Published 10 June 2009
The Supreme Court has refused Shane Wenzel’s appeal against a district court decision that his trial on 36 dishonesty charges should be before a judge alone, not a jury.
The Supreme Court bench of Judges Peter Blanchard, Andrew Tipping & John McGrath ruled yesterday: “The district court judge’s order involved an exercise of discretion which the Court of Appeal has reviewed & confirmed.
“Section 361D of the Crimes Act empowers an order to be made for trial before a judge without a jury in long & complex cases. But the judge must be satisfied (under subclause 3b) that an accused person’s right to a trial by jury is outweighed by the particular circumstances, including the length & complexity of the trial, such that jurors will not be able to perform their duties effectively.”
Mr Wenzel – who has gone under the name Tane Rakau since last year – asked for a declaration that section 361D was incompatible with section 24E of the Bill of Rights and asserted it was incompatible with the guaranteed right to a fair trial.
“Put in this way, the proposed grounds of appeal are quite hopeless,” the Supreme Court found. “First of all, it is an impossible argument that a fair trial requires a trial by jury. On the alternative argument, that no removal at all of a jury trial by Parliament could be justified under section 5 of the Bill of Rights Act, the applicant has not put forward any cogent reasoning.”
Mr Wenzel was bankrupted in 2001, hasn’t been released from bankruptcy and has been fighting charges of acting as a director while bankrupt, among other allegations by officialdom. He has been closely involved in the affairs of companies established by Robyn Case, who was bankrupt from October 2001-04, was director of Case Boreham Associates Ltd (in liquidation) & a string of other companies and has been banned from company management from 1 June 2007 until 1 April 2011.
My first experience of Mr Wenzel under his new name (I wrote it then as Tane Rako) was in June 2008, when he burst into the courtroom moments after a company he purported to represent, Mobile Property Sales Ltd (renamed ABC Inc Ltd the previous day) had been wound up. He said he represented a hapu, the company had been incorporated under the Tangata Whenua Act, that he wanted the order recalled and sought a stay of the application. When that didn’t succeed and the judge refused to allow him to file documents in court, Mr Wenzel said: “Under orders, we are ordering you as treaty partner to make these orders under the Waitangi Tribunal and a declaration of hapu and it’s treasonness not to honour us as hapu. This is our beneficiary (benefactor)….”
The liquidators of Mobile Property Sales, Iain Shephard & Christine Dunphy (Shephard Dunphy Ltd, Wellington), said in their final report, in March, the company had traded as a licensed real estate agency until the Real Estate Institute revoked its licence. The liquidators said the director & his agent had been very unhelpful & evasive, and wrote that they would recommend to the national enforcement unit of the Ministry of Economic Development that it investigate the conduct of the director & Mr Wenzel.
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Attribution: Court judgment, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.