Son gets prison leave for Black Power dad’s funeral

August 22, 2014 | By More

High Court-panoply1A High Court judge will allow Chance Mangukaha Beazley – now in custody facing sentence on a robbery charge – out of prison on Monday to go to the funeral of his father, South Island Black Power president Ardie Beazley.

Beazley, 29, will be in the custody of his uncle, William Mahanga, for the day to attend the funeral at Rehua Marae in St Albans and then his father’s cremation.

Justice Christian Whata granted the order at a bail appeal hearing today, after hearing that police and Corrections Department did not want to have their staff escorting the son at a gathering of Black Power gang members.

Ardie Beazley died aged 57 in hospital on Tuesday.

Chance Beazley is in custody and due for sentencing next Wednesday after pleading guilty to a charge of robbing a 68-year-old woman by snatching her handbag after she had made a withdrawal at an automatic teller machine.

Defence counsel David Bunce, corrections staff, and the police will have to come up with a management plan about all the release arrangements for Monday, and file it with the High Court by 4pm today.

Chance Beazley will not be allowed to use alcohol or non-prescription drugs during his hours of freedom.

He was not at the hearing, but Justice Whata told his defence counsel: “Please make it known to Mr Beazley that non-compliance with these conditions of release could put in jeopardy similar opportunities for other prisoners.”

Justice Whata said his experience with the release of another prisoner in similar circumstances, who had returned to the prison as arranged, gave him confidence about Beazley’s release.

He noted that Beazley had 37 previous convictions and had served 19 terms of imprisonment – including concurrent sentences – but only three were for relatively minor violence-related offending.

He had committed 11 offences while on bail, four breaches of community work sentences, and had failed to appear at court on bail seven times. He had a conviction for escaping from custody. He was seen as a moderate-to-high risk of absconding while on bail.

“Ordinary compassion demands that a prisoner be given the opportunity to attend a parent’s funeral,” he said.

There were legitimate concerns about gang presence at the funeral, but it was a special occasion where animosities would take a back seat.

For this event, a senior member of the family would be prepared to escort him while on bail.

Justice Whata said he did not believe Chance Beazley represented a significant risk to the community, and he was not prone to acts of violence. His robbery involved no violence other than the grabbing of the handbag. The woman victim had fallen down and broken a fingernail, but the emotional impact had been very significant.

“I accept there is a risk Mr Beazley may take the opportunity to abscond but I think this is mitigated by the circumstances – his purpose it to attend a funeral,” said the judge.

To deprive him of the opportunity to mourn the death of his father, with wider family and friends, would mean punishing him in a way that was “grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the offending”.

Category: News

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