A man convicted of sex crimes 19 years ago argues it would be unfair to lift his name suppression now as part of the efforts of two women victims to make his name public.
Counsel for the man, Jonathan Eaton QC, said it would be unfair for a court to now revisit a court order made in 1995.
The women want their own suppressions lifted to make the man's suppression order redundant since it was made to protect the identity of the victims. The women were present at today's hearing in the Christchurch District Court.
Judge Paul Kellar said at the start of the hearing that he would reserve his decision and issue a written judgment. He said he wanted time to consider the issues in a case that was "deceptively simple", about the two women seeking to have their automatic name suppression orders discharged.
The women argue that if the reason for the interim order is no longer necessary to protect the victims then the order suppressing the man's name shouldlapse.
Judge Kellar said the paradoxically, the interim order to suppress the victim's names had been unnecessary in the first place.
The women's counsel, Nikki Pender, argued that the order on the man's name was a conditional order, but Judge Kellar said he wanted to hear argument about whether the interim order on the man's name became a final order because it was not lifted.
The man was convicted in Christchurch in 1995 of five offences of indecent assault or doing an indecent act. The suppression issue arose when he complained to the Privacy Commission after details of his name and convictions appeared on the Sensible Sentencing Trust's database of offenders on its website.
The two Christchurch women believe the man used the automatic suppression granted to all victims of sexual abuse to hide his own past, and they want his name made public.
Pender said the man had never claimed to have been granted name suppression in his own right.
The Sensible Sentencing Trust disputes that the man was granted final suppression, and says there was no record at the courts of a final order being made. A memorandum from a judge who handled one of the man's appearances suggests the order lapsed.
However, a Court of Appeal ruling this year suggested the interim suppression order remained in force unless it was lifted.
As far as the women were concerned, the court was obliged to lift their suppression if they were aged over 16 years, had made application, and understood the nature of the effect of lifting the order, Judge Kellar said.
Eaton said the only court record showed an interim order being made at the man's first appearance, without any reasons being recorded. This type of order was normal in a case alleging historic sex offending.
What the women were now asking for was unprecedented and with very significant consequences. The argument was that any order made where there was a note on the court record about it being a conditional order, could be revisited at any time in the future. "That simply cannot be right," he said.
With the case concluded and the appeal period expired, the orders had become permanent. The court now had no jurisdiction to intervene to reconsider any final orders.
He said the original order was not expressed as a conditional order. No court would reasonably intervene 20 years after the event.
- The Press