Family First: Discharge without conviction for domestic violence sends 'dangerous message'

Stuff 11 June 2018
Family First Comment: If we’re saying “It’s not OK”, then serious violence like this should not be ignored or decriminalised! 

A families advocate and an anti-violence campaigner have spoken out against a court’s refusal to review a decision to grant a man who seriously injured his wife a discharge without conviction.

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie and Taranaki Safe Families Trust acting co-ordinator Mary Beaumont are speaking out after last week’s High Court ruling to refuse to grant leave for police to appeal against a district court decision to grant Wilfred Lawrence DSouza a discharge without conviction for a violent assault he meted out to his wife with an electrical cord.

The victim was left with serious welts and bruising to her legs.

 “The discharge without any conviction being recorded for such a serious attack sends a dangerous message and sets a disturbing precedent,” McCoskrie said in a written statement.​

He said the law had to reinforce the “It’s Not OK”  message given to communities around the country and judicial decisions like this sent the “wrong message” to society.

“The finger is often pointed at communities to do more and speak up, but politicians and the legal system must also reflect the revulsion that NZ families have towards family violence of this nature,” he said.

In DSouza’s case, he had pleaded guilty to a charge of assaulting his wife with a blunt instrument after an incident at their home in April 2017, which began when he arrived home after a day out drinking and fishing with friends.

After he discovered his wife had locked herself in the bedroom, he  banged on the door – which broke the lock –  and then threatened to harm himself.

When his wife called him a “zero” he hit her with an open hand before picking up an electrical cord and striking the victim around the legs and hands.

At DSouza’s sentencing in March, he was discharged without conviction by New Plymouth District Court Judge Chris Sygrove.

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