Lies told in Parliament Re Section 59 case involving so-called “plank of wood”

From: David Lane
Sent: Friday, 30 March 2007 2:24 p.m.
Subject: Fw: Lies told in Parliament Re Section 59 case involving so-called "plank of wood"


Lies told in Parliament Re Section 59 case involving so-called "plank of wood" – "assult" of boy. Green Party U-turn below.

Dear MPs and all opposed to Ms Sue Bradford’s Bill

I spoke again last night, at length. to the Hawkes Bay man, Mr Gary Owen McLeod, whose case the Cabinet Minister, Hon. Mark Burton, recently referred to in his speech in parliament supporting Sue Bradford’s bill. Burton referred to a man [not named] who was charged with having assaulted a child with a "plank of wood" and "got off under a s. 59 defence". This is such a high profile case that anyone who has been following the s. 59 debate would have known that he was referring to the Hawkesbay man whose son’s bruised bottom was pictured in the Hawkes Bay Herald (now called Hawesbay Today).

I contacted Mr Burton’s office and pointed out to his staff that the Minister, like many of Bradford’s bill supporters, has again, not told the truth. The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, and her Deputy, the

Hon, Michael Cullen, have both referred to this case as involving a plank of wood, as have the Green Party and Sue Bradford, despite the fact that they must know the true facts by now.

The man, Gary Owen McLeod, used a small piece of wood, the same dimensions as a child’s ruler (approx 30 cms by 2cms based on Court records and the local newspaper report supplied to me by Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Helen Simpson! last year).

The father disciplined the 8-year old boy by smacking him on his clothed bottom, as punishment for stealing $40 off an adult friend of his, and lying about it (the boy denied stealing the money). The boy had been given a number of warnings about stealing and lying by his father, and knew what the consequences would be. The father desisted from his smacks when the boy started to cry.

The father had attended a few parenting courses in the Hawkes Bay over the years prior to the incident and had genuinely sought help in the upbringing of this boy who proved quite unruly after being transferred to his care, in the course of an ongoing custody battle for the boy involving his ex-female partner.

Parent-Line, a well-respected child advocasy agency, had advised him at one of these courses that corporal punishment was OK to use when appropriate. He had tried all methods other than corporal punishment to bring to an end the boy’s stealing and willful lying, before the incident of ‘assault’ for which he was charged by the police. All other methods had been to no avail.

In court he was charged with assault under s. 194(a) of the Crimes Act (1961) – :assault against a child under 14 years of age". He was acquitted by a jury of his peers after his lawyer Tony Welsh, was able to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, the true facts before the jury. The abrasions over parts of his buttocks and back had been caused by an accident he had had some days earlier while roller-skating. He had fallen off his skates onto a hard abrasive surface while being dragged on his skates by other children.

It was argued that the distinctive grazing and ‘pot marks’ revealed in photographs shown to the jury could not have been created by the actions of the smacking by his father with a tiny piece of wood. The boy confirmed the cause of the injuries as the accident.

The doctor (paediatrician) conceded that injuries from the accident would have left the boy’s buttocks very vulnerable to further bruising should he have had further force applied to the sensitive areas. The father candidly admitted in court that he had forgotten about the earlier accident and certainly did not appreciate that his son’s buttocks would have been so vulnerable. As the boy had been shunted from one parent the other in the course of the custody battle, it appears that the father may not have been privy to all the facts concerning his son’s prior injury before the smacking incident.

The father was acquitted by the jury who were quick recognise that the attempt to link the injuries with the level of force used in discipline, as put forward by the prosecutor, could not possibly be established without reasonable doubt; and that other events (surrounding the accident) could be be established beyond reasonable doubt to have caused the injuries.

The prosecution case fell apart based onthe facts, not on the basis of a s. 59 defence. Furthermore, the prosecution failed to establish that there was any intention on the part of the father to cause injury to his son. Thse who knew him rcognised that he was a very mild-mannered man.

Mr Mark Burton has not told the truth in parliament. He has misled parliament. The continuing misrepresentation of this case serves the interests of Sue Bradford’s supporters.

The Green Party, while admitting that the implement used was not a "plank of wood" or a "4 by 2" have continued to use the distorted shock value of this case to push their flawed bill. They refer to the man using a piece of timber or a hunk of wood to "thrash" and "assault" his boy. What utter piffel! The Prime Minister should be ashamed that she and her Ministers have been telling so many lies about this case.

David Lane
Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.     

—– Original Message —–

Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 8:24 AM

Subject: Section 59


Dear Mr Lane,

Thank you for your enquiries relating to Sue Bradford’s Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Bill 

In particular, you wanted specific references for a case that was referred to at some stage involving a large piece of wood. We have only ever used material available in the public domain as basis for our speeches.

The case that we refer to is the Napier case from March 2001 in which a Havelock North man was acquitted after hitting his eight-year-old son with a piece of wood.

I have researched the 4" by 2" claim that you referred to. It may have arisen erroneously from this case, but is certainly not in any of our material any longer. If other agencies have used it they may have sourced it from an opinion piece in the Southland Times by the then Bishop of Otago-Southland Penny Jamieson (28 August 2001). I have attached this for your information.

I hope this is helpful.

Thank you for your interest,

Keiller MacDuff


Keiller MacDuff
Executive Assistant to Sue Bradford MP
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
Room 8.05 Bowen House
Parliament Buildings
Ph: 04-470-6721 Fax: 04-472-6003

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