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Monday, September 09, 2013

Unsafer communities

Where were the police?

A woman says she was repeatedly raped by a man after police took away her car keys and left her stranded in a pub car park in the early hours of the morning. The keys were taken away at 4am at the Embankment Tavern carpark in Christchurch because the woman was a restricted driver, by two young constables who were in the city on post-earthquake duties.
Crown prosecutor Deirdre Elsmore said that on June 23, 2011, the woman had left her children in the care of an aunt when she made a late night visit to play the poker machines at the tavern. She was not drinking, and left the tavern when it closed about 4am. As she left, she was handed a bottle of bourbon and coke by a man who had about five opened bottles and was giving them to patrons.
In the carpark she was approached by two police officers who asked if she was drink-driving. When she explained the bottle, they checked her licence and took her keys away when they found she was outside the time for her restricted licence.
She broke the car window to get in to try to hot wire it and asked for help from passers-by. Schooner offered to give her a fork she could use if she went to his house nearby in Oliviers Road.
The complainant at the trial gave evidence of arguing with the police officers and swearing at them. She told them she had not been drinking but just "playing the pokies" and she just wanted to get home to her babies. One of the officers said: "What are you doing here, spending your babies' money?" She told the court: "If they hadn't taken my keys it would have been okay. The police didn't ask how I'd get home - didn't really care."

"I'll give you a fork at my place" is possibly the weakest defence to rape ever recorded.  But beyond that, what excuse do the two police officers have for putting someone in that unsafe situation? We see drunks being offered free lifts by cops on the reality TV shows, so why not in her circumstances?

Presumably she just wasn't that drunk, maybe not drunk at all. She wasn't required to undergo a breath test, so presumably she wasn't operating the car at the time - just walking in the carpark or sitting in the car and stationary.  And this was to prevent a breach of her restricted licence - not preventing drunk driving. Her restriction ends one hour before sunrise, which would have been about two hours away. She actually has a defence to breaching her licence, a lawful excuse, which is her personal safety.

The police thought they had the authority to seize someone's keys, but obviously didn't think they had any responsibility for the consequences of their actions. They should be made accountable.


At 10/9/13 1:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They should be made accountable."

-but they won't be!

At 21/9/13 11:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chalk that up to the dishonesty of parliament "passing" these crazy "graduated licencing" laws in (about, from memory) 1987 without any public debate.

A similar incident occurred after the 1998 "land transport Act" where judge Justice McGechan refused to overturn the dishonestly imposed digi-ID card-"driving licence" which Doug Graham literally "slipped into law" scheme, on the basis it would cause "chaos and mayhem". A teenage girl was raped in the far North after police seized her car on a remote road "because she hadn't got the biometric licence".

What amazes me is the number of people who still think that police are there to "help us" instead of enforcing parliament's dishonesty.

And of course "the law" is made so that the police are totally unaccountable for what they do.


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