No charges yet over breach of court order

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013

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No charges have been laid in a months-old police investigation into the alleged breach of a court suppression order, and it is not clear if any ever will be.

Timaru police began an investigation in November into allegations that court-imposed name suppression had been breached in a high-profile South Canterbury assault case.

"No decisions have yet been made on whether charges will be laid, nor on the number of parties that might face any such charges," a Canterbury police spokesman said.

Name suppression was granted to Matthew John Krouse, 26, of Timaru, when he first appeared in the Timaru District Court on a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm following an assault on a 9-year-old Timaru schoolboy.

In a subsequent court appearance that suppression order was removed.

But within hours of his first appearance, a photo and com- ments identifying Krouse as the accused was circulating on Facebook.

A complaint over the alleged breach was lodged with Timaru police.

"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 at the time.

University of Canterbury law professor Ursula Cheer told the Timaru Herald that prosecutions of such breaches were rare, and it was not clear whether the courts would view differently the person who first breached the suppression order to those who had repeated the breach.

There are generally two types of suppression orders:

Automatic suppression, which covers specific people, evidence and details in criminal cases and in specialised courts.

The other form is ordered by the judge and can deal with the suppression of anything from names to individual facts, sections of evidence or even (at least temporarily) suppression of a whole case.

Most of the rules surrounding suppression have been long established and apply not only to the print and broadcast media but also to internet news sites and other internet applications including blogs and social media.

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