Well, this case is not all about me – but it has pushed me to blog again, for which I am grateful.
Tony Veitch has pleaded guilty to the most serious of the charges against him, injuring with reckless disregard in January 2006. He admitted to kicking Kristin Dunne-Powell in the back hard enough to break two of her vertebrae.
He admitted he later took her to Auckland Hospital, though how much later is unclear. Perhaps when her agony was unbearable?
Mr Veitch’s guilty plea for the most serious charge brings the case to an end, because a deal has been struck for the Crown to withdraw a further six charges of male assaults female, relating to alleged assaults between March 2002 and December 2005.
So we don’t have the chance to hear, whether, in fact, Mr Veitch would have been able to “strenuously defend” these charges, as he promised, repeatedly, once charged. He was obviously not able to “strenuously defend” breaking Ms Dunne-Powell’s back. The “two sides” to this story turned out to be one – she was telling the truth.
The other charges remain of interest to me though – NZ Police do not charge lightly in domestic violence cases, and they are quoted post-trial:
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said outside court that police had investigated the case thoroughly and professionally.
“The bottom line is this is not an unusual case. What’s different is Mr Veitch is high profile.
If the case was not unusual, and Mr Veitch pleaded guilty to just one assault though originally charged with many others – well, I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist.
Oddly, Women’s Refuge have praised Mr Veitch for entering a guilty plea, saying they believe he is taking responsibility and it is a step in the right direction.
I say oddly because Mr Veitch has been protesting his innocence for months, has hired a spin doctor to manage his media coverage, which has ensured his version of events has been ever-present, and still, post guilty-plea has some remarkable ways of communicating his new-found responsibility.
Until now…. because of severe legal constraints… and the agreement i signed… I’ve been unable to say anything…. let alone defend myself.
From today that stops….
I was so concerned about what happened and it was so out of character I undertook counselling to help me understand how i could be driven to such a place.
“That is not me. It will never be me again.
“I wish I had handled things differently that night……
What still confounds me… is my misguided belief that Kristin and I actually parted on good terms.
“While we both realised our relationship could not work….. we remained in contact for a full year after the incident and attended counselling together.
I will praise Tony Veitch for taking responsibility when he stands up and says that how he behaved towards his ex-partner was not ok, that she has every right to be horrifed by it, and that, if in fact, as originally charged, this incident was part of a pattern of behaviour, he admits that and stops blaming everything but his choice to be violent.
Attending a Stopping Violence course would be a great start – I find it astonishing that it was not compulsory – until I saw the judge presiding.
Judge Jan Doogue has been a champion within the Family Court of domestic violence being perpetrated by both men and women. Her first two sentences in her address to a Child and Youth Law Conference in 2004:
Domestic Violence is morally indefensible. Domestic Violence is perpetrated by both men and women.
This is of course, true. But probably not the first two things anyone with any knowledge of statistics and research around who is harmed by domestic violence would say.
The same speech drew on research into domestic violence which suggested there were five different types:
(a) ongoing and episodic male battering
(b) female-initiated violence
(c) male-controlling interactive violence
(d) separation-engendered and post-divorce trauma
(e) psychotic and paranoid reactions
This research, and Jan Doogue’s insistence on gender equality in terms of violence has been strongly criticised for a number of reasons, but I’ll leave you with how the research she references describes 7 and 8 year old daughters of “episodic male batterers”:
In general, there were poor boundaries between these men and their daughters, especially among substance abusing men, with mutual seductiveness and provocation of his aggressiveness
Lucky Mr Veitch. Looks like he got a sympathetic judge to hear his plea bargain. And now, of course, it was the media to blame all along when he kicked the woman he had previously loved hard enough to break her bones.
Bill Ralston, once again, shows where his sympathies lie when it comes to violence against women, and is surprised a broadcaster who hired a PR whiz to represent him garnered so much media coverage.
It remains just to ask, will Tui reprise their sympathetic billboard of last year? I’ve got a suggestion: