The following is a summary of some of the restorative justice conferences I have faciltated. It outlines the conference outcomes and the sentence imposed.
1. Auckland Regional Council v Times Media Group Limited and Anthony Cook
(DC Auckland CRN 2084004885 and 889 16/06/03 - Judge McElrea)
This case involved fumes with an offensive odour and substantial health effects on neighbours from a printing plant. The conference outcome included a private and public apology, a payment to ARC for the testing of health factors, tree planting around the site, a donation to the local college for a native tree planting project, a new entrapment device (previously agreed to) within two months and payment of costs of the facilitator.
The court considered that some crucial elements of justice had already been fulfilled and fined Times Media Group Limited $5,000.00 and ordered it to pay $656.00 to the Council for investigation costs. It also fined the Director of the company $2,500.00.
2. Waikato Regional Council v Huntly Quarries and Wedding
(DC Auckland, CRN 2024011394 and 401, 28/10/03 - Judge McElrea)
This involved discharges of dirty water from a quarry into the Waikato River after heavy rain. The conference outcome included payment of costs of the facilitator and a donation to the Lower Waikato River Enhancement Society in lieu of a fine. The sentence imposed was a discharge without conviction for the Director. The company was fined on one charge of $5,000.00. On the other charge the company was convicted and ordered to come up for sentence if called on within six months; if the defendant made a contribution of $7,500.00 to the Lower Waikato River Enhancement Society in that time there would be no further action.
3. Waikato Regional Council v Matamata Piako District Council
(DC Morrinsville, CRN 04039500061 and 63, 26/11/04 & 6/05/05 - Judge Thompson)
This case involved discharges of sewage because of mishandled maintenance work. The steps taken by the defendant through the restorative justice process were an apology, payment of part of the costs of the Regional Council, payment of costs of the facilitator and a sum to a project involving remediation of septic tanks, the quantum of which could not be agreed in the conference but which was fixed by the court at $15.000.00. The defendant was convicted and discharged.
4. Waikato Regional Council v PIC New Zealand Limited
(DC Auckland, CRN 4057500082 and 79, 29/11/04 - Judge McElrea)
This case involved two charges for the discharge of pig effluent. The defendant paid clean up costs and put new systems in. As part of the restorative justice process it made an apology, paid $15,000.00 towards a tree planting project, paid the costs of the facilitator and all of the Council costs of approximately $24,500.00. At court it was convicted and discharged.
5. Waikato Regional Council v Hamilton City Council & Perry Environmental Limited
(DC Hamilton, CRN 4019500677 and 686, 1/03/05 - Judge Whiting)
This case involved the breach of consent condition which required that rubbish be covered at a landfill. The defendants agreed during the restorative justice conference to make an apology to the neighbours, to pay the costs of the facilitator and to undertake various steps to avoid the problem in the future including paying for fly screens for neighbours at a total cost of approximately $33.000.00.
At sentencing the Hamilton City Council was convicted and fined $4,700.00 and Perry Environmental Limited were convicted and fined $12,200.00.
6. Auckland City Council v L & L Company
(DC Auckland, CRN 04004502283, 11/04/05 - Judge McElrea)
This case involved the destruction of two exotic trees and cutting of another exotic tree. The steps taken by the defendant through the restorative justice process were an apology to the neighbour, payment of costs of the facilitator and $8,000.00 spent on landscaping the property as well as a $3,000.00 contribution to the local residents association for an environmental project. In sentencing the company director was discharged without conviction and the company was convicted and ordered to pay costs of $2,900.00.
7. Auckland City Council v GB Shaw and B&C Shaw Ltd
(DC Auckland, CRN 20050040131612, 2/03/06 - Judge Mc Elrea)
This case involved the felling of a protected pohutukawa tree by a developer for gain. At the conference it was agreed that the defendant would plant a new pohutukawa tree on the property, pay for an arborist to maintain it for 5 years under an enforcement order, make a donation of $20.000to the community for the purchase of 200 trees for planting in the neighbourhood and contribute to Council’s costs. At sentencing the recidivist defendant avoided 3 months imprisonment but was fined $80,000. The company was convicted and fined $25,000 to be paid if it did not pay the voluntary donation for tree planting.
8. Manukau City Council v Stanic
(DC Auckland, CRN 2004090005790, 10/07/06 - Judge McElrea.)
The charges related to undertaking motor vehicle repairs and wrecking on a property in contravention of rules of the district plan. At the conference it was agreed that the council would remove the car bodies with nominal costs to be paid by the defendant, an enforcement order would be sought from the court requiring the removal of further car bodies from the property, the defendant would ring his friends and advise that he was no longer conducting mechanical work on the property and a sign would be erected stating that the defendant was not permitted to fix vehicles at the property.
In sentencing it was noted by the judge that the holding of the conference may have been responsible for producing a change in attitude by the defendant. “Prior to that he had simply ignored the Council’s advice and carried on as before but when confronted with the reality of what his offending did to other people he cooperated.”
The defendant was sentenced to 150 hours community work which was stated to be a much reduced penalty had there not been the restorative justice conference and other mitigating factors.
9. ARC v PVL Proteins Limited
(DC Auckland, CRN 2006069001093, 13/08/07 - Judge McElrea)
This case related to discharges of contaminants, odour, dust or fumes from a meat rendering plant.
A restorative justice meeting was held but there was neither a guilty plea entered prior to the meeting nor an admission or acceptance of liability. It resulted in an agreement between the company and the ARC that they would work together to try and produce a solution to be notified to the residents and others who attended the restorative justice meeting. Although there was no restorative justice outcome for the court to take into account under section 8 of the Sentencing Act ,there was in the court’s view an offer of amends made through that that process which the court took into account under Section 10 of the Sentencing Act.
10. Manukau City Council v Claxton Tree Services Limited
(DC Auckland, CRN 2006092012322, 3/09/07 - Judge McElrea)
This case related to failure to obtain resource consents before pruning mature oak trees. It was an unusual case in that the property owners who were responsible for pruning were not before the court. It was agreed at the conference that the defendant would look at whether any remedial work was required to the trees and conduct that work at its cost, an apology was given and the costs of the conference were agreed be borne by it. At sentencing the defendant was discharged without conviction.
11. Auckland City Council v Treescape Ltd and Akarana Golf Course
(DC Auckland, CRN 07004502567, 14/6/08 - Judge Mc Elrea)
This involved the removal of trees beyond those covered by the resource consent by other parties against whom the prosecution was not pursued. It was agred at the conference in view of that circumstance and the remedial planting work undertakend by the defendants that the parties would all seek to have the charges withdrawn. This charges were withdrawn at the sentencing hearing.
12. Manukau City Council v Specialised Container Services (Auckland) Limited
(DC Auckland, CRN2008092005800, 16/02/09 - Judge Mc Elrea)
The defendant created a dust nuisance on a property used as a container storage depot. The conference was an opportunity for it to explain the steps it had taken to deal with the nuisance on this and another site and it agreed to take additional measures of ongoing consultation and the payment of compensation and Council costs. At sentencing the defendants approach was commended and it was given a 50 % discount from the fine and credit was also given for the costs of the conference.