples right to a fair trial

At 30/5/12 10:24 a.m., Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

Have udated in the last para. Sorry, may have accidently deleted one of the comments - apologies to that commenter - please repost.

At 30/5/12 10:41 a.m., Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

I'm trusting the Supreme Court to have got it right about the reasons for a re-trial. They thought that crucial expert testimony was unsafe (based on hearsay?)- so what to do - ignore?

At 2/6/12 3:56 p.m., Blogger DebsisDead said...

Aquittals must be sacrosanct whether or not the establishment or anyone else likes the result, otherwise the star chamber cannot be far behind.
The high court decison on the evidence was not objective and is a dangerous precedent.

At 15/8/13 7:55 a.m., Anonymous e-clectic said...

And Gwaze's sperm got transferred to Charlene's panties via contact in the laundry basket. What are the odds?


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