Teen Found Guilty of Killing Arun Kumar Keeps Name Suppression
A teenager found guilty of killing a west Auckland shopkeeper has been allowed to keep his name secret – but only until his sentencing. The 14-year-old who stabbed Arun Kumar in the neck at the Railside Dairy in Henderson on June 10 last year was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. His 13-year-old co-defendant was cleared of manslaughter. The jury at their High Court trial delivered unanimous verdicts last month. A name suppression hearing was heard before Justice Graham Lang, who appeared via video-link from Gisborne Court, at the High Court in Auckland this morning. Justice Lang allowed the 14-year-old’s name suppression to be lifted at his sentencing on Friday. In a preliminary decision, he said he was inclined to allow the younger boy to keep his name suppression because he was found not guilty of the crime. Straight after the verdicts were delivered in June, Mr Kumar’s family spoke of their disgust at the outcome. “The heart and soul of our family was taken away,” the victim’s son Shivneel Kumar said. “We endured countless reruns of my dad’s last moments. We tolerated all this to o
Shivneel, supported by his sobbing mother Anita, said they now felt that had been for nothing. “We are now living in a society where kids are on drugs, roaming the streets with weapons at the ready,” he said in June. There was no dispute that the 14-year-old stabbed Mr Kumar in the neck, inflicting the fatal wound, or that the 13-year-old was standing outside with a metal pole. But at their trial, defence lawyers for the boys detailed the boys’ backgrounds and the psychologically debilitating effects they had on them. In his brief verbal decision today, Justice Lang said: “At sentencing, name suppression for [the teen] will be lifted. “But I’m going to direct that no photographic image is to be published and for that reason there will be no photographs of him at sentencing or filming by the television.” In relation to the younger boy, he said his preliminary view was that “the fact he was acquitted is a significant issue, coupled with his young age … He should be subject to an order for permanent name suppression”. However, lawyer for the 14-year-old Maria Pecotic said she would be appealing the decision. If she files an appeal before his sentencing date, media will not be allowed to name him until the appeal is heard. Media organisations opposed the 14-year-old’s suppression.A lawyer representing NZME and other outlets said grounds for keeping the boy’s name secret had not been made out by the 14-year-old. And even if they had, “that ground is insufficient to justify and exercise of judicial discretion over-riding the presumption in favour of open justice”, Bell Gully lawyer Tania Goatley said. Ms Goatley told the court the risks the teen faced would be no different to anybody else leaving prison with a manslaughter conviction. The 14-year-old did not have “an unusual or special case”, she said. “He has been convicted of a serious crime.” In written submissions, Ms Goatley said: “The overwhelming balance of the decisions to date concerning young offenders is that name suppression lapses once fair-trial considerations are extinguished.” “It is respectfully submitted that the media are the eyes and ears of the public and the public has the right to be informed as to the identity of the perpetrators of serious crimes,” Ms Goatley said. Publishing the 14-year-old’s name could bring shame and difficulty getting a job later, but those were consequences of serious offending. “It is the fact of his conviction which may pose future difficulties, not publication of his name. There is nothing unusual about this particular young offender to justify name suppression.” There was nothing about 14-year-old’s situation that would class him as different to other young offenders convicted of serious crimes.
Source : Radio Apna 990am