Tuesday, 17 February 2009

LIBERTARIAN SUS: A Tale of Two Sentences

Susan Ryder does something the media forgot to do: comparing the sentences handed down to two high-profile criminals.

The local news was full of reports last Friday on the sentencing of two New Zealand men for the respective deaths of two New Zealand children.

Both were high-profile cases on which much has been written and said.  Both occurred in the North Island. Both caused shock and outrage within the population at large. And both men have received almost identical sentences.

The first case concerns 51 year-old Bruce Emery, found guilty of the manslaughter of Pihema Cameron, aged 15. Thirteen months ago, Cameron and a friend decided to deface Emery’s garage in Manurewa. Armed with a knife, Emery attempted to disrupt their activities and in the ensuing fracas, Cameron was killed.

The second case concerns 49 year-old William Curtis, found guilty for his role in the death of Nia Glassie in Rotorua, aged 3. Little more than a baby when she died, Nia had the fatal misfortune to be born into the wrong family, six of whom are now in prison for her death.

So there we have the essence of each case. Let’s now look at them a little more closely.

Bruce Emery personifies the Kiwi who’s just had enough.

  1. Had enough of tolerating teens who don’t give a damn for anyone else or anyone else’s property.
  2. Had enough of paying for people who think they have the right to live off others for nothing in return.
  3. Had enough of the endless excuses trotted out by apologists for the actions of those same people.
  4. Had enough of police who never come when you call them and seldom treat this sort of property crime seriously when they do.
  5. Had enough of politicians who bleat about how they are going to “get tough” on crime prior to every election – and then do sweet bugger all afterward.

So a family man, a complete stranger to law-breaking, spots a couple of teenage vandals, grabs a knife in self-defence (so he said) and, at the end of his tether, his actions result in the fatal stabbing of one of the perpetrators.

Convicted last December, he, via his lawyer, reportedly asked the Cameron family for forgiveness. Based on the very public reaction by the Camerons to his sentencing last Friday, he will be waiting some time. Described by Herald columnist Tapu Misa as “bitter and intemperate”, the family, all sporting t-shirts bearing the deceased’s image, were visibly angry and disgusted with the sentence of four years and three months.

That the Cameron family has lost a loved member cannot be denied. That a teenager has lost his life as a result of tagging somebody’s garage is undeniably harsh. But nowhere have the Camerons acknowledged that Pihema died as a result of committing a crime, as a result of his actions. Had he been at home, or anywhere else that evening, supervised and minding his own business, he might still be alive. Had he been by Bruce Emery’s garage and not defaced it, he would not have died in the manner he did. Wailing about his loss while wearing t-shirts bearing his picture is all very well and good for ratings-mindful media and head-shaking do-gooders, but sadly, it’s a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

On to the second case where six people have been convicted and sentenced for the death of Nia Glassie, William Curtis being the sixth. Let’s re-cap what he did to his tiny de facto step-granddaughter:

  1. Tied a scarf around her neck and lifted her by it until she went purple in the face.
  2. Slapped her with such force that her face would bleed.
  3. Shouted and swore at her to shut up or he would stomp on her head.

The terror to which that child was subjected is beyond comprehension. She lived with that monster – that subhuman – for four months. And he was one of six – six – adults responsible for the terror, two of whom (his sons) are serving sentences for her murder. It has been noted that Curtis remains unremorseful for his actions.

Unlike Pihema Cameron, Nia’s mother was not outside court last Friday morning wailing and wearing a t-shirt bearing her daughter’s image. Lisa Kuka is already in prison, being found guilty on two charges of the manslaughter of her own daughter. Unlike Pihema Cameron, wee Nia Glassie never had a chance.

Tapu Misa has the temerity to say that Pihema Cameron was killed “over a bit of paint.”  Fellow columnist Brian Rudman – another stranger to the concept of personal responsibility – calls the overwhelming pro-Emery public reaction “lacking in common decency and civility.” And Maori party co-leader Tariana Turia describes taggers as a “misunderstood sub-culture of artists.” The race card has turned up with yawning predictability, as have comparisons with the longer sentence handed down to (then 12 year old) Bailey Junior Kurariki for his part in the murder of Michael Choy seven years ago, whilst ignoring the premeditated nature of the latter crime. Welcome to glaring examples of point three, as above.

And so to last Friday’s sentencing. Bruce Emery received four years and three months for the manslaughter of Pihema Cameron. William Curtis received four years for his role in the death of Nia Glassie.

Perhaps those expressing shock and outrage over “unjust” or “pathetic” sentencing might like to ponder that.

* * Read Libertarian Sus every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *


  1. For the record, allow me to post a slightly dissenting view here.

    For reasons I've posted already, I have little if any sympathy for the man who killed Pihema Cameron.

  2. I haven't excused Emery for his actions, PC. I didn't at the time and I don't now. His heat of the moment actions resulted in the death of a teenager and a jail sentence is just.

    My point was the almost non-existent reaction by the usual apologists to the *other* sentence last Friday, for actions that had occurred over a four month period.

  3. "My point was the almost non-existent reaction by the usual apologists to the *other* sentence last Friday, for actions that had occurred over a four month period."

    Aye, I know that. And those apologists will do all they can to avoid that point.

  4. Sean Fitzpatrick17 Feb 2009, 09:41:00

    One can not help wonder if it had been a teenage skinhead that had been stabbed while being caught daubing swasticas on someones garage the public / media reaction would have been different? Thoughts?

  5. In Australia as a kid, I was once charged with 'driving in a manner dangerous to the public'.
    I was speeding and although the road was almost empty and the weather fine, the magistrate pointed out to me that I was, under that law,responsible for the probable and possible consequences of my actions.
    Following that logic if people didn't break the damn law then they wouldn't suffer any consequences.The fault must surely lie with the person who has a choice in the first place--the lawbreaker.
    (I was acquitted, because I was luckily able to prove that the cop lied :-) )

  6. KG

    That law, as you've described it, is an example of an application of the precautionary principle. Likely it is a bad law.

    You can't know what all the future possibilities are. You can only predict what the most likely ones are according to your judgement and experience. Assuming that you were a competant driver (which the legal system already certainly had done since you had been awarded a drivers licence), then the decision about what speed to drive is yours to make. Second guessing by a bent copper or judge about whether that speed or style of driving might have been appropriate or not (in the absence of any harm being caused to any other individual) is just another example of dishonest taxing. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the stated excuse of ensuring "safety". You were safe... so was everyone else.

    Glad you were acquitted. Shame the bent purjuring liar wasn't charged and dismissed from his job. Ones like him need to be punished as they are harmful in the extreme.


  7. You're right, KGM. And I didn't get my point over very well..(surprise!)

  8. PC

    I think that if you push a man far enough he'll eventually crack and do something emotive an strike back. That's what happened here. The guy got fed up. In the temper of the moment he acted rashly and the result is a death.

    On the other hand, the dead teenager was no good. Here was a guy who was well off the rails. He had been abandoned by his mother. His extended "family", sisters, brothers, cousins, aunties (who all say how much they "loved" and "cared" for him- sure they did) had no idea what he was up to or where he was spending his time (and/or those that did know couldn't care less and never acted to do anything much about it). He was intoxicated- full of piss, drugs, glue and bad manners. He went out vandalising other people's property. He is as responsible for his fate as the other guy- probably more so.

    A conviction is in order but not a custodial sentance. Certainly there should be careful consideration about how it is that in this time of advanced social welfare systems there are so many "youth gone wrong" and so much crime. Why hasn't social welfare and all the demands of the progressives these last 70 years failed to work?



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