29 May 2024

Fatal Dunedin stabbing: 'Name suppression needs to be respected' - principal

5:48 pm on 29 May 2024
Enere Mclaren-Taana

Sixteen-year-old Enere McLaren-Taana was fatally stabbed outside a Dunedin bus hub last week. Photo: Facebook screenshot

The school principal of a Dunedin teenager fatally stabbed last week is cautioning students not to illegally share the name of the 13-year-old murder accused.

Trinity Catholic College student Enere McLaren-Taana, 16, was attacked and stabbed outside the bus hub in Dunedin on Thursday.

He was rushed to hospital but later died, sparking an outpouring of grief among the local community.

A 13-year-old boy was granted name suppression when he appeared in the Youth Court on Friday charged with murder.

But reports of the accused's name permeating online have prompted Trinity Catholic College principal Kate Nicholson to issue a reminder to the wider school community of the legal ramifications.

Nicholson told RNZ high emotions and social media were a "dangerous" mix in scenarios like this.

"In a society where social media can sometimes be the first source of truth for some of our young ones growing up," she said.

"It's really important that they understand we've got a legal system in New Zealand that is trusted to make the right decision, and law is put in place to protect everybody.

"Name suppression is one example of that and that needs to be respected."

Trinity Catholic College in central Dunedin.

Trinity Catholic College in central Dunedin. Photo: Google Maps

Under the Criminal Procedure Act, any person who "knowingly or recklessly" publishes any name in breach of a suppression order could face a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment, or a fine of up to $25,000.

Nicholson said in a democratic society where freedom of speech was a factor, managing these situations presented difficulties.

"It's not unusual considering the number of witnesses that were present and Dunedin is a fairly connected place," she said.

But she said from a local school perspective, it presented an opportunity for education.

"The processes of legal systems, the rights and the wrongs is maybe not learned about quite enough.

"It's an opportunity for our young ones to have some transparency and some learning around all of that."

Whether such actions are deliberate or unknowing, it is not the first time court-ordered suppression conditions have been defied online.

During the Grace Millane murder trial in 2019, police issued a warning after the British tourist's killer Jesse Kempson was named on social media when he still had name suppression.

Google also apologised after publishing Kempson's name when it appeared in the company's "What's Trending" email following his arrest in December 2018.

A teenager was stabbed at a bus hub on Great King Street in Dunedin CBD on 23 May 2024. It is across the road from the police station.

The scene of the fatal attack. Photo: RNZ / Tess Brunton

Meanwhile, tributes continue to pour in for Enere less than a week after the tragedy.

A Givealittlepage has been set up for his family with more than $13,000 raised as of Wednesday afternoon.

"Our McLaren-Taana extended family had our hearts and lives shattered when our Enere, tragically lost his life on Thursday,

"We acknowledge we know our 'Chuppi's' tragedy rocked more than our family and his close friends, and we feel that deep hurt with you all."

Heartfelt messages have also been shared by donators on the page.

"Your child should've come home from school, we all expect our children to come home from school.

"Cannot comprehend your pain and distress."

Another message read: "You had a great impact on our rugby team and we will miss you. You were a great player and a great person."

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