Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Select committee to hear Christie's mum

Christie Marceau. Photo / supplied.
Christie Marceau. Photo / supplied.

The mother of murdered Auckland teenager Christie Marceau will read her own submission to a select committee in her push for law changes she says will save lives.

Christie, 18, died in her mother Tracey's arms after a violent attack at their North Shore home in November.

Akshay Chand was charged with murder and will go on trial in October.

When Christie died, Chand was on bail after allegedly kidnapping and assaulting her just months earlier.

Mrs Marceau and her husband, Brian, teamed up with the Sensible Sentencing Trust to launch Christie's Law - a campaign aimed at strengthening bail laws. The couple believe that if bail laws had been tighter, Christie would still be alive.

Last month, Mrs Marceau presented a 60,000-signature petition to Parliament supporting the campaign. She will also make an oral submission to a select committee studying the Bail Amendment Bill.

If the amendment becomes law, people charged with serious crimes will have to prove to the Crown they will not be a threat to public safety if allowed out of custody.

At present, it is usually the prosecutor's responsibility to prove a defendant should not get bail. Police "vigorously" opposed bail for Chand after the alleged kidnapping and assault, but he was released to a house just 1km from the Marceau home.

Mrs Marceau is urging the public to have their own say on the bill before submissions close next Friday.

She is also bracing herself to read her own submission to the country's lawmakers.

"For God's sake, how many chances do offenders get to wreak such destruction on people's lives. Bail shouldn't be a right for an offender," she said.

"Why do they have rights when they take the rights from their victims? Bail should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If the first alleged offence is of a serious or life-threatening nature then lack of previous history should not be a consideration."

She said police opposition to bail should have more weight in court.

"It should be recognised more strongly and they should be given more rights to appeal decisions. Police see these offenders as they truly are. They deal with them on a day-to-day basis - experience the trauma to victims and see the destruction of families like us.

"Judges see them when they are on their best behaviour and a defence lawyer is pleading their case, saying the offender is remorseful."

Mrs Marceau said it was devastating that Christie's death was so easily avoidable.

"Currently bail is granted because accused offenders have rights. But where were Christie's rights to life? Why was her right to lead a full life not taken into account? And all those that have been taken before her. Offenders have a choice before they commit a crime. Victims do not."

DONATIONS
Christie's Law at Westpac, account number 03-0275-0644809-00
or phone 0900-723-369.

christieslaw.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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