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Singh Case Prompts Govt To Look At Self-Defence Laws

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Simon Power
Simon Power

Wellington, March 26 NZPA - Justice officials have been asked to look into the laws around self-defence, Justice Minister Simon Power said today.

Mr Power asked for the report after police prosecuted liquor store owner Virender Singh for attacking someone trying to rob his store.

Mr Singh no longer faces the prospect of a trial on two charges of injuring with intent after two justices of the peace ruled at a depositions hearing yesterday that the evidence against him was too conflicting and contradictory.

The charges were laid following an attempted robbery at Singh's Gilbert Rd liquor store in Otara on September 30 last year, where he lashed out with a hockey stick after being stabbed by a youth on September 30.

Police alleged Mr Singh hit Enrique Panui with a hockey stick while he was face down on the ground with Singh's nephew sitting on him, and that he hit Damien Manuel while he was trying to get to the store to help Panui.

Mr Singh said he acted in self-defence. He didn't hit either Mr Panui or Mr Manuel but a knife-wielding youth who stabbed him and threw the knife at his chest.

Mr Power told MPs he was not yet prepared to do a full review, but recognised there was "considerable public anxiety" about whether Mr Singh should have been charged in the first place.

"While I don't want to comment on the specifics of the case, I have asked officials for some advice on how section 48 of the Crimes Act is applied both in terms of how police exercise their discretion to charge and how broadly the courts have dealt with such issues," Mr Power said.

Section 48 says a person is justified in defending themselves in reasonable circumstances and section 55 of the Crimes Act also allows someone to use necessary force to stop someone entering their home.

Police yesterday defended the decision to charge Singh, saying they did so following a comprehensive investigation, but they respected the decision of the court.

"Charges laid were based upon the best evidence acquired during the investigation and upon consultation with police prosecutions service," a police spokeswoman said.

Mr Singh wants an apology from the police.

The decision delighted other South Auckland shop owners, some of whom had been the victims of robberies themselves.

Two years ago JPs threw out a charge of unlawfully possessing a gun laid against Auckland gunshop worker Greg Carvell, who shot a man who threatened to kill him with a metre-long machete in the gunshop in 2006.

NZPA PAR il nb

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