READER REPORT:

Justice system should focus on the truth

SIMON COWAN
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
DISAPPEARED: Philip John Cowan disappeared on the way from Wellington to Hastings on March 25, 2001.
DISAPPEARED: Philip John Cowan disappeared on the way from Wellington to Hastings on March 25, 2001.
SIMON COWAN: His son Philip John Cowan died 11 years ago.
PHIL REID
SIMON COWAN: His son Philip John Cowan died 11 years ago.

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We need to get rid of reasonable doubt and focus on the balance of probabilities in criminal justice.

Currently we have a nonsense. We have, 'just because he has been found not guilty, doesn't mean he is innocent'. 

My son, Philip, was murdered on 25 March 2001. His body was never found.

After reviewing the police evidence, the Crown Solicitor felt there was enough circumstantial evidence to show the three accused of the murder of my son had a case to answer.

A trial was held at the Wellington High Court in 2003.

However, after 10 weeks, the trial judge abandoned the case under section 347 of the Crimes Act. The Cowan family finally had our last step with the New Zealand Justices system on 18 November 2011, with a Coroner's inquest some 10 years, seven months and 24 days after our son was killed.

From this experience, which is unfortunately from a victim's perspective, I feel the criminal justice system should focus on the truth and what actually happened.

The public believe the criminal justice system is based on the truth. Most lawyers will tell you that's not true.

The court we have that is closest tasked to finding the truth is the Coroners Court. The coroners hearing is always held after the criminal hearing so we find out the truth well after the accused is found guilty or not guilty. A nonsense.

This is why we end up with cases like the Kahui twins and Scott Guy where people are killed but the criminal trial does not bring any truth on what actually happened to those loved ones. 

The Government has shown the way with the Pike River and the CTV building investigation in that a process has been set up to find out what actually happened before looking to bring anyone to account. Let's use this principle in the criminal justice system.


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