Editorial: No punch in prosecution

By Mark Story -
2 comments
A prosecution sparked by under-age drinking at McLean Park turned to farce, writes Mark Story
A prosecution sparked by under-age drinking at McLean Park turned to farce, writes Mark Story

It was fitting this week's court action involving Napier City Council had a flaccid finale.

Fitting, because the prosecution for selling booze to a minor and the one-day cricket match that started it all, were both abandoned.

Council pleaded guilty to selling two beers to a 17-year-old at McLean Park in February.

On Monday it escaped both consequence and conviction after its legal counsel successfully applied for a discharge without conviction.

It was a foreseeable push and arguably appropriate outcome.

But what resonated during sentencing was when police prosecutors told the court they didn't oppose council's application to be pardoned without penalty.

Understandably, the bewilderment of those, and there were many, who questioned police's initial decision to prosecute, intensified 10-fold.

None of us want to see minors get their hands on liquor.

But this was a case of dragging a first-time offender through the court, the commissioning of legal defence (on the public's dime), inter-agency efforts to stage a controlled purchase operation, prosecution and court time (on the public's dime) all of which was predicated on a match that never materialised.

Monty Python would have struggled to heap that much farce on futility.

If the decision to prosecute was driven by police - why not follow it through?

Instead, they achieved neither outcome nor deterrent. This in an age where many are questioning the number and allocation of policing resources.

This was tragi-comedy theatre of the highest order; a police sting with no sting in the tail.

Then again, cricket's a funny game.

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