Hinch Says

A Victim’s Question

Courts v justice Photo Courtesy of: Google

NEWS FROM ACROSS THE ditch.  The controversy over name suppression  for convicted sex offenders is as hot here as it is at home.

Several brave New Zealand women have gone to court recently for permission to have suppression orders on their own names lifted so they can go public to attack and overturn the anonymity orders on their abusers.

Last night, on the program Sunday (the Kiwi equivalent of our Sunday Night), a  woman named Louise Hemsley outlined her ordeal at the hands of a famous New Zealander who managed to have a guilty plea overturned, no conviction recorded and his name suppressed for eternity.  (The Great Gatsby was right).

I had planned to write about the man today but realised if I did and posted it from here I’d be breaking the law.

(Been to jail in hometown New Plymouth as a callow youth, as an assignment for the Taranaki Herald, but am not keen to do it again).

I’ll blog about it for my Australian readers tomorrow, after I get safely home.

trampled and trammelled

The issue of naming convicted offenders has taken a twist that, frankly, I hadn’t considered but is of vital importance to victims and their families. Especially young children.

They suffer enough. And their rights are trampled and trammelled along the way.

One victim stumped me this week and I’m hoping some lawyer reader can give us some answers. The simple question is this:

How can a mother change her children’s names without her convicted ex-husband’s permission?

In many cases, the need for a name change gains urgency as the convicted offender nears release.  In this case the mother fears for the family’s physical safety.

end of the tunnel

Her email plea for help says in part:

‘I have just managed to get a jail sentence against my ex-husband who also, like so many, was violent and sexually assaulting myself. My eldest son is currently seeing a physiologist due to what the bastard did to him as well. I am hopefully seeing the end of the tunnel with court matters. It's been going on for two years. He left us with absolutely nothing and left me bankrupt -- another trait of an abuser.

‘My question is this: Do you know of a way I can change the boys’ last names without the father knowing? Our lovely court system over here in WA is pathetic. I have tried everything to try to find a way so that the father won't know about their name changes but alas the courts have said there is still a 50% chance that he would find out.

‘When this guy gets out he will try and track us down and try and kill us. He tried to do this when we left him.  Our system is disgusting in Western Australia and Australia in general. The laws need to change.

‘Thanks Mr Hinch... for listening if nothing else...’

Anybody know the answer?  Surely, if there are fears for the children’s safety, there must be a way to protect them.

Footnote:  And a typically common postscript to all this.  A side effect that seems inexplicable but true. The mother writes: ‘My own family have disowned me and they all blame me for all that has happened. It's taken a year for my father to start talking to me again but it will never be the same…




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