First strike for new crime law

Last updated 05:00 30/06/2010
NEW LAW: Upper Hutt man Dwyane Mercer is the first person to be warned under the
NEW LAW: Upper Hutt man Dwyane Mercer is the first person to be warned under the "three strikes" law.

Relevant offers


Southland man loses $100,000 in internet dating scam, police warn people to be careful Outrage over child internet porn discharge without conviction for father-of-two Invercargill robbery accused doesn't match victim's description of offender, jury told 'Blitz attack' by assailant who tied up and assaulted Dunedin runner David Roigard tells different tales of inheritance worth millions Kiwi detainee allowed to be with partner as she dies from cancer Construction workers come to aid of Blenheim taxi driver Family violence statements to be recorded by police at scene Marlborough man charged with offensive language Miriama Kamo's builder pleads guilty

An Upper Hutt man has been served with New Zealand's first warning under the controversial "three strikes" law after being convicted of groping a woman.

Dwyane Christopher Mercer, 32, was convicted in Upper Hutt District Court last week after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting his friend's partner. Indecent assault is one of 40 serious violent offences that attract "strikes" upon conviction. The law came into force on June 1.

However, there are concerns the policy would breach New Zealand's Bill of Rights and international obligations. Critics said some juries may be reluctant to convict because of a concern criminals would get an unfairly harsh sentence.

A spokesman from Corrections Minister Judith Collins' office yesterday confirmed Mercer's "strike" was the first in the country. There had been two more convictions under the legislation since.

Mercer, a landscape gardener, assaulted his victim after being offered a bed for the night after drinking, the court was told.

His partner of seven years, Vanisha Mercer, 25, supported him in court and was unhappy with the "strike". His three-year-old daughter and son, 6, were missing their father, who was in prison for the first time, she said. "I think it's unfair ... He was just drunk."

The new law was a good idea "for really bad people ... But he's not a bad person," she said.

"I reckon that if he had known the law had changed he wouldn't have [pleaded] guilty, because then he would have got his bail."

Judge Tom Broadmore warned Mercer he would be given a second strike if he committed another of the 40 offences, and would consequently serve a jail term without parole.

A third strike would bring a mandatory maximum sentence for that crime, also with no parole.

"You will have to tread very carefully in the future," the judge said.

Prosecuting Sergeant Neill Ford told the court Mercer went to the victim's house on June 11 after a night drinking and asked to use the toilet. He asked to stay the night and was allowed into the spare room, but later approached her in her bed and indecently assaulted her.

After she yelled out and threatened to call police, Mercer swore and called her a "slag" as he left. Mercer denied the assault when stopped by police.

Defence lawyer Phyllis Strachan said: "The touching was over clothing and I think that is important."

Mercer was also facing sentence for assaulting his mother while he was drunk, she said. His offending over the past 16 years was all alcohol-related. The judge remanded Mercer in custody until the sentencing hearing.

Ad Feedback

Last night Ms Collins said: "I hope that offenders reflect on their first strike, and decide it's not in their best interests to commit any more violent offences.

"If they continue to offend, their future will include many long, mandatory years in prison."

- The Dominion Post

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content