The tragic shooting deaths of two Dunedin children
highlight the ''totally unfair'' situation sometimes facing
judges having to decide on protection order breaches without
full access to Australian criminal records.
That is the view of University of Otago Law Faculty dean Prof
Mark Henaghan, who also a family law specialist, after the
deaths of the two children, in Dunedin in January at the
hands of their father, Edward Livingstone.
Bradley (9) and Ellen (6) were killed at their mother's home
in Dunedin before Livingstone turned the gun on himself.
TVNZ reported last night Livingstone had previously been
convicted for arson in Sydney, after trying to burn down his
then-girlfriend's house 30 years ago when she broke up with
He also assaulted a flatmate during the same incident and
ripped the phone from his girlfriend's hands to prevent her
from calling police, TVNZ reported.
New Zealand judges were unaware of Livingstone's past
conviction and behaviour when he appeared before the courts
for twice breaching a protection order against his ex-wife,
Prof Henaghan told TVNZ there was a ''gap in the system'',
and said in an interview with the ODT yesterday it was
''totally unfair'' for New Zealand judges dealing
''incredibly difficult'' matters involving protection order
breaches when not all of the ''full story''- involving the
detailed Australian criminal history - of alleged offenders
People travelled freely between Australia and New Zealand,
and all serious conviction information, including at
Australian state level, should be shared by the relevant
transtasman police forces on a single shared and swiftly
accessible database, he said.
''There should be a system that makes it easier to check
these sorts of things out. At the moment, it's a big effort
for them [the police] to have to go and check it,'' he said.
Although Livingstone had not received a custodial sentence
over the Australian charges, he had been convicted of serious
offending which the New Zealand authorities - in this case
the prosecution and judiciary - were entitled to know about.
In the interests of dealing with future protection order
breaches, it was important for police on both sides of the
Tasman to have access to such data, with current privacy
safeguards in place, he said.
Justice Minister Judith Collins told TVNZ Livingstone's past
conviction showed ''an attitude about getting your own way
that would be very concerning''. However, knowledge of the
Australian conviction may not have made any difference.
''It's 30 years old,'' she told TVNZ.
''My understanding is that ... his convictions or conviction
would have been covered by the clean slate legislation.''
Three months before Livingstone shot his children, the
51-year-old was discharged without conviction for breaching a
protection order against his family for a second time.