Friday, July 15, 2005

Graham Capill

Graham Capill has been sent down for nine years. No parole period was set meaning that he would be eligible in three years. Originally he was facing a sentence of about eighteen months on the grounds that his crime was a "one-off" that was at the lower end of the scale. But when two further complainants came forward and he pleaded guilty to the charges resulting from their complaints, it became apparent that his sexual offending was extremely serious.

Graham did no favours for himself by posting an email to his friends, the text of which is at the bottom of this article. The crucial passages are:
The law as it has been explained to me seems so different to what the Biblical law and indeed common perceptions are of rape. The fact that [name deleted] consented is irrelevant.

It is enough that we touched each others private parts - rape is then deemed to take place. Ignorance of the law or the effect of what I was doing to the girls is no excuse and so I must take full responsibility.
What's astonishing in all this is that Graeme has a law degree from Canterbury, has also been admitted to the bar and worked briefly as a police prosecutor. He should have at least known that a child is not capable of giving consent to sexual activity even if he or she says the required words. That Graham's lawyers should have had to explain the law to him indicates something seriously lacking in the clue department.

Secondly Graham is wrong when he says that rape takes place when each other's private parts were touched. Rape is by definition in New Zealand Law "penetration of person B's genitalia by person A's penis". If Graham had just touched then his crime becomes one of sexual violation by way of sexual connection (which has the same penalty as that of rape) or even indecent assault.

He then digs himself in further:
For example, I believe the girls were a lot older than the age alleged but I have no way to prove it.
Even if he sincerely believed it (as opposed to deluding himself), his belief is not a defence to the charge. If he really wanted to prove that the children were older than twelve when he attacked them, then all he has to do is obtain their birth certificate. So instead of having no way to prove it, he is still refusing to face up to the facts.

Graham's nine year sentence is roughly in line with what would be expected for the offences. Some people in nz.general have claimed that Graham got off lightly by comparing his sentence with that of Peter Ellis who was sent down for ten years. However Peter Ellis denied the charges (and I'll have to say I believe his denials) while early guilty pleas earn a reduction in sentence on the grounds of sparing the victims the ordeal of testifying. In reality, it's more like punishing the guilty for exercising their right to a fair trial.

Other than victims (three known and probably others), there's two people in this sad case that I'm concerned about. The first is Graham's wife who was told about his earlier offending long before the initial complaint to the police was made. Why she apparently did nothing, not once but twice, has yet to be explained. The second is the boxer, Danny McNally, who had earlier attacked him and was sent down for two years (he was neither related to or knew any of the victims). The Judge threw the book at him for his long history of criminal violence and at his sentencing hearing, his defence lawyer claimed (for what that's worth) that he had finally understood that resorting to violence was wrong. I'm worried that Danny, feeling vindicated, will continue on his wayward path. It's one thing to make irresponsible statements about wanting to do nasty things to Graham, it's another to actually do those things.