A mother who kept her son’s whereabouts from police 18 months ago during a kidnapping investigation has been sentenced to 120 hours’ community work.
Susanne Veint, 51, of Glenorchy, was charged with being an accessory after the fact of kidnapping, relating to an incident in Queenstown on November 25 or 26, 2014, in which her son, Joshua was involved.
The 24-year-old was sentenced last month to two years’ imprisonment for his role in the incident.
In the Queenstown District Court yesterday, defence counsel Nic Soper said his mother was the last of those charged in relation to the incident, to be dealt with.
Two other women charged as accessories after the fact had both since had charges dropped. Amanda Jane Nicolls, 45, was discharged during last month’s jury trial for the principal offenders in Invercargill, while a charge against Ashleigh Jane McMillan, 24, had earlier been withdrawn.
Soper says it’s the end of a “very long, drawn out, angst-filled period” for Veint.
“In late November 2014, Mrs Veint, in Glenorchy … was contacted by her son, Joshua, who said ‘I’m in trouble, Mum’.
“He requested she travel to Queenstown.
“He was in a distressed and dishevelled state.
“[He] said he’d been involved in an incident, his life was in danger, someone … was trying to kill him and that he needed her help.
“The following day the defendant drove her son to a remote hut near Kinloch and provided him with food and other provisions.”
Soper says police visited the defendant on December 1 and requested information from her regarding her son’s whereabouts.
“At that point she told the police she did not know where her son was.
Soper questioned whether a mother could find herself in a “more invidious position than this?”.
While “without wishing to resort to melodrama”, he quoted Agatha Christie’s description of a mother’s love and said Veint had responded to a “desperate cry for help” from her son.
Veint didn’t believe police would be able to protect her son and, had he been acquitted of the kidnapping charge, the charge against her would have been withdrawn.
“She genuinely believed … he was not responsible for any of the actions that led to the kidnapping charge.
“It transpires she was wrong about that.”
Soper submitted a deferred sentence would be the most appropriate penalty, believing deterrence was not required.
However, if Judge Christina Cook saw differently he sought for any sentence imposed to be “lenient and merciful”.
Cook says she needed to hold Veint accountable and acknowledge the harm done.
She accepted the defence submissions in part but said the appropriate course of action would have been to advise police of the situation.
Veint was assessed as being at low risk of reoffending and at low risk of harm to others.
Otago Daily Times