Judge slams no-show

Gisborne Courthouse. File picture by Rebecca Grunwell

THOUSANDS of dollars in taxpayer funds have been spent flying witnesses to New Zealand for a trial that did not go ahead in Gisborne District Court yesterday.

That expenditure could have been avoided, had the defendant taken an opportunity provided by the court to enter his pleas last Friday. He did not.

The man, whose name is suppressed, was scheduled for a jury trial to begin yesterday. Twelve allegations of sexual offending involving six complainants were to be heard.

Earlier last week, counsel Adam Simperingham indicated to the court his client would plead guilty.

The man was given an opportunity to do so at a fixture on Friday but failed to turn up.

The non-appearance clearly displeased Judge Warren Cathcart, who pointed to the thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds wasted in bringing witnesses from Australia and elsewhere for a trial that might not go ahead.

But he accepted that in the face of uncertainty, the Crown needed to continue preparing as if the fixture was to proceed. Intentions expressed by defendants (even through experienced counsel) were often prone to change, the judge said.

The expense was one he had hoped to avoid by scheduling the man for arraignment on Friday.

It appeared the defendant, who would have been remanded in custody following his pleas, wanted a few more days of freedom, the judge said.

Asked why his client was absent, Mr Simperingham said the man was not aware the court had summoned him but understood only that the Crown wanted his attendance. He was otherwise remanded on bail to appear on Monday.

At a call-over ahead of the trial yesterday, the man entered guilty pleas as anticipated to the 12 charges against him: rape, attempted rape, and 10 indecent assaults, including one of a girl aged under 12, and one of a girl aged 13.

The charges involved six complainants and arose out of offending that occurred mostly in the 1990s at three different locations around New Zealand, including Gisborne.

Two of the indecent assault charges relate to offending in 2014.

Judge Cathcart remanded him in custody for sentence on April 27.

THOUSANDS of dollars in taxpayer funds have been spent flying witnesses to New Zealand for a trial that did not go ahead in Gisborne District Court yesterday.

That expenditure could have been avoided, had the defendant taken an opportunity provided by the court to enter his pleas last Friday. He did not.

The man, whose name is suppressed, was scheduled for a jury trial to begin yesterday. Twelve allegations of sexual offending involving six complainants were to be heard.

Earlier last week, counsel Adam Simperingham indicated to the court his client would plead guilty.

The man was given an opportunity to do so at a fixture on Friday but failed to turn up.

The non-appearance clearly displeased Judge Warren Cathcart, who pointed to the thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds wasted in bringing witnesses from Australia and elsewhere for a trial that might not go ahead.

But he accepted that in the face of uncertainty, the Crown needed to continue preparing as if the fixture was to proceed. Intentions expressed by defendants (even through experienced counsel) were often prone to change, the judge said.

The expense was one he had hoped to avoid by scheduling the man for arraignment on Friday.

It appeared the defendant, who would have been remanded in custody following his pleas, wanted a few more days of freedom, the judge said.

Asked why his client was absent, Mr Simperingham said the man was not aware the court had summoned him but understood only that the Crown wanted his attendance. He was otherwise remanded on bail to appear on Monday.

At a call-over ahead of the trial yesterday, the man entered guilty pleas as anticipated to the 12 charges against him: rape, attempted rape, and 10 indecent assaults, including one of a girl aged under 12, and one of a girl aged 13.

The charges involved six complainants and arose out of offending that occurred mostly in the 1990s at three different locations around New Zealand, including Gisborne.

Two of the indecent assault charges relate to offending in 2014.

Judge Cathcart remanded him in custody for sentence on April 27.

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