Sex offender bailed by Judge Raoul Neave flees to OZ
A man with an "appalling" list of convictions has cut off his electronic bracelet and fled to Australia before he could face trial on sex charges.The 42-year-old was due to go on trial in Greymouth this week but police told the judge they believed he was now in Sydney. They were trying to find him, but the trial had to be aborted on Monday.
Last night, police were unable to say how the man could have left New Zealand, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust decried the decision to grant him bail in the first place, saying it is time judges were held accountable for their decisions.
The bail decision was made by Judge Raoul Neave, who caused controversy last year when he sentenced financial analyst Guy Hallwright to community work and a driving ban for breaking the legs of a man he drove over.
The penalty sparked outrage, but the Solicitor-General decided not to appeal against it despite saying it was "undoubtedly lenient".
The Christchurch man facing sex charges - who cannot be named to protect the identity of his alleged victim, his daughter - was arrested in October 2011 and initially remanded in custody.
Last March, Judge Neave granted the electronic bail, despite "strenuous" opposition from the Crown.At the bail hearing, the judge said the man had an "appalling" list of convictions, including 17 for family violence. Most of the offending occurred before 2000.
When he was granted electronic bail to an address in Pages Rd, Christchurch, Work and Income paid the $1500 bond and rent of $300 a week.The latest charges relate to allegations he sexually abused his daughter over an eight-month period."If you step out of line by even a centimetre you will be back in custody smartly," Judge Neave warned the man.
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokeswoman Ruth Money said: "This is yet another example of Judge Neave making a questionable decision. We are outraged ... given the alleged offender's history and possible threat to public safety. How can Judge Neave say the accused's criminal history is 'appalling' and then reward him with bail?"Ms Money said the trust's Christie's Law campaign would continue pushing for judges to be held accountable for their decisions.