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Case to go back to court for 17th time

Friday September 08, 2017 Written by Published in Crime

A woman who appeared in court yesterday on the same charge for the 16th time in two years, was told her criminal case was not over, and that she must return to court yet again later this month. 

Maryanne Patricia Miller is facing a charge of intent to defraud and multiple charges of theft, offences dating back to 2015. 

She was represented at her latest appearance by defence lawyer Mark Short, who, on August 24 asked the court to consider a dismissal for want of prosecution.

Yesterday the court heard Crown submissions opposing the application for a dismissal.

Crown prosecutor Alex Herman said the Criminal Procedures Act provided the court with the ability to dismiss a charge for want of prosecution. However this was only awarded in specific situations.

“Sections 55, 57 and 58 are sections within the Criminal Procedures Act that offer insight into the grounds or prerequisites for a dismissal. 

“Section 55 offers the court to dismiss for want of prosecution when the informant does not appear – that is the prosecution. 

“Or under section 57, they may dismiss when either party; the informant or the defendant does not appear.  

“Now this is not a situation within the present case, as both prosecution and the defendant are here. 

Therefore, we submit that this case cannot be dismissed for want of prosecution because it is not within the specific divisions that our Criminal Procedure Act highlights. 

“As such the Crown opposes the application and submits that this matter should be scheduled for a hearing,” Herman said.

Defence lawyer Mark Short said it was no surprise that Crown Law had chosen to make submissions objecting to the application for the matter to be dismissed. 

“It just seems like it has been dragging on and on. 

“A date for a trial had been set for December last year, and we are still here. 

“We cannot allow for something like this to continue. You can’t drag the defendant into the court, time and time again like this. 

“It just appears that Crown Law is trying to build a case. It’s like they are saying, ‘It’s alright, keep coming to court – but we need more time so we can dig more dirt on your client so we can try to proceed with more charges’. You just can’t do that,” a stern Short said.

“I think a message needs to be sent to prosecution, both to police and Crown Law, that they can’t continue to be relaxed in their approach to dealing with matters like this. Especially when you have a defendant who has a family, who depend on her.

“It is a small island, people know her; it is very embarrassing, it is very stressful. You can’t expect someone to have to keep coming before the courts for almost two years. 

 “She (Miller) has a family, her husband has a business, and they have children going to school. 

“This is just unreasonable.

“The constitutions is very clear, under Articles 65. It says you cannot deprive any person of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principals of fundamental justice. 

“I believe that everyone is entitled to be treated as it declares in the Rarotonga constitution. 

“You should not deprive anyone of the right to a fair trial, and two years – that’s just not fair. 

“I leave it to you your worship,” Short said. 

After a long pause and some deliberation, Justice of the Peace Bernice Manarangi told the defendant that Thursday’s appearance would not be her last. 

“The court acknowledges both submissions. However, because of the nature of the charges, all matters are adjourned to September 28 for a call over and a date is to be set for a trial before three JPs or a judge,” Manarangi said.