Judge's jail warning after lunge at abuser

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2012

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A victims' lobby group has accused a Taranaki judge of threatening the wrong man that he will get jail for lunging at his 15-year-old daughter's abuser.

The father pleaded guilty on Thursday to assaulting prisoner Grant Selby with a weapon - a glass - during sentencing in the High Court in New Plymouth on June 29 as the court was returning from morning recess.

The father, who was sitting with his family in the public gallery, admitted he lost his temper when Selby gave him the fingers from the dock.

In the New Plymouth District Court, Judge Allan Roberts accused the father, who has interim name suppression, of bringing the whole justice system into disrepute telling him he was likely to be jailed when he was sentenced next month.

But yesterday the Sensible Sentencing Trust's Garth McVicar spoke out in support of the man saying it was not the father but the judge who brought the  justice system into disrepute.

The judge should have immediately charged the prisoner, Selby, with contempt of court when he gave the fingers to the father of the daughter.

"Surely it is a natural reaction for a father to respond when confronted with such arrogance from a man accused of sexually violating his daughter?"

The court heard how the father had leapt out of his seat in the public gallery, grabbed a glass from a lawyer's desk and tried to attack Selby, yelling that he had been "messing with his kids".

Mr McVicar said the judge's behaviour was "another nail in the coffin for a once reputable court system".

"Judges and courts once held huge respect from the community but that had now deteriorated to the point where the public were feeling frustrated and angry.

"If people can not have faith in the so-called justice system a counter reaction from the public is only natural.

"What this father did is perfectly understandable," Mr McVicar said.

In court, the father's defence lawyer Andrew Laurenson described Selby's actions as extreme provocation and it would be extremely harsh for the father to be given jail.

The father was remanded on bail for sentencing on September 14.

In July Selby's sentencing was postponed until December to allow him time to undergo counselling.

His co-offender Bruce Charnley was given preventive detention.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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