Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Stricter bail decisions thanks to 'Christie's Law'

Christie was killed in 2011 by 19-year-old Akshay Chand, who was on bail at the time
Christie was killed in 2011 by 19-year-old Akshay Chand, who was on bail at the time

Courts have been encouraged to review bail decisions if the offender goes on to commit a serious crime, in response to a 58,000-signature petition which demanded stricter bail laws.

Parliament's Law and Order Committee recommended several changes to the bail system, but did not go as far as approving the main demands made by the "Christie's Law'' movement.

The committee released a report today in response to the petition submitted by relatives of North Shore teenager Christie Marceau.

Christie was killed in 2011 by 19-year-old Akshay Chand, who was on bail at the time.

The petition's demands included immediate amendment to bail laws and annual review of judges' performance.

MPs on the committee did not recommend these changes, but they noted that bail laws had been tightened and made some recommendations to improve bail processes.

The committee's report said judicial accountability was a "complex and sensitive area'' and it was important the Parliament did not impinge on the judiciary's independence.

"On the other hand, the judiciary needs to be transparent and accountable for its decisions and the processes within its control, and to maintain a high degree of public confidence.''

The Chief Justice was already considering some changes, such as a new risk management tool for bail decisions and a peer review programme for judges' practice.

The committee said procedures should be established within the judiciary to analyse bail decisions critically when a released offender had committed a serious crime after their release.

It said consistency in bail decisions could be improved if, where possible, the same judge heard any further hearings on a bail application.

A recommendation was also made to consider allowing police to appeal bail decisions to the High Court.

Bail laws were amended earlier this year to extend the reverse burden of proof in bail decisions to 17-19 year-olds with a serious criminal record

- NZ Herald

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