Police officers caught lying in court, given extra month to intimidate witnesses and destroy evidence

Police officers, all around the world often have a difficult job to do, sometimes dealing with low-lifes who would kill, rape and maim, without a second thought. Often though, stories get told about police brutality… giving rise to serious, sometimes permanent and crippling injuries, and in some cases leading to the deaths of unarmed and quite innocent people.

Recently a young woman had her leg broken in an incident at a train station where she was found to be without a valid ticket. On the surface that would seem to be “excessive force” used in the extreme. However even more distressing is that this incident has brought to light that it is, apparently, official NSW Police Force practice, to lie in their submissions to court. Note the short quote from the following article. (Note this isn’t some kooky website for UFO buffs, the Sydney Morning Herald is the main daily newspaper from New South Wales state in Australia. The SMH is part of the Fairfax publishing empire).

(Quote Begins) “Police initially denied the kick occurred but sought to amend their defence in the Sydney District Court on Monday, minutes before the beginning of a five-day trial, after Ms Gardner’s legal team revealed they had obtained CCTV footage from Cronulla station.
On Tuesday, Judge Sharron Norton lambasted the force’s barrister Matthew Hutchings for presenting an “entirely different” defence document on the morning of the trial but she allowed it and deferred the trial to November. “(Quote ends)

Quite why the judge gave the Police, more than one full month extra, before proceeding with the trial. I don’t know. This can’t be in the interests of justice. Another month for the police to “get their story straight” (ie to think up new lies, bribe or intimidate witnesses, destroy evidence etc). There may be some legal issue I don’t understand, but to me, it seems as if the judge is going soft on the police and giving them a free ride.

Yes defendants, whether they are police officers or ‘ordinary criminals’ can and do sometimes change their story just before, or during a trial. But why give the coppers a chance to go away for a month and fine tune their latest pack of lies. The trial was due to start that day, and it should have gone ahead. The 2 different defence documents should both be part of the official court record. It goes to showing the “character” of the defendant. The jury, or judge if sitting alone, can then consider how the defendant’s character may affect the veracity of their testimony.) ie, are they usually a truthful person, or are the a lying sack of shite).

Separately, I am very glad to say, that both in New Zealand and Australia, senior police officers have previously come out publically and said that they actually WANT the public to make video recordings when they see fights or illegal activities going on, including when police are involved. Compare this to the situation in many USA states where people videoing in public are often forced to stop recording by police, under threat of 16 years in jail under an obscure Federal “wire-tapping” law. This seems to indicate, that, in America at least, if the cops break your bones, Taser or shoot you to death, they DON’T want any video recordings of that coming to the light of public or judicial scrutiny.

(Side note, the figures from about 5 years ago, were about 3,000 people dead, after being Tasered. Coroners found the death to be a DIRECT result of being Tasered in about 300 cases. Sometimes people being Tasered have consumed large amounts of drugs and might well have died soon anyway)



America’s Cup, speedy super-yachts race onwards grindingly slowly

At about 9am this morning (Saturday 21 Sept 2013, New Zealand time) the NZ entry won the first race of the day. Needing just one more win to claim the entire competition and take the cup, Th Kiwis would then be the new holders of the America’s cup. However the race was declared null and void because a time limit had been exceeded (that time limit having been agreed to by competitors a year or more ago). Disheartening from a New Zealander’s perspective as our team finished the race well, well ahead of the United States team’s yacht. In the second race the Americans prevailed, after the Kiwis incurred a penalty.

Hey who else thinks that, with the “win at all costs” attitude that some American sportspeople have, every day longer that this competition goes on, gives the extremists out there, another opportunity to torch or crash into NZ’s yacht, and win the competition that way. They have recently come out with a new statement that if NZ wins by a margin of 2 points or less, they’ll appeal the 2-point penalty they got for cheating last time.

Some years ago there was a Cup victory the Americans only got after racing an entirely different boat to their competitor, and then followed that up by dragging it through every court in the land to justify it (winning the court cases 2:1, and therefore winning the cup that time).

Remember not much more than 25 years ago, the French government, as an official government action, shit all over the Swiss government and committed an act or war and terrorism on NZ, the only act of real terrorism NZ has ever experienced, when they sent teams of agents and saboteurs to blow up a ship in Auckland Harbour, just because they thought it might take a few photos that might embarrass them.

Look at the stakes in San Francisco now. I’m astonished that the NZ boat hasn’t gone up in flames one night, or been written off in a yacht crash already. Like in the movie “The Karate Kid” (1984). When a team member is told to “sweep” the guy’s leg. Yes he’ll be penalised, but then the bad-guy’s fellow team-member can have a crack at the, now severely crippled, competitor.

