22 Mar 2010

Judge reserves decision in Graeme Burton case

5:59 pm on 22 March 2010

A judge considering an application by the Sensible Sentencing Trust for extra time to lay a prosecution concerning government departments' handling of the Graeme Burton case has reserved his decison.

The trust is acting for the family of Karl Kuchenbecker, who was killed by Burton in 2007 while Burton was on parole.

Judy Ashton, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, is also involved in the case.

The legal timeframe in which such a case can be filed has passed, but the trust had asked the Wellington District Court for an extension of time to lay prosecutions against the police and the Department of Corrections under occupational safety and health legislation.

The trust's lawyer, Nikki Pender, told the court last week that the time extension was needed because her clients had had to wait for other inquiries into the Burton incident to be completed before taking action themselves.

However, the lawyer for the police and the Corrections Department, Robert Lithgow QC, said on Monday that the real reason for the delay was that it hadn't occurred to the trust until too late that events surrounding Burton's release might fit within a health and safety prosecution.

Mr Lithgow said the administrative actions the trust asserts can be prosecuted were a long way removed from the actual death of Mr Kuchenbecker.