Bail little obligation for some criminals

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 23/04/2014

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Hundreds of Manawatu criminals are continuing to commit crimes while on bail, ranging from breaching bail conditions to leading police on high-speed chases.

But the number of people offending on bail is going down, which Justice Minister Judith Collins credits to better policies and rehabilitation efforts.

Figures obtained by the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act show that, between 2008 and 2011, 2225 people were convicted in Manawatu courts for offences committed while on bail.

That is 6.1 per cent of the 13,632 people convicted in that four-year period.

The Standard asked for numbers from 2012 and 2013, but they were not granted. The ministry said this was because people accused of crimes while on bail in 2012 and 2013 might still be waiting for their cases to be decided.

Ministry district courts general manager Tony Fisher said about 90 per cent of crimes committed by people on bail were for minor offences, mainly failing to answer court summons, theft and drink-driving.

"The overall pattern of offences committed on bail is similar to the overall pattern of offending in New Zealand generally: most are not categorised as ‘serious' crime."

Aswad Mcleod broke the law while on bail: he stole a contactless credit card to buy $1300 worth of goods. He was both on parole and bail when he stole the card belonging to a family member he was living with.

He was sentenced to seven months' jail on one theft charge and four of breaching parole.

In a victim-impact statement, the family member said she had taken a risk supporting and providing for Mcleod after his release from prison, but her kindness was repaid by an abuse of trust.

Simon James Woodward, 28, was arrested and bailed after he led police on a high-speed chase around Manawatu in October.

He and Dyllan Barry Vaughan travelled above 180kmh, before crashing the car they were in near The Plaza in Palmerston North.

In January this year, while on bail, Woodward led police on another chase.

Police were called to a property he was at after a domestic incident, and he jumped on a 900cc Ducati motorcycle to get away.

He led police on a chase at Halcombe, going more than 30kmh above the speed limit in some areas.

At his sentencing for both chases, Judge Gerard Lynch said the fact he offended while on bail had to be taken into account. Woodward was jailed for one year and two months.

Fisher said the number of people in the country convicted for offences while on bail had been declining, from a peak of 16,849 in 2009 to 13,493 in 2011.

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Manawatu courts experienced the same trend, going from 576 in 2008 to 527 in 2011.

Justice Minister Collins said the downward trend was part of a general decline in reported criminal offending.

There had also been more work by the justice sector, with new policies helping.

Some of those focused on targeting the cause of crime, while there was also a greater emphasis on rehabilitation.

- Manawatu Standard

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