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A District Court judge has awarded substantial costs to three Queenstown women discharged for their roles in a kidnapping case.
Judge Phil Moran has ordered the Crown pay Charlotte Dickson and Brooke Carpenter half of defence costs - with Dickson awarded $30,000 and Carpenter $15,000. The third woman, Rachel Faul, gets $20,000, a third of her bill.
Judge Moran strongly criticised the Crown's conduct against the women in the case relating to the kidnapping and beating of Jason Scott Maynard on Crown Range Rd in November 2011.
Four men were sentenced to jail, home detention or community work for it. Faul, Dickson and Carpenter were charged with intent to commit theft violently, rendering Maynard incapable of resistance.
Faul and Carpenter also faced kidnap charges. The judge notes he discharged all three on charges of theft by violent means and Carpenter of kidnapping.
At a trial, a jury acquitted Faul of kidnapping.
Judge Moran notes the Crown ''endeavoured to recover something from the wreckage of its case by seeking leave to amend the indictment by adding a charge of assault against the three defendants in place of the scuppered [theft by violent means charge]''.
That application was refused last April by Judge B. P. Callaghan, Judge Moran says, adding: ''Indeed, it'd appear he regarded the Crown's conduct as an abuse of process. I certainly do.''
As ''secondary parties'' to a criminal enterprise, the three women all deserved to be charged, Judge Moran says. How-ever, he says they were not ''appropriately'' charged.
Theft by violent means charges were, he says, misconceived ''because the essential element of intent to commit the crime of theft could never be established''.
Judge Moran added they were also excessive because they carried a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment.
''The Crown pursued this fatally flawed charge with dogged determination in the face of compelling arguments by all defence counsel it couldn't succeed.''
The Crown's ''last ditch attempt to retrieve something'' by amending the charge was ''abuse of process''.
''Consequently, the legal costs incurred by the defendants were much greater than would have been the case had they been appropriately charged in the first place.''
The judge explained Faul's central role meant the costs he awarded her are less in percentage terms than for Dickson and Carpenter.
However, he adds: ''All of them, to a degree, brought the prosecution upon themselves, none more so than Ms Faul, who set up the rendezvous with Mr Maynard.''