Remember that after September 11, (2001) people were told that it was simply ‘unforeseeable’ that un-armed hijackers would voluntarily be given control of a plane by pilots (acting under the airline policy that if someone stands outside the cockpit door, with a packet of Milk-Arrowroot biscuits and a really bad attitude, and demands you let them in and give them control of the aeroplane) then flying that airliner into a large building as a flying-bomb:

Planes as flying bombs featured in Tom Clancy’s bestselling 1994 novel ‘Debt of Honor’, as an onscreen background scene in the 1980 film ‘Airplane’ (aka Flying High’ in some markets), and in the primetime tv series ‘The Lone Gunmen’ (aired March through to May 2001).

I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories, but it’s weird how no-one that worked for the CIA or NSA or FBI had ever read Clancy’s book, seen the movie or tv series, eh ?

Sentences announced for murdering Oxford farm worker

Guilty verdicts on all charges were delivered back in July in the case of murdered Oxford farmworker, Sameera Battelage.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Sameera had been working on a dairy-farm, in the Oxford farming district just outside Christchurch, when he was killed in the early hours of the morning, of Thursday 23 February 2012.

Charged with several offences related to his death, and including the arson of the rented farmhouse in which he lived, were Thuvan Prawesh Sawal and Viraj Alahakoon.

Mr Alahakoon was also facing two other charges relating to assaulting a woman and a second assault by cutting her hair, dating from December 2011. (The woman has name suppression).

Friday 6 September 2013 the chickens came home to roost, as in the High Court in Christchurch, Justice Christian Whata pronounced sentence on the two men.

Before he did so, were the Victim Impact Statements. The usual practice is that these are provided in written form, to the judge in advance. Later, in open court, people may read aloud their statement, or have someone read it on their behalf.

VIS had been provided earlier by the dead man’s Sri Lankan parents. These were not read out in court, although some copies were later made available for the media to view while in the court-room.

Reading his statement in a clear voice, which was breaking with emotion by the end, Mr Chris Reilly gave a thorough account of what effect Samera Battelage’s murder had had on him, his family and business. Chris Reilly is the owner of Oxford Pastures, a family dairy farm that had been running in excess of 1,000 cows.

Mr Reilly explained that Sameera wasn’t just a “farm worker” he was indeed the herd manager and “2.I.C.” (the second-in-charge).

With the sudden loss of a key staff member, and no opportunity to obtain a suitably skilled replacement quickly enough, Mr Reilly had little choice but to reduce his herd numbers and to put the cows he did keep onto a less labour intensive once-a-day milking regime. It was “milk production suicide” he said. “Business was severely fractured”.

Mr Reilly was fortunate not to have been injured or killed himself. Although the house Sameera was living in was several hundred metres away from the main farmhouse, he was awoken by a neighbour and alerted to the fire about 4am on the morning of Thursday 23 February 2012.

Making his way to the house, he noticed Sameera’s workboots outside the door. He knew that meant that Sameera was therefore NOT out tending to the cows, and he therefore must be trapped inside the house.

Despite his efforts to enter the burning house, which could only be described as ‘heroic’, the house was by this time, well ablaze, and the smoke and heat were just too intense. Mr Reilly was forced to stand at a distance and could only watch on helplessly.

“The following day was very traumatic” he said. “We were in shock”.

Later (after the fire brigade and police investigation team had gone) he had the unpleasant task of going through the burnt-out house. “Sifting through a dead man’s things, horrible” he said. However he wanted to be sure that any personal effects that were salvagable were saved and sent on to Sameera’s brother, Nilantha, who lives elsewhere in Canterbury. Later he also made sure that all outstanding wages were paid in full to Nilantha.

Initially, Mr Reilly wondered if, as the farm owners who had been providing the house to Sameera, perhaps they had been somehow to blame for his death ? Was it caused by an electrical fault ? Initially (until the facts of the situation came out) the insurance investigated whether Mr Reilly had committed arson on his own property.

Now just to be clear. The house Sameera was renting was no old dilapidated half-rotted wooden cottage.

(Sometimes when driving down country roads, the remains of old farmhouses can be seen, places so derelict that even the rats have moved out. Sometimes farmworkers are accommodated in premises, perhaps not quite that bad, but very “rustic” to say the least.)

However the house rented by Sameera, from his employer, was a brand new house in 2008, and could only be described as being in almost “as new” in condition.

Further, the Reilly’s had ensured that it was well equipped with furniture and all the stuff you need for a home, they had provided many of the things one needs, like kitchen-ware and linen etc.

