A coroner's decision implicating Chris Kahui in the deaths of his twin babies has reignited debate over a defendant's right to silence in court.
Coroner Garry Evans has found that three-month-old twins Chris and Cru Kahui died in the sole custody, care and control of their father.
Mr Kahui did not give evidence at his 2008 murder trial, in which he was acquitted, but was compelled to take the stand during last year's coronial inquest.
His evidence to the inquest contradicted what he told police soon after the babies died from traumatic brain injuries in Starship children's hospital in 2006.
The twins' mother, Macsyna King, was adamant last night that her former partner lied about how the babies were hurt.
She told Campbell Live: "In my mind he knew something had happened but he never told me."
She did not realise how badly the twins were injured until she saw how concerned staff at Middlemore Hospital were about them.
"I know panicked people when I see panicked people, and these nurses and these doctors were clearly in a panic and this was major, this wasn't just because they had a bad cough.
"Those were the first signs that something really big had happened to my sons."
She said she felt tormented for six years because the finger of blame was unfairly pointed at her after Mr Kahui was acquitted of murder.
"The cruelty, the taunts, the horrible words spoken, the threats on me and my family were for nothing. I was judged before I was given a chance. I was accused of things I never did.
"I've never been able to mourn properly. I'm grateful this coroner has found these things and said without a shadow of a doubt he [Chris] is responsible, that the police did everything they should have done. They charged the right person and not me."
The coroner's findings have sparked calls for a review of a defendant's right to silence in criminal trials.
Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar said that, had Mr Kahui been forced to take the stand at his trial, the jury may well have convicted him.
"It certainly appears that way from what we're reading now - the differences in the statements which would have been exposed on the stand.
"It's about justice. From a victim's perspective, they honestly and genuinely believe they will get justice out of the system. But that's happening less and less."
Chief coroner Neil MacLean said that, unlike the adversarial criminal court process, the inquisitorial coronial process could compel key people to give evidence in order to establish the truth.
"The reality here is the reason why Chris Kahui, A, was willing to give evidence, and B, could actually be made to give evidence, was because he could never be charged again."
The fact that Mr Evans' findings directly contradicted Mr Kahui's High Court acquittal raised "an interesting academic debate" about whether a defendant should be able to be retried, or compelled to take the stand.
In the French system, magistrates could force people to give evidence "and draw adverse inferences" if they did not, Judge MacLean said.
"[However,] I think the majority of those in the justice fraternity would say: ‘You tinker with that at your peril.' This is a process hallowed by history."
The right to silence is a historic safety measure to protect defendants from being compelled to provide answers through torture. It has evolved over centuries from English common law.
Auckland University law professor Bill Hodge said it was time for a national debate over the modern application of the right.
"It's not a question of simply doing away with it, but it could be a question of saying: ‘No, it needs to be re-examined in modern conditions'."
Defence lawyer Robert Lithgow did not support a "kneejerk" review based on popular public reaction to the Kahui acquittal and the acquittal this year of Ewen Macdonald on a charge of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy.
Macdonald did not testify at his trial.
"Putting a defendant on the stand could see them convicted, not on their evidence, but on whether the jury liked them or not," Mr Lithgow said.
"I have seen people convicted just because they've spoken disrespectfully about the victim, when they would otherwise have been acquitted."
Justice Minister Judith Collins said there were no plans to change a defendant's longstanding right to silence.
"Making someone take the stand does not mean they will suddenly ‘crack' under cross-examination and confess to the crime - people may not always tell the truth on the stand."
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