Two years on, five charges withdrawn

Thursday October 05, 2017 Written by Published in Local

A woman who faced six charges involving theft and intent to defraud, had five of the charges withdrawn when she appeared before Justice of the Peace Georgina Williams in the High Court last Friday.

 

Maryanne Patricia Miller will now face just one charge of intent to defraud, with the case adjourned until November 17. Miller will appear for a defended hearing before three Justices of the Peace.

The charges have been hanging over Miller since 2015. The matter has since been adjourned 17 times, leaving the mother and business woman in limbo for two years.

Represented at her latest High Court appearance by defence lawyer Mark Short, Miller was told the theft charges would be withdrawn under section 46 of the Criminal Procedures Act.

Crown Prosecutor Alison Mills also sought leave to amend the wording of the intent to defraud charge.

Short had previously sought a dismissal for want of prosecution, on the grounds that the matter had dragged on for over two years.

On September 7, when the case came before the High Court yet again, Short said it had been dragging “on and on”. 

“A date for a trial was 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 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 proceed with more charges’. 

“You just can’t do that.

“I think a message needs to be sent to prosecutions, 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.

“The Constitution is very clear. Under Article 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 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.”

Justice of the Peace Bernice Manarangi adjourned to September 28 for a call over.

As promised, the matters appeared in court last week on September 28, whereby the defendant heard that her two-year long case was not over.

Miller will appear in the Avarua High Court on November 15, before three Justice of the Peace for a defended hearing – in what would be her 17th appearance in court.

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