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Chauvel concerned victim put on trial in absentia

Sat 22 Oct 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Charles Chavel Charles Chauvel believes Parliament needs to have "a good hard look" at the rules of evidence in murder trials. Labour's Justice Spokesman says he is concerned about the way the defence was conducted in the High Court trial where 17-year-old Willie Ahsee was ultimately cleared of the murder and found guilty of the manslaughter of gay 59-year-old Papakura man Denis Phillips. "If this had been a rape trial, the victim's prior sexual experience or desires would not have been able to have been referred to by the defence, since (thank goodness) it is no longer appropriate to plead that a rape victim 'was asking for it' or 'in some way bore responsibility for what happened to them'," Chauvel, a former lawyer and a member of Labour's Rainbow Caucus, says. "I am disturbed that is effectively what happened here - the victim was put on trial in absentia by the defence by being represented as an older person with a predilection for younger men - and who knows what prejudices this might have activated amongst one or more jury members, and how instrumental that may have been in leading to the finding of guilt for manslaughter rather than murder?" Chauvel says if he is Minister of Justice after the election, he will "review this issue myself." If not, he will be calling for it to happen.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Saturday, 22nd October 2011 - 3:23pm

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