New Zealand Police v MI [2019] NZYC 205

Published 15 November 2019

Application to dismiss charge — unnecessarily or unduly protracted delay — aggravated robbery — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 4, 5, 247, 282 & 322 — Criminal Disclosure Act 2008, s 13 — Attorney General v Youth Court at Manukau [2007] NZFLR 103 — R v Marshall [2004] 1 NZLR 793 — Police v RK [2017] NZYC 172. Counsel for the young person, MI, applied for a charge of aggravated robbery to be dismissed on the basis that the time elapsed between the date of the alleged offending and the date of the hearing had been unnecessarily or unduly protracted. It was alleged that MI, along with a group of other young people, surrounded the victim, punched her in the face and robbed her of her phone and credit cards. One of the credit cards was used soon after the attack. MI admitted three charges of using the stolen credit card but denied being a part of the initial aggravated robbery. She has since successfully completed a plan monitored by the Youth Court in respect of other charges and has been discharged pursuant to s 282. A year and three months had passed since the alleged offending and a hearing was not scheduled to occur until June 2019. Section 322 of the Oranga Tamariki Act provides that a Youth Court Judge may dismiss any information charging a young person with the commission of an offence if it can be shown that the time elapsed between the date of the alleged offending and the hearing has been unnecessarily or unduly protracted. When determining whether delay has been unnecessarily or unduly protracted the Judge must take the following factors into consideration: the length of the delay, waiver of time periods, the reasons for the delay (including time requirements of the case, actions of the accused, actions of the prosecution and limits of institutional resources), other reasons for delays and prejudice to the accused. The delay between the offence and the hearing was a year and half. A large portion of the delay was due to difficulty in collecting CCTV and witness evidence. The hearing was also pushed back several times (by months at a time) due to a lack of judicial resources in the Manukau Youth Court. The young person had been prejudiced by the delay and had been subject to restrictive bail conditions throughout. She was also now 17, meaning there was limited time for her to remain in the jurisdiction of the Youth Court. All of her other charges had been dealt with, she had not reoffended and she was attending a volunteering programme. The Judge acknowledged that the aggravated robbery was a serious charge and there is public interest in holding young people to account. However, this prosecution had reached the stage where any disposition was so far removed from the date of the alleged offending it would be difficult for the young person to relate the procedure and disposition to the actual offence. The charge was dismissed on account of the unnecessarily or unduly protracted delay. Judgment Date: 8 May 2019. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *