Don't turn our backs on these guys

A lot of us would be inclined to take Vincent Warren at his word. His very, very ugly word.

The stalker who has tormented a Canterbury woman for four years has been dispatched to five years' jail for criminal harrassment and threatening to kill. More specifically, threatening to torture his victim and cut her throat.

We could call those threats the utterances of a sick fantasist. Distressing as hell, though unlikely to be actioned.

But are we sure? Dead sure?

We are not. Neither, it would seem, is his victim, who is considering fleeing the county. Nor Judge Alistair Garland, who has made clear he would have preferred to send Warren to the High Court, where the open-ended sentence of preventive detention could considered.

Except the law doesn't allow that. These circumstance are not deemed serious enough. Indeed, in terms of deeds so far, rather than threats, they are not. But this surely represents a failure of legislative imagination because the circumstances drip with menace for the future.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust isn't always sensible, but this time it draws a plausible connection to this case and the threats Malcolm Chaston made in prison before he was released and killed Vanessa Pickering.

Surely the option would be that when Warren has served his time, his actions must at least be closely monitored.

Ridiculously, even if Warren isn't considered the least bit rehabilitated, under present law officials simply don't have the authority to undertake that sort of monitoring.

Meanwhile, an upcoming trial for the country's most prolific stalker, Glenn Green, took a curious turn when he tried to oppose media applications to film his court appearance, on the grounds that it would cause him and his family "undue stress". How's that for sour irony?

We live in a time when stalking can have hideous consequences for victims simply by the extent to which modern communication enhances the old-fashioned creepy techniques of hanging around leeringly. And also where violence, even savagery, can follow.

Our laws need work. They really do.

The Southland Times