26 Jan 2011

High Court hears bid to prosecute Govt agencies

5:10 pm on 26 January 2011

A lawyer for the District Court says the court was right to turn down the Sensible Sentencing Trust's request for extra time to file prosecutions over the handling of the Graeme Burton case.

The court's decision was reviewed by the Wellington High Court on Wednesday.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust, which lobbies for longer prison sentences, wants to prosecute the Department of Corrections and police over failures in their handling of convicted double-murderer Graeme Burton, who killed again while on parole.

The trust's lawyer, Nikki Pender, told the High Court that the District Court judge was empowered to extend time for the trust to lay charges against those organisations.

However, the District Court's lawyer, Robert Lithgow, said the law is very specific about when time extensions can be granted.

Mr Lithgow said they are not available in cases like this, where the trust was simply unaware of the legal options open to it.

The High Court has reserved its decision.