Typically insurance would not only pay the cost of re-building a burnt house, but also the cost of demolition of the remains of the old one and site clean-up.

After the police and fire investigation was completed though, the Reilly’s wanted it cleaned up as soon as possible. The burnt remains of the house was an ugly scar on the landscape, visible from the nearby roads used by locals and the school-bus. It was a sad reminder to them, whenever they saw it. They paid with their own money, so that demolition and clearing up the site could happen sooner rather than later.

Mr Reilly then described (showing great compassion and respect, I thought) how he sought to understand more about how the site should be treated, in order to respect Sameera’s Buddhist faith.

When the time came later to rebuild, he rebuilt a smaller house a little to one side, ensuring that at no point did it cover the same “footprint” as the original house. Although building insurance paid for the majority of the costs of the rebuild, this meant that substantial extra costs were incurred in the re-build connecting up to services and the like, that were not covered by insurance.

Of his worker, who was also undoubtedly a friend, Chris Reilly said “Sameera was a gentle and kind person, always smiling… children liked him”.

The Reillys arranged a memorial service for Sameera. It “felt like a rug being pulled out from under our feet” he said.

Giving his thoughts on the 2 men convicted of Sameera’s murder (Thuvan Prawesh Sawal and Viraj Alahakoon), Mr Reilly said “They did not create, they destroyed, they did not respect life and property”.

They had “cast a shadow over our lives forever”, the “smell of smoke coming out of the house… the sight of Sammy’s burnt remains, will be with us forever”.

“They have turned our farm into a cemetery. The MANA of our farm will always be tarnished”. (Explanation for non-New Zealanders. Some Maori words have been incorporated into everyday NZ-English. “Mana” has several meanings including ‘honour’.)

Mr Reilly detailed all the costs which his family farm business had incurred as a result of Sameera’s murder. Judge Whata suppressed the exact figures, suffice to say that the Reilly family farm business have had unrecovered costs which are “very substantial”.

Nilantha Chandrasena, the brother of the murder victim, lives elsewhere in the Canterbury region outside Christchurch city and is also a farmworker. He had supplied a Victim Impact Statement in writing, and it was read out on his behalf.

Referring to his younger brother by the nickname “Rassy” he said he “was 5 years younger than me, we were very close”.

“He was the only good friend I had, in New Zealand or Sri Lanka”.

“It would have been good for my future” (Sameera being alive) “but it is all gone now”.

“It feels very lonely being here without Rassy”.

“It always feels like something is missing”.

“We are still suffering and will continue to do so for some time”.

Nilantha’s statement explained how under Sri Lankan custom, funerals are normally, what we in the West call, an “open coffin’. However due to the extensive injuries to Sameera’s throat and burning to his body, the coffin had to remain sealed, with a just a photo of Sameera alongside.

Nilantha spelled out how he was only a worker of modest means, who along with Sameera had sent back money to help his aging parents in Sri Lanka. Nilantha and Sameera were the only children his parents had. In the aftermath of Sameera’s death, Nilantha had had to leave the dairy farm where he had been working and was unemployed for awhile before finding work in another area of agriculture.

He spelled out his costs in full, which for a young immigrant worker in his situation, were considerable. The judge ordered the exact figures to be suppressed. (Fair enough, I’d say).

The Crown, represented by lead prosecutor, Brent Stanaway then got to have their say, suggesting what sentence they thought appropriate and detailing their reasons why.

There was some legal argument about whether section 103 or 104 of the criminal code applied. Basically whether this was one of the “better” murders or one of the “worse”.

The arson, committed after the murder, in a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence and hinder police investigation, was “a substantial aggravating factor” he said.

Counsel for the 2 men, QC Pip Hall and John Brandts-Giesen both spoke for a little over 10 minutes each, on behalf of their clients.

Mr Brandts-Giesen was trying to make the point that arson of a remote farmhouse didn’t create an undue hazard, as even volunteer fire brigades in country areas can handle a single-story house-fire, and it wasn’t likely that anyone else would be hurt.

It was at this point that a loud startled gasp of utter disbelief at hearing such nonsense, came from the public gallery.

(I can’t be sure but think it was from Mrs Odette Reilly. Remember it was her husband that attempted to enter the burning house, to try to rescue Sameera, not knowing he was already dead from stab-wounds).

Judge Christian Whata then got to have his say. Of Thuvan Prawesh Sawal and Viraj Alahakoon he said their “planning was unsophisticated and incompetent” but it was a “clearly calculated endeavour”.

“A planned endeavour for which both of you are equally culpable”.

“plainly neither of you are remorseful”.

Viraj Alahakoon was convicted but discharged (no extra jail time added) for the 2 assaults on the woman.

