Thursday, 26 March 2009

Shop owner cleared . . . but to police he’s still a criminal

My congratulations this morning to stabbed shop owner Virender Singh, who fought back against intruders into his shop only to have to fight back against police who charged him for having the temerity to defend himself.

Just as they did when Greg Carvell defended himself and the occupants of his family’s gun shop.

Just as they did when Paul McIntyre defended his property and his family.

Just as they did when Michael Vaimauga was arrested for assault after he stopped a burglar breaking into a shop.

And just as they would have if the late Navtej Singh had managed to fight back successfully against the armed intruders into his bottle store.

As an Avondale dairy owner said when a colleague was stabbed in the neck and back by a robber, “When we protect ourselves, we get charged - and if we don’t we get stabbed. What do we do?”

So my congratulations to Mr Singh not just for being cleared in a depositions hearing at the Manukau District Court, but for having the gumption to defend himself and his young nephew when the police have already made it perfectly clear they view anyone who does as a criminal .

Make no mistake, Virender Singh’s exculpation yesterday by Manukau JPs was not a ringing declaration of your right to self defence – despite the Crimes Act allowing it, and basic human rights demanding it. No, his case was not dismissed based his right to self defence, but only because there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

And it was backed up by hand wringing Retailers Association president John Albertson who simpered “he would be concerned if retailers started arming themselves” – which is to say, he’d be happier if it were only their robbers who were armed – and from Singh’s own lawyer who said that this was “not a licence for shop owners to take unwarranted retribution in the course of their business” – indicating that even he has no conception of the fundamental distinction between one who initiates force, and one who defends against it.

So what do you think about his chances of an apology from the police?


  1. The private citizens who defended themselves only injured their assailants and they get prosecuted. The Police have in recent years shot and killed a number of assailants and they have not been prosecuted and in fact have received counselling to help them get over the trauma of having killed someone.

    However it is unfair to blame the Police, their job is to gather the evidence and present it at Court. The decision to prosecute is made by the Crown prosecutors (I understand that is the name, a Government agency) whose policy is heavily influenced by the Government, particularly the previous Labour government.

  2. As you say, Mark, the police (rightly) demand the right to defend themselves -- but object to this same right being recognised for the rest of us.

    It is not unfair however to blame the police for his situation: as Ray Carvell pointed out about his son's prosecution, the police went out of their way to persecute him at every turn.

    The decision to prosecute is made by Crown Prosecutors, for sure, but the policy to persecute comes directly from the police themselves.

  3. So are the NZ Police supposed to be policy enforcement officers or peace officers? Are they there to enforce policy or defend individuals against initiations of force?

  4. Anonymous: an excellent point and one that I suspected had gone to sleep.

    The difference between "officers of the Peace" as the police were once considered and "Law Enforcement" officers to which they are now referred, is significant.

    I believe this shift (in the western world anyway) was initially effected in the US. Or do I have that wrong?

  5. On "Breakfast" this morning they were saying that it was not up to NZ Citizens to "Take the law in to their own hands".
    I thought it was OUR law, not the police's law. Is there an offence in statute for "taking the law in to your own hands"?
    I also thought that the Police had no great powers than a citizen.

  6. Superb Article and Cartoon on this subject, HERE: Ross Clark, "Spectator", UK;

    "Labour's Punishment Freaks Are Hounding Honest Citizens"

    Pommieland is just a few years ahead of NZ.

  7. That lawyer said: "The decision should not be taken as a licence for shop owners to take unwarranted retribution. If anybody read that sort of precedent into this they would be making a big, big mistake. The first thing you do is phone the police if you can. The second thing you do is you run away if you can."

    Wooot! I am being robbed and I am told I need to run away! Sigh, why does that not surprise me.

  8. Sean Fitzpatrick27 Mar 2009, 16:34:00

    The cliche about 'not taking the law into your own hands' obscures the real issue - when faced with violence one has to take one's LIFE into ones own hands.

    Apparently Simon Power is concerned about the situation with people getting charged in self defence cases and wants it looked into - we shall see.

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