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'Understandable' assaults, 'justifiable' murders

Mon 11 Jun 2007 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

Next time you hear anti-gay ranters such as John Tamihere or Brian Tamaki or John Banks claim that there are no consequences from their 'just speaking their mind' on their negative attitudes to gays and lesbians (actually, they seem to mostly ignore lesbians and obsess mostly on gay men and the male-to-female transgendered) consider what a mood of intolerance towards glbt folk can sanction. This damn scary, and frankly incomplete, list includes some cases in which defence lawyers put forward the Homosexual Panic Defence, a courtroom tactic much beloved of those New Zealanders who murder and maim gays for sport - a defence which is at last coming up for legal review. Homosexual Panic Defense in essence justifies extreme violence against homosexuals because the victim's sexuality allegedly engenders understandable panic in the assailant. For example, if a woman places a hand on an allegedly straight guy's hand, that's just 'making a pass.' Phwoar! But if another guy places a hand on the same thigh it's acceptable to savagely attack or kill him because nothing is more naturally abhorrent to an otherwise decent red-blooded kiwi male that the presence or attentions of a poof. Or so the reasoning goes. And judges and juries currently have to take that defence seriously as a mitigating factor! This list may not be 100% comprehensive but it clearly indicates the disturbing level of violence against gays occurring throughout the country. STANLEY WAIPOURI, 2006 Waipouri died in December 2006 after a brutal attack in his Palmerston North apartment during which he sustained multiple internal and external injuries including having the tip of his penis sliced off. The injuries, particularly to his head and neck, were so severe that a pathologist was unable to pinpoint the exact cause of death. Ashley Arnopp and Andre Gilling were each sentenced to 15 years for murder. ROBERT HUNT, 2004 Hunt, a ‘quiet stamp collector', aged 55 was stabbed 42 times in his home by 18 year-old Dick Faisauvale, who held him by the throat during the stabbing. The defence was that Hunt made an unwanted sexual advance toward Faisauvale, who allegedly believed Hunt was going to rape and physically attack him, ultimately provoking Faisauvale to kill. However it emerged that Faisauvale and Hunt had previously had a casual sexual relationship and Faisauvale also acknowledged during the trial that he had been paid to have sex with other men. Faisauvale was convicted of murder and jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years. ROBERT GREEN, 2004 Craig Ross, 31, had worked on Robert Green's farm on and off since he was 16. On the night of 12 August 2004, Ross came up behind Green and shot him in the back of the head with a sawn-off shotgun. On trial for the murder of Green, Ross's defence was provocation on the basis that Green had pressured Ross over time to have a homosexual relationship with him. According to Ross, on the afternoon of 12 August, Green got into bed with Ross naked from the waist down and sexually assaulted him. Ross's provocation defence was not accepted and he was found guilty of murder. BARRY HART, 2003 Barry Hart, 56, was killed by his nephew by marriage, Amsheen Ali, 16, during a barbecue at Hart's house where they had been smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol. At the time of the killing, only Hart and Ali remained at the house. Hart began to hug him, rubbing his hands over Ali's body, and attempted to kiss him on the neck. Ali alleged that he was scared that Hart would rape him and pushed him away on a number of occasions. Ali then grabbed a knife and stabbed Hart at least five times in the back, chest and neck. The defence of provocation was accepted even though there was no evidence at all that Hart was a ‘dominant homosexual lacking in self-control, violent and predatory'. Ali was sentenced to just three years in prison. DAVID MCNEE, 2003 Celebrity interior decorator David McNee was bashed to death by Philip Layton Edwards in 2003 after McNee hired Edwards for solicitation. Edwards admitted to losing count of how many times he punched McNee in the face; however post-mortem examinations revealed McNee suffered anywhere between 30 to 50 blows to the head. McNee lay dying in his own blood and vomit for up to an hour, while Edwards showered, stole money, liquor, clothes and a car from McNee's residence. Although Edwards was a known male prostitute, his defence was that he was not gay, however did agree to perform an erotic act on a ‘look but don't touch' basis. Edwards assaulted McNee when he allegedly touched his anus. Despite the evidence of the degree of brutality and lack of remorse Edwards portrayed - for instance, blood splatters on the walls, floor and ceiling, and reports of Edwards boasting about the killing while joyriding in the victim's car - the defence attorney managed to seduce the jury on the grounds of provocation. Edwards was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in prison, a sentence upheld by the Court of Appeal. JOHN SORRENSON, 2002 John Sorrenson, 57, picked up Hitchhiker Jason Fergusson, 20, in June 2002. Sorrenson invited Fergusson back to his home where he stayed the weekend. During this time, Sorrenson admitted to Fergusson of having feelings for him. While Fergusson was using the shower, Sorrenson allegedly came in uninvited and fondled his genitals. Fergusson then pushed him away and hit him three times. Sorrenson ran out of the bathroom, pursued by Fergusson who smashed a vase and a plate over his head, threw other ornaments at him and hit him on the head several time with a steel poker. When Sorrenson got to his feet, Fergusson, allegedly in fear of being indecently touched again, grabbed a knife and stabbed Sorrenson in the back three times. He then buried him in a shallow grave in a nearby forest. Fergusson told police that he had previously been assaulted by a man, thus making him particularly sensitive to Sorrenson's approach. The defence of the case was that ‘the horror of unwanted homosexual advances festered away in his mind, becoming part of his psyche'. The defence also argued that ‘the average New Zealander would have acted the same way if provoked to the same extent'. Fergusson's defence of provocation, based on Sorrenson's actions and a claimed previous similar sexual assault against him, was not however, accepted by the jury who returned with a guilty of murder verdict after deliberating for three hours. Fergusson is still behind bars but in June 2009 it was announced that an appeal against his conviction is to be launched. JASON JOHNSON, 2001 Reported, 10 July 2001: Jason Johnson was killed at Whakamaru, Waikato. Ratima Osborne Jnr, and his father Ratima Osborne Snr, were arrested for the killing. The son was subsequently found guilty of murder and sentenced to a non-parole imprisonment of ten years. The police stated that it was a gay hate crime. JEFF PINFOLD AND PETER KITCHEN, 2001 Reported, 19 April 2001: Jeff Pinfold and Peter Kitchen were assaulted after leaving a Napier Bar by Dallas Peneha, Daniel Beams, and Jack Blance. Beams' girlfriend at the time of the attack witnessed it, and stated that one of them said, "Let's fuck these gay guys up." Kitchen later died of his injuries in Hawkes Bay Hospital on 23 April 2001 MALCOLM VAUGHN   


First published: Monday, 11th June 2007 - 2:43pm

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