Jail time cancelled for career criminal

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A Queenstown career criminal’s convictions have been quashed because a local District Court judge hiked his suggested sentence. 

The Court of Appeal last week cancelled a 30-month jail sentence dished out in January, 2012, to Derek John Taylor, sending the case back to the District Court for a re-hearing. 

Three Appeal Court judges found Taylor, 42, was hard done by when sentenced in Queenstown by Judge Michael Turner. 

Taylor had told his lawyer to test out Judge Turner on sentencing, saying if it was less than 15 months jail he’d plead guilty. 

The local judge told Taylor’s lawyer to expect:
– A starting point of 12 months 
– Plus a “significant uplift” for Taylor’s 21 previous burglary convictions and 213 other dishonesty offences 
– Less a 25 per cent overall reduction for an early guilty plea. 

On that basis, Taylor put his hand up to all four charges – despite believing one should have been the lesser charge of theft rather than burglary. When it came to sentencing, however, Judge Turner cited Taylor’s previous offending and the fact he’d only just been released from custody and was on parole. 

Taylor got 30 months in the nick – twice the jail time he’d been prepared to plead guilty for. 

Tossing out Taylor’s sentence, the Appeal Court says “the risk of injustice is inescapable”. 

“What is in issue is the integrity of the sentence indication system.” 

The Appeal Court found Turner shouldn’t have imposed the longer sentence without giving Taylor a chance to reconsider his plea. 

“Where there is a significant disparity between indication and final sentence, and where the [guilty] plea has flowed from the indication, the accused must be offered the opportunity to withdraw his or her plea,” the Appeal Court says. 

The three appeal judges express “considerable sympathy” for lower court judge Turner, who they say had the indication request bounced on him during a busy Queenstown court day. 

Quashing all four charges, the appeal judgment says Taylor’s re-hearing should be as soon as possible. 

Hungry for something 

A Queenstown woman called the cops after she was allegedly grabbed by a man wanting food early yesterday. 

Senior sergeant John Fookes says she was approached by an unknown man at 12.15am on Robins Road. 

“He asked for food, told her not to be scared and then started pulling on her arm,” Fookes says. 

“Whether it was a drunk being foolish or something more sinister, I don’t know.” 

The man, deterred by a group walking along Hamilton Rd, hasn’t been located. 

“We’d be happy to hear from people who’ve had similar experiences, but we are not aware of any,” Fookes adds. 

Nowhere to run 

Two Arrowtowners who did a runner from a taxi without paying have handed themselves in after being splashed on Queenstown police’s Facebook page. 

The 23-year-old man and 20-year-old woman paid the fare and a $150 infringement fine on Monday. Dozens of comments were posted under the image uploaded from the taxi’s camera. 

Rejected Romeo lashes out 

A stranger hit a woman and her friend after she rejected his advances outside a Queenstown pub. 

The woman contacted police after the unknown man lashed out outside the Pig & Whistle at 3.30am on Sunday. 

He ran off and has not been caught. Enquiries are continuing.