29 Feb 2012

Sensible Sentencing fails in legal action over Burton

9:20 pm on 29 February 2012

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has lost its legal bid to be granted extra time to sue two government departments over their handling of the convicted murderer Graeme Burton.

Burton killed Karl Kuchenbecker in the Wainuiomata hills in 2007 while on parole after serving a life sentence for an earlier murder.

The trust claimed the Police and Corrections Departments breached their legal duty to ensure that nothing done by their employees at work caused harm to others.

In his decision on Wednesday, Judge Stephen Harrop found the trust's failure to lay charges resulted from its own lack of awareness of the possibility of it taking such action.

Judge Harrop says there is no reason why the prosecution could not have been laid within the six-month timeframe set out in the Health and Safety Legislation.

The judge said the Burton case led to many system changes and a further prosecution would achieve little.

The trust's spokesperson, Garth McVicar, says at least the organisation now knows the hurdles it must jump before a prosecution can be laid.

Mr McVicar says government departments are now on notice that they will be prosecuted if they fail to correctly handle repeat serious offenders and the trust will be waiting to pounce the next time one mishandles such a case.