You might be lucky and appear before a naive judge – or be luckier and face Judge Neave

You’ve got to wonder about Judge Raoul Neave’s grasp on this law-and-order thing when some of the crims he has dealt with claim to have emerged from his courtroom laughing.

Judge Neave, of course, is the bloke who outraged public opinion by going soft on an investment banker recently.

An editorial in the NZ Herald at the time (here), headed Judge leaves himself wide open to criticism, quoted Associate Professor Bill Hodge –

“I suspect someone who wasn’t a merchant banker wouldn’t have quite got the same consideration”.

Fair to say, a merchant banker, or investment banker, or any old banker, would have been given special consideration if Alf had been the judge.

But it would have been a consideration of the negative sort, because Alf is not fond of bankers, including merchant and investment ones.

The case that caused the fuss involved a bloke called Guy Hallwright.

Judge Neave sentenced him to 250 hours’ community work for running over Sung Jin Kim, breaking both his legs.

He told Hallwright he had suffered humiliation beyond what was fair while facing a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard.

It was described as a road-rage case.

The victim has been offered free help by a barrister who says he will appeal the non-custodial sentence meted out to Hallwright.

As the ODT reported (here) –

Sung Jin Kim still has trouble walking and faces further operations on his legs after being run over by Forsyth Barr analyst Guy Hallwright in September 2010.

He was shocked when he heard Hallwright didn’t go to jail, with Judge Raoul Neave last week sentencing Hallwright to 250 hours’ community and banning him from driving for 18 months.

Hallwright was also ordered to pay Mr Kim $20,000 reparation.

After learning of the sentence, APNZ received dozens of emails criticising the sentence, and Auckland Council of Civil Liberties president and barrister Barry Wilson and fellow barrister Michael Kidd said there could be grounds for a judicial review.

Dr Kidd, who said he was “disgusted” by the sentence, said he would appeal it free of charge.

As it happens, bloody geckos are better protected than road-rage victims.

The NZ Herald reported a few months ago (here) that a German reptile poacher had been jailed for four months for trying to smuggle rare native geckos out of New Zealand.

In Christchurch District Court he pleaded guilty to charges of hunting and possessing the geckos, which he claimed he intended to swap for gila monsters, which he collected.

And guess who locked the bugger up?

In sentencing him to 16 weeks imprisonment, Judge Raoul Neave told Hahn that New Zealand’s unique, indigenous and rare wildlife needed protection.

“You came here with the express purpose of catching these geckos and taking them,” he said.

“Crimes like this increase the risk of such animals becoming extinct.”

Fair enough.

Alf would have locked him up for a long time just for being a German felon and given him a double dose of jail time if he had been a German banker.

But today the NZ Herald tells us (here) of crims who have been let off lightly by Judge Neave.

One of them is described as a persistent criminal with a long record who says he walked out of court laughing after a judge gave him a light sentence for arson.

And a killer drink-driver who dodged prison now questions whether justice was served – or if the same judge should have put him inside.

The Herald report then zeroes in on dear old Judge Neave.

It is not uncommon for victims of crime to complain there is no justice in the courts. But with Judge Raoul Neave, even the criminals he keeps out of prison question whether he should be tougher.

The paper goes on to cite the case of Craig Lyell, who with his wife Natasha faced arson and fraud charges in 2008.

The couple had insured a car for more than it was worth, set fire to it, then lied to police about it being stolen so he could make a false insurance claim.

Lyell, who has a long criminal record, including a rape conviction, said: “I went to court expecting a prison sentence. I walked out of court laughing. It was a slap on the wrist as opposed to three months in prison. I wanted to go down the pub and have a beer to celebrate.”

He was given 250 hours community service. Lyell said he had been to prison before and was on a community work term when he went to court. He said adding more community work to his existing sentence was pointless.

An appeal by the Crown meant he was given a tougher sentence more in keeping with his expectations.

The Herald then lists some of the sentences by Judge Raoul Neave – dating back to September 2008 – that have sparked criticism.

It’s enough to send a bloke to Facebook (here), to sign up alongside those who say enough’s enough and the judge should go.

But Alf likes to be fair in these things, and he has yet to dig into the files to winkle out cases where the judge has shown his tougher side.

It’s easy to list a few soft sentences.

But let’s put them in context with his full sentencing record.

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