Does New Zealand’s legal system favour some ahead of the rest of us?
2014 Junior World Cup promising rugby star Tevita Li (19) was caught drink-driving in Auckland last May. Last week the Blues-contracted player was discharged without conviction by Judge Gus Andree Wiltens as long as he paid $210, the costs to establish his blood alcohol level. Judge Wiltens took into account that Li completed The Right Track programme and alcohol counselling, and justified his decision because, “A conviction would prove to be a real impediment to what so far has been a stellar career. All indications are that you can go a long way in rugby.”
A conviction possibly would restrict Li’s international rugby travel, and if he pursued a career overseas, teams may overlook him because of that black mark against his name. After his rugby days a clean record would keep the door open for his intention to follow his father into a police career. Another Blues player, George Moala, recently found guilty of assault with intent to injure, appears for sentencing in May, and will apply for a discharge without conviction. Try telling an ordinary 19 year old club rugby player that’d be a fair deal.
Recently I commented on former Olympic triathlete Kris Gemmell. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Gemmell a 15 month ban after Drug-Free Sport NZ had appealed the NZ Sports Tribunal’s decision not to impose a sanction on him for missing a drug test in August, 2012. Last week the Tribunal cut his ban to 12 months stating his conduct would not be a violation under the new rules confirmed January 2015. Gemmell, basically vindicated, lost his International Triathlons Unions athletes’ committee role plus his position as its Global Head of Partnerships for the world triathlon series. He retired from international competition after the World Cup in 2012 but remained on the drug testing programme because he intended to involve himself in long distance racing.
Who had the self-righteous knife out at Drug-Free Sport NZ? Another graceless Tall Poppy blitz.
The Cricket World Cup kicks off next week amidst concerns for security during the tournament. If visitors seek easy access to NZ over the tournament period, visa-free entry is permitted provided an individual’s cricket interest is proved with, say, game tickets. This visa-free entry is primarily to allow ease of movement for cricket fans between NZ and Australia. Many “cricket supporters” from countries for which visas are usually required to enter NZ, have apparently used the “loophole” for easy entry. By last week 94 people had travelled here under the arrangement and others were prevented from boarding flights to NZ. Several Chinese passengers emphasised their intention to attend games and produced Cricket World Cup tickets as evidence but, ironically, those games were scheduled after their NZ departure dates.
And what a temptation to anyone “terroristically” inclined.
Note: this version differs from that published in The North Otago Times.