Govt to respond to bail recommendations

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 13:57 06/12/2013
Christie Marceau
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CHRISTIE MARCEAU: The 18-year-old was found dead at her home in Hillcrest, Auckland.

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The Government will respond in the New Year to recommendations from a parliamentary committee  to introduce tougher bail after a  campaign for a ''Christie's Law''.

The law and order committee backed the family of slain North Shore teenager Christie Marceau, who have demanded stricter bail laws and greater judicial accountability.

But new bail laws were passed earlier this year, and it is unlikely the Government will introduce even more stringent rules. 

The committee was responding to a petition of 58,000 signatures calling for ''Christie's Law''.  Marceau, 18, was killed two years ago by Akshay Chand, then 18, who was on bail for kidnapping her and threatening her with a knife.

MPs recommended police be allowed to oppose bail at the High Court. Judges who rule on bail should be the ones who continue to deal with the case, they also said.

Select committee chair Jacqui Dean, said the murder had ''forever changed Christie's family''.

"We looked at the issue from all angles, listened to many people and organisations, and considered that the points raised did have merit.''

She said the committee hopes the recommendations ''may go some way to preventing this kind of tragedy from recurring''.

But Collins said ''welcome changes'' came in the Bail Amendment Act passed earlier this year.

''We are constantly looking at ways to improve our bail laws and Parliament will now consider the Committee's recommendations,'' she said.

''However, I would also point out that our criminal justice system is based on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty and any further changes to our bail laws must reflect this principle.''

The new legislation made it more difficult for young, repeat offenders to get bail, and allow police to arrest people who repeatedly breached bail without a warrant.

However, it did not it include provision for judicial accountability and for police prosecutors to appear in court to speak to bail decisions.

Chand stabbed Marceau multiple times before the blade bent. She died in her mother Tracey's arms before emergency services arrived.

He was charged with Marceau's murder but acquitted last year by reason of insanity. However, he was sentenced to three years in prison for kidnapping and committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Marceau and her husband Brian teamed up with lobby group Sensible Sentencing Trust to campaign for tighter bail laws.

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Hundreds of people marched on Auckland High Court in February last year, and in May the petition was delivered to Parliament in by a group of supporters wearing turquoise, the teen's favourite colour.

- Fairfax Media

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