29 Oct 2021

Man with schizophrenia jailed under three-strikes rule gets sentence shortened

3:59 pm on 29 October 2021

A mentally-disabled man has had his seven-year assault sentence reduced to six months after a resentencing in the High Court at Wellington today.

High Court in Wellington generic, 2 Molesworth St, Pipitea, Wellington 6011

Photo: RNZ / Aaron Smale

It means Daniel Clinton Fitzgerald, who has schizophernia, will now be released because he has served more than four-and-a-half years of his sentence.

He was originally charged in May 2018 for attempting to kiss a woman on a Wellington Street and received the maximum sentence under the Sentencing Act's three strikes rule, which was a 2010 ammendment to the Act.

However, in a Supreme Court decision, released earlier this month, it was ruled the original sentence went "well beyond excessive punishment" and was a breach of the Bill of Rights.

It said sentencing needed to take "into account his significant health issues".

Justice Simon France, who also laid down the 2018 sentence, today said Fitzgerald has "served way too long for his offence".

He said the new sentence "fit the circumstances".

Fitzgerald would now be released to a supervised accommondation facility, the location of which was suppressed, for up to two weeks while suitable long-term accommodation was secured.

A report to the court about Fitzgerald recommended he first be placed in a secure facility and then progress towards self-care in the community over about two years.

Justice France said Fitzgerald was "not currently mentally unwell or unable to be in the community".

Fitzgerald thanked Justice France before leaving the courtroom.