Suppression breach investigation ends

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012
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Should we still have suppression laws?

No, social media makes it impossible to control suppression orders anymore

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A legal team is considering how to proceed with the information Timaru police uncovered in their investigation of an alleged breach of a suppression order via social media.

"This is possibly the first case involving a suppression order breach via social media in the country," Mid-South Canterbury Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said.

Police received a complaint three weeks ago over comments on a social media website that named a 26-year-old man charged with the assault of a Timaru boy.

The man appeared in the Timaru District Court on November 21 and entered no plea to the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Judge Joanna Maze granted the man interim name suppression, but comments claiming to identify him appeared online within hours of his court appearance.

Investigators have handed over the file to a police legal team at Canterbury District headquarters in Christchurch for an opinion on how to pursue charges, if at all, Mr Gaskin said.

The process has been slow, he said, partly because the case was unprecedented in South Canterbury and could set a legal standard with far-reaching implications.

One of the issues still to be decided is whether to pursue a case against a single offender or multiple people who had allegedly identified the man on the social media website.

New laws in March increased the maximum penalty for breach of suppression by an individual from $1000 to $25,000, or, if the breach was knowingly or recklessly made, six months in prison.

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- The Timaru Herald

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