Protection order 'only a piece of paper'

By Joanne Carroll

15-year-old Marie Davis was raped and murdered by Dean Stewart Cameron, a man who had previous convictions for breaching protection orders.  Photo / Supplied
15-year-old Marie Davis was raped and murdered by Dean Stewart Cameron, a man who had previous convictions for breaching protection orders. Photo / Supplied

Protection order are not worth the paper they are written on and do not protect victims, says a victim of domestic abuse.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was kneed in the face and strangled while her four children cowered in their rooms two weeks ago.

New figures show her case is one involving more than 10,000 people who were charged with 21,049 incidents of breaching protection orders between 2006 and 2010.

The woman lives in fear of her partner being bailed because she has no faith in protection orders.

"Why should I take my children into hiding and he walk the streets? A protection order is only a piece of paper. It won't stop him," she said.

The figures released by the Ministry of Justice under the Official Information Act show men 35 to 39 are the biggest offenders.

Of the offenders, 6361 were convicted and 1725 given a custodial sentence. The rest, 4469, were found not guilty or had the charges withdrawn. In 2010, 2361 people faced 4493 charges of breaching protection orders.

The district with the highest number of breaches in 2010 was Wellington with 290, followed by Canterbury (272) and Manukau (217).

The Ministry of Justice was unable to say how many protection orders were in place or provide more recent figures.

Nationwide, 1400 new protection orders were granted between 2007 and 2011.

A protection order is made by a Family Court judge to protect people from domestic violence. Orders are permanent and contain non-violence and non-contact conditions.

Police Safety Orders were introduced in July 2009, giving the police the power to issue non-violence and non-contact conditions for up to five days.

Figures show that, of the 10,238 orders issued up to the end of January this year, there were 691 breaches.

Police national statistics manager Gavin Knight said he could not provide more detailed information on the breaches.

"Police do not routinely produce statistics on persons involved in police safety orders, details of the breaches, penalties imposed, number of repeat offenders, the number of complaints from protected people, the nature of the complaints and how they were dealt with ... the information is not held by police," he said. A review of the orders was completed in December and the results would be published next month.

The Auckland woman who fears for her and her children's safety said she had been with her partner for 18 years and had lived through physical and emotional abuse.

"Last time I tried to leave, he stole my son. As soon as you see them, you go back. He has a hold over me. I was 16 when I met him and he was 30. He is in a gang and he has six pages of previous convictions for assault," she said.

Her partner rang her twice from prison after he was remanded in custody two weeks ago.

In that time, he has had five bail hearings and each time she had to pack her bags so she and her children could flee to a Women's Refuge safe house if he was released.

He has been charged with three counts of male assaults female, one of assault with a weapon and one of assault with intent to injure. He has been remanded in custody to reappear March 21.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the Government had removed the lower penalty for a first offence of a breach of a protection order in 2009.

The current penalty was now up to two years in prison or a $5000 fine.

In its post-election plan, the Government committed to further increase the maximum sentence for breaches of protection orders. Legislation will be introduced to Parliament this year to make these changes, she said.

"When somebody is made respondent to a protection order, they are also required to attend a stopping violence programme. This an important part of the long-term response needed to prevent future domestic violence.

"As part of the Family Court Review, the Ministry of Justice is considering how these programmes could be improved to respond to the nature of violence and the underlying issues experienced by an individual and their family," she said.

The Government has committed $500,000 a year to the safe@home programme to ensure that victims of domestic violence can be safe in their own homes. The programme will begin in July this year.

Women's Refuge spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin said many people did not access protection orders because of a lack of information, fear, shame, poverty, previous bad experiences of the justice system or a belief that protection orders were ineffective.

"While the Government may be changing the penalties for breaches, it is doing very little in investing in the causes of domestic and family violence. Protection orders are ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff measures. We will always be chasing our tail if we don't put money at the front end and stop violence happening in the first place," she said.

She said the $500,000 investment in safer homes was about the figure Women's Refuge lost from its baseline funding to supply short-term emergency shelter for women and children.

OUT OF BREACH

* Obsessive stalker Glen Goldberg, 41, was sentenced to six years' jail in 2004 for criminal harassment. He had more than 190 convictions and about 30 for breach of protection orders.

* A Kaingaroa man who beat his partner after finding her kissing another man was jailed for six years for her manslaughter in August last year. Gavin Horua, 35, killed Luana Ani Raukawa at Kaingaroa on November 11, 2009. Eleven of Horua's 48 previous convictions had been for breaching orders.

* A Whangarei man who repeatedly assaulted his partner despite a protection order was jailed for two years and eight months in June last year. Gemolh Wind, 37, pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including breaching a protection order.

* A Masterton man who staged a mock hanging of his 9-year-old son was sentenced to two years eight months in prison last June for 20 charges including numerous breaches of protection orders.

* A 30-year-old Kaitaia man, Millar Ian Wikaira, viciously beat his partner. In April last year, he pleaded guilty to charges including four of breaching a protection order.

* Tauranga man Grant Waru Tait kidnapped his ex-partner at knifepoint and assaulted her, despite a protection order. He was jailed for more than five years in 2009.

* Zachariah Monty Pini raped a woman who was under a protection order in November 2009.

* Joseph Ogle, 28, was given a life sentence with a 19-year minimum non-parole term after bashing his former partner, Joeline Rangimaria Edmonds, 21, and Jashana Maree Robinson, 16, to death with a softball bat in October 2009. A concurrent six-months was added for breaching a protection order.

* Rapist Dean Stewart Cameron had previous convictions for breaching protection orders when he murdered 15-year-old Marie Davis in 2008.

* Graeme Rudy Alex Herewini, 42, struck his partner in the head with a tomahawk and then kicked her numerous times in front of her children in August 2009. She had a protection order against him.

* A Rotorua woman hired a bodyguard to protect herself from her "psychotic" former partner because a protection order didn't stop him in June 2008. She told the Daily Post he had breached it 23 times.

- Herald on Sunday

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