7.7.1 Extract from "Crime in New Zealand."


Department of Justice, New Zealand.
"Crime in New Zealand." R.E. Owen, Government Printer, Wellington, NZ 1968. [jp]

Interesting if dry perspective on criminal cases, criminals, justice system etc. in NZ between 1920 and 1964. The copy I found in our library had a handwritten subtitle/annotation: "Doesn't Exist." This book is useful for giving indirect information about public reaction and perceptions and the context of the crime. For example, there were only 109 convicted murderers in the entire country between 1920 and 1964 and the impact of sentencing on public morale was discussed for several cases. The following quotation is from pp. 44-45: [jp]


Five male and two female juveniles, whose ages ranged from 14 to 17 years at the time of the offence, were convicted of murder between 1940 and 1964. Five of them were sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, and two boys to life imprisonment.

Case XII [cases are assigned anonymous IDs in the book. jp]

The two boys referred to, aged 14 and 15 years, escaped together from a Child Welfare home and fatally wounded a farmer whose house they raided.

Both accused were found guilty of murder with a recommendation for mercy, and the Judge commented that this was a right verdict which might have a very salutary effect in this country. ...

Case XIII [obviously the "Parker Hulme" murder case. jp]

Another joint murder was committed by two girls aged 15 and 16 years. The older of the two was physically handicapped as a result of osteomyelitis.

This girl formed an emotional attachment with a younger girl who was then recuperating from tuberculosis. In her childhood in England the latter had a fairly unsettled background of air raids, evacuation, physical breakdown, and consequent frequent absences from home. Her parents were highly intelligent.

The two girls found solace in each other's company and indulged in excessive fantasy. Eventually their parents decided that they should be separated--on the grounds of ill-health one was to be taken by her father to another country. The other decided that her mother was the only obstacle to her accompanying her friend, and both girls agreed to kill her. They considered themselves apart from ordinary law and morality, and felt justified in allowing nothing to stand in their way. There is evidence that their exalted state had built up to a climax over the preceding year with a strong emphasis on murder and violence. They killed their victim with a brick in a stocking; while later admitting the killing, they did not admit to any feelings of guilt.

The defence in the case was based on a plea of insanity. All five doctors in the case agreed that the girls were unbalanced, and three (sic) found them to be certifiably insane at the time of the murder and the trial. They were classified as folie a deux paranoiacs of an exalted type. But the defence failed to establish that they were insane according to the McNaghten (sic) Rules and both were found guilty. They were sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and were released after five years. [This is by far the longest case history in this section. jp]

Case XIV

Two of the remaining three juveniles involved in murder were found guilty of sexual killings. One boy aged 14 years killed an eight-year-old girl in the act of sexually assaulting her. (His older brother had previously made a Children's Court appearance for the attempted rape of a seven-year-old girl.)

Case XV

A 14-year-old boy was involved in the other case of sexual murder, but unlike the previous case, he was of below-average intelligence, as were his unsatisfactory parents. ... He sexually assaulted and strangled an eight-year-old boy in a city park.

Case XVI

The last and most recent juvenile murder...was committed by a 17-year-old boy. He had been drinking heavily and became involved in a fight at a dance. He got a knife and stabbed his victim--apparently without motive.

All three were detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.


Only seven females were convicted of murder between 1920 and 1964. In the same period 90 men were convicted. ...

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