Both men were convicted of the arson, and sentenced to 7 years jail. However as that sentence runs concurrent with the murder sentence, no extra jail time will be served.

Thuvan Prawesh Sawal and Viraj Alahakoon were both sentenced to Life Imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Mr Sawal will almost certainly be deported immediately upon his release. (Prior to his arrest, he was an illegal overstayer). Remanded into custody this last year-and-a-half, he has reportedly become a member of The Mongrel Mob and been involved in many prison fights.

I am not sure about Mr Alahakoon. He already has NZ permanent residency, however I understand that after a conviction for murder, there is a process whereby that can sometimes be cancelled.

Before leaving the court, Judge Christian Whata reminded the media present about some aspects of the court case itself which remain suppressed, and that the actual dollar amounts detailed in the Victim Impact Statements are suppressed.

So closes this sad chapter in so many people’s lives.

I feel privileged in some ways to have followed this case through, from almost the beginning. But it has been a moving experience for me.

The murder of a young hard-working new-New Zealander, because of sexual jealousy, about a very short-lived relationship that he’d had, a time in the past… a senseless waste of a valuable worker’s life. Someone who was working hard to make New Zealand a better place, and helping to support his aging parents in a far away land.

Sri Lanka is a very poor country, with very little public support. Elderly relatives sometimes count on money sent to them from their children overseas. The 2 murderers made choices to act in despicable ways, and for the sake of petty jealousy have thrown away the amazing opportunities for advancement that New Zealand gave them, and their entire extended families back home in Sri Lanka. They have brought shame on their families and have dishonoured their own religion of Buddhism. A faith usually known for peacefulness, calm and tranquility.

Sameera Chandrasena Battelage.
Rest In Peace, surely you will be sorely missed by all who knew you and whose lives you touched.
Kia Kaha.

Another day, another rort… Sky City Casino Convention Centre deal

Most folks will recall that Sky City corporation has been eyeing up some neighbouring land. They wanted to buy it and the current owner, TVNZ, did not want to sell.

Previously TVNZ had said that Sky hadn’t even formally approached them or made any formal offers.

Now keeping in mind that land in central Auckland is, well it’s not just expensive, it’s almost priceless. It is THAT expensive.

One reason why TVNZ didn’t want to sell some of their land is the disruption would be mind bogglingly bad for their staff.

In today’s NZHerald online it is said that a sale is going to go ahead, here’s a short quote…

TVNZ has revealed plans for a makeover and refurbishment using cash from sale of land for the SkyCity Convention Centre, with staff in temporary accommodation for around two years.

SkyCity paid $10.6 million for 81-95 Hobson street which is around $2 million more than the ratings valuation for the land.

… to that I say, that TVNZ have just bent over a barrel and let SKY Corporation do them over them over like a kipper.

Look SKY wanted that land and they were determined to get it come hell or highwater. They absolutely HAD to have that land for their much vaunted “convention centre”. (Either that, or simply re-design it, to fit the land they had). Who knows, if TVNZ had refused to sell the land at ANY price, maybe they would have sent out hit-men to kill everyone at TVNZ then bought it at the estate sale after the mass funerals, if need be.

TVNZ are gutless wonders. What useless negotiators. With houses in Auckland often selling for double and sometimes triple their RV (ratings valuations).

The RV on the TVNZ land is about $ 8 million, so any half decent negotiator, knowing that SKY wanted that land SO very badly, (it’s basically a key part of their $ 500 million expansion plan) would have pushed for a far higher price than barely 20% above RV. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic. How much is that negotiator guy paid ? They’d be better off employing the tea-lady to do their property sales negotiations. I could have got them a better price than that.

I would’ve said “yeah mate, we might sell that bit of land to you, for somewhere between $50 and $100 million”. Thankyouverymuch, nice fat profit in the back pocket for TVNZ.

It’s called private enterprise and private land ownership mate. If I own something, and you want, and you want it REAL bad. You have to pay WHATEVER price I ask.

Now it seems, TVNZ’s hardworking staff will have to spend 2 years, maybe more, in temporary and very much second rate premises as the refurbishments and modifications to their existing buildings takes place.

I reckon another $40 million to $90 million would have made that bitter pill a lot easier to swallow. Would have given TVNZ a big pile of cash for some upgrades and a few goodies for their staff.

An aerial view, associated with the NZHerald article, indicates that TVNZ will be giving up land and buildings that amount to more than a quarter of their original land area. I can only imagine the nightmare that poor TVNZ staff will have to put up with.

