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Interesting youth justice cases in latest Child Law update

Content updates

For the latest update, Child Law’s Youth Justice chapter includes a number of cases with interesting content for the sector and author Dr Nessa Lynch has been happy to share that detail with customers.

Here are just six of the many cases included in the commentary for the latest update of the Youth Justice chapter in the Child Law product. Three of them were heard a while ago but have only recently been published (not an unfamiliar occurrence for Family law cases).

G v Police [2024] NZHC 189

This case involved the first successful review application brought by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and relates to a mistake over the age of a young person. The convictions were set aside and the sentence quashed (however the sentence had, in fact, been served).

Police v HJ [2023] NZYC 523

In this case, the Judge criticised the police for an apparent deficiency around the specialised approach required for young people under the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. At [84] “This highlights the ongoing issue of the lack of training for all police officers in dealing with young people. The youth court is a specialist jurisdiction, with specialist lawyers, social workers and police youth aid officers however the reality is that when young people come to the attention of the police or offend, they are dealt with by front line police officers who are not trained to deal with young people and are not fully aware or trained in their obligations under the Act.”

Police v UA [2022] NZYC 146

The young person (UA) faced a range of charges relating to vehicles, driving and property. The Judge placed significant emphasis on the general principles of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, particularly around mana tamaiti and the involvement of whānau, hapū and iwi. There were questions about whether Oranga Tamariki had failed in their statutory duty to uphold UA’s mana, which should have included ensuring that whānau, hapū and iwi were actively involved and participated in the decision-making for him.

Police v WR [2020] NZYC 601

This decision provides useful detail on how admissibility of evidence to rebut the presumption of doli incapax can be considered.

R v AN [2021] NZYC 491

This case found that a comprehensive review of the law relating to access to Youth Court records was necessary to resolve a question about disclosure in a separate proceeding. The case involved a question of access to records (including an FGC record) where the young person’s admission was relevant to a separate but related prosecution in the adult court system. There was a question about whether it was the District Court (Access to Court Documents) Rules 2017 or the Oranga Tamariki Rules 1989 that applied to access. The Judge noted that there was a significant issue with access rules in relation to the Youth Court. A specialised regime for access was required, particularly to consider the rights of the child or young person to privacy.

The King v HC [2024] NZHC 447

This was a high-profile case where two young men had had name suppression continued due to the potential safety risks of releasing their identities. It involved a Crown appeal against a District Court finding of permanent name suppression for young people convicted of sexual offending. This case of prolific sexual offending was known as Roast Busters, which had a high degree of public interest and media coverage. Had the respondents been charged when they were young people (the offences occurred when they were between 16 and 17 years old but before the age of penal majority was raised to 18), they would have received permanent name suppression, but the Crown said that since they were aged in the adult range at the time of the proceedings, they could not rely on this. The respondents are now adults. The Judge agreed with the District Court Judge that publication would endanger the safety of the young men.

Clare Barrett: Senior Legal Editor - Analytical Law
By Clare Barrett
Senior Legal Editor – Analytical Law

Clare Barrett is a Senior Legal Editor for the Analytical Law team in Thomson Reuters, and proudly responsible for the Family Law and the New Zealand Guide to Trusts/Working with Trusts products. Apart from a short spell with the Parliamentary Counsel Office, she has worked for over 20 years within the publishing side of Thomson Reuters in a number of different editorial and production roles.

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