Richard Moore: Judiciary's lack of justice getting old


As well as being classist, solo-parentist and youth-ist, there's another ist to be attached to what some laughingly call the New Zealand justice system - and that's pensioner-ist.

We all know that if you are from the dregs of society you'll get a pretty easy ride when you appear before The Beak, no matter how many times you do so.

Then, if you come from a split family, you'll also be able to offer up plenty of excuses to try to weasel your way out of a decent sentence for any crime you commit.

And, if you are under 17, you can get away with almost anything and expect nothing more than a bit of a telling off from a white, middle-class judge who is able to sleep at night because he's set another hopeless case down the road of recidivism through a lack of societal boundaries.

Now, it seems, we can add ancient people to the protected crims who laugh at our laws, our courts and the penalties handed down .

In the past week we have seen an 83-year-old woman given a year's home detention for a fairly major fraud.

Ohhh, I hear you say, she's old.

Oh, you read me right, she ripped off Work and Income for almost $215,000 - that's your money and mine - over a 25-year-period.

Deliberately, connivingly - she had two different identities - this woman ripped us all off by getting two benefits each week for a quarter of a century.

It wasn't guilt or her conscience that led to her 'fessing up either, she was caught out after her documents were checked following a car crash and her crime life was uncovered.

The Ministry of Social Development had called for a jail term, given the seriousness of the crime, and said age was no barrier to prosecuting fraudsters who rip taxpayers off.

But the Tauranga judge was reported to have said: "I am prepared to exercise my prerogative and show you the mercy of the court and you instead be sentenced to 12 months' home detention."

So, Work and Income can do the right thing and prosecute these thieves, only for judges to undo the hard work done to bring them to book.

As an aside you'll be pleased to know that she will be paying the $215,000 back - at $10.50 a week.

Given her advancing age you'd tend to think that someone was taking the piss out of us when that was agreed to.


***

Oh dear lord, why do some people want to perform in public?

I spent a few days down Mt Tongariro way last week hoping for a repeat performance of the mountain spewing out an ash plume.

It wasn't to be so spectacular, but the new vents are still pretty impressive.

On Saturday, there was the round Lake Taupo cycle race and I have to take my hat off to all competitors for giving the gruelling circuit a go.

At the entrance to Turangi there is a sign that includes a 2D figure of a trout fisherman - symbol of them thar parts - and I wanted to get some shots of cyclists zooming by it.

All well and good in the planning, however when I got there a cyclist-attired guitarist, complete with helmet and speakers, had encroached on the scene and was tuning up.

Here I have to say I quite like the choice of his music - the backing tracks were of Creedence Clearwater Revival and sounded good. His chord playing, however, did leave a bit to be desired. A lot actually.

Still, live and let live I say until ... he began on Dire Straits songs.

Now I consider Mark Knopfler to be the world's best guitarist (no correspondence will be entered into on that one) and his skills are sublime.

The Biker Chordman's skills are better than mine, but then I do not play the instrument at all.

Anyway the song he picked was arguably one of the rock great ballads - Romeo and Juliet - and, it has to be said, he utterly destroyed it.

I decided no photo was worth such pain and so packed up and left, vowing to sue the local council for giving him a permit to practise in public.


***

It never ceases to amaze me about the places some people want to break into.

While getting some brekkie at the Truck Stop cafe in Turangi the other day I heard an alarm sounding across the road.

Was it a truck dealership? A gold club? A motel?

No to all the above.

It was - and I did laugh at this - the Community Probation Services office.

Seems nothing is sacred.

richard@richardmoore.com

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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