The Government has said as a concession that TVNZ will be allowed to pay the government coffers a reduced dividend this year. So this is effectively yet another taxpayer funded subsidy for the Sky City Casino. It really does show that National Party prime minister John Key is firmly in the back pocket of Sky Corporation and they’re only too happy to oblige him with a reach-around.

The Sky Casino has a reverse Midas touch. Everything they touch or have anything to do with turns to cow poop and spells disaster for New Zealand. For the sake of a relative handful of jobs, they are peddling misery and financial ruin for so many Aucklanders and mopping up government subsidies like a vacuum cleaner. The concessions the government has given Sky Casino for their expansion so far (that was totally prohibited by existing gambling laws) beggar belief, and here we go again, more taxpayer subsidies. Just so they can rip more New Zealanders off a bit more. Shame on you NZ government, shame !

UPDATED… A later article on the Stuff/Fairfax website gives some more details, not included in the earlier article. Just a couple of months ago TVNZ sold a neighbouring small land/building (93 Hobson Street) to SKY, and you guessed it, for barely 25% more than the RV. The later article also details how TVNZ will be needing to rent office space elsewhere for 2 years for upto 500 staff. YEP, a bad deal all around for sure. TVNZ you got done over well and truly.

Here below is a link to the article on NZHerald’s website.


Just how incompetent, are the world’s highest paid architects and city planners ?

A building called “20 Fenchurch”, has been blamed for damaging the plastic components of nearby parked cars, damaging paint on neighbouring buildings and setting afire to the carpet of one shop.

Still under construction, the 37 story building is nicknamed “Walky-Talky”.

Unlike most rectangular shaped city skyscrapers, this one has a gentle curve to it.

I have no doubt at all that a team of highly qualified architects oversaw ever aspect of it’s design, right down to the colour-scheme, carpetting and location of potplants.

I think we can also assume that this building meets all legal requirements of the building authorities in the London council area. I’m guessing it has passed all of the necessary approvals prior to building. Has all the consents, permissions and permits required by local authorities… for which I’m sure they charged many tens or hundreds of thousands of UK pounds in fees. (Clippin’ the ticket, at every stage).

So my question is this: How come NONE of those architects or city planning officers have even a lower high-school knowledge of general science ?

Are you honestly telling me that every one of the, what 30 or so people who drew up these plans, checked and then finally approved them, NONE of them knew that a curved reflective surface concentrates the sun’s heat, just like a magnifying glass ?

I always thought that to be a qualified architect you had to have a university degree or advanced degree, and that even city planners had to have polytechnic level qualifications.

But it almost seems as if, in London England at least, they’re employing architects and city planners, who haven’t even got a lower high-school education.

I would just LOVE to see, the permission for this new building to be withdrawn and for it to have to be demolished down to the ground and re-built. Then the architects and city planners might even have to accept slightly lower bonuses this year.

Actually there’s probably a very much cheaper fix. Simply make the windows on the sun-facing, one assumes Southern side, non-reflective.

There are almost certainly special non-reflective coatings (“Scotch-tint” style) that can be applied to the surface of the existing glazing. Possibly the building has been built with special highly-reflective glass to reduce the need for air-conditioning cooling in Summer. Replacing reflective glass with plain glass, then simply running the air-con a bit harder in the Summer, might end up making life a lot more bearable for those unfortunate enough to live, work, travel or park near this monstrosity.

Of course that will run up the electricity bill a bit. They might have to give back some of those eco-awards they’ve probably won for being so energy efficient and anti-greenhouse gas friendly.

The response from the London council responsible for this stuff-up, has been to place road traffic cones around to restrict people parking in the area. Umm, that’s like those third world countries which in the past have brought in curfews on women going out at night ‘to protect them from rape’. That way the victim pays the penalty and the perpetrator gets off scott-free.

This reminds me of the Shire Council’s brand new headquarters and administration building in York, Western Australia (early 1990’s).

Located in a semi-arid region of hot dry “Mediterranean” climate, in the Avon Valley area of inland Western Australia. Summer temperatures often exceed 40* Celcius (104*F).

Designed by a highly paid team of leading architects, Built brand new to their specifications (and I’m sure the York Shire Council issued themselves with all the required building permits etc), it had a huge glass wall all down the western side of the building.

When I first visited the new building I thought “golly, that’s gonna let a lot of heat in, especially during the hottest part of the day, during the hottest part of the year. What woolly-wombat designed and authorised that ?”

I wasn’t at all surprised to hear, that during it’s first Summer, the council needed to spend substantial money upgrading the airconditioning system.

But hey, it doesn’t matter, they just bung all the extra costs, plus the extra costs of running a bigger air-con system, onto people’s house and farm council rates (= annual property taxes).

Here below is a link to an item on the London building.