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Nelson MP Nick Smith has welcomed the introduction to Parliament of the Rights of Victims of Insane Offenders Bill and its referral to the Justice Select Committee.

“This bill is in response to Nelson woman Wendy’s Petition that I presented to Parliament last year on the injustice of victims of crimes committed by people deemed insane. This is an important step forward and my effort is now focused on getting this law change completed.

“Wendy Hamer was victim of an attempted murder on her by a mental health patient who punched, kicked, stabbed and poured boiling water over her. The attacker Blair Swain said he would plea insanity, did and was sent to Christchurch for psychiatric care. He soon returned to Nelson without any consultation or notification to Wendy that would have occurred if assailant was sent to prison.

“Another Nelson woman Sarah Preece was violently raped at her Brook Valley home by Jacob Jensen who had sought but not received mental health treatment at Nelson Hospital. Again he knew he would and did get a finding of not guilty by way of insanity. Sarah was denied the normal rights under our Victim’s Rights Act because of his insanity plea. Adding insult to injury he was allowed access to her personal health records but she was not allowed his. This is both bizarre and wrong.

The Rights of Victims of Insane Offenders Bill introduced to Parliament this week changes “not guilty on account of insanity” to “proven but defendant is not criminally responsible on account of insanity”. It also ensures victims of such crimes get the same rights as others like Victim Impact Statements and consultation on decisions of release, leave and placement of the offender.

“I must pay huge tribute to Wendy and Sarah who, not only suffered these horrendous attacks, but had the courage to tell their stories and help drive this move. I also thank the 1467 Nelsonians who signed Wendy’s petition calling for such a change. I congratulate Taupo MP Louise Upston on sponsoring the bill. She has had similar constituency injustices and we have worked closely together to get this fixed.

“The Justice Committee, of which I am deputy chair is calling for submissions on the bill. I encourage submitters to:

Committee Clerk,

Justice Select Committee,

Parliament Buildings,

WELLINGTON or email: ju@parliament.govt.nz

 

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