Media Release 15 August 2011
Family First NZ is welcoming a court decision to discharge without conviction a father who watched his three-year-old son die in a submerged van, but is disappointed that the police didn’t show the same level of discretion and avoid a drawn out court process.
“Whether an act of stupidity, neglect, or unfortunate circumstance, this father has received a life sentence – literally. He will have to live with the tragic outcome of the death of his son. What was the point of police pursuing him further?” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Where was the application of police discretion?”
“In the same week that this traumatized family buried their son, the father had to appear in court. That shows a complete lack of compassion towards the family in such a devastating time. And then the father had to wait almost four more months to be relieved the weight of the threat of a conviction.”
“There is a place for charges to be laid in similar circumstances, but when the outcome has been so tragic, it seems that the father has been punished enough. This does not appear to be a father who was driving drunk or dangerously. It appears to be simply a tragic tragic mistake. Fortunately the judge agreed.”
Family First is calling for a review of how charges are laid in cases like this where there is no intent to break the law and the outcome far outweighs the need for prosecution.