5th September 2011
Who speaks for the children: Alcohol and the ability to make people laugh are no excuse
The verdict by Judge Philippa Cunningham that discharged without conviction a comedian who pleaded guilty to sexually
offending against his daughter is deeply concerning and should be offensive to any right-thinking New Zealander.
“We have a significant child abuse issue in New Zealand which will only be addressed when we start to respect and value
our children, and are prepared to stand up for them when they don’t have a voice,” said Murray Edridge, Chief Executive
“Barnardos is very concerned that the judgement passed down on Friday 2 September will set a precedent. The verdict
suggests that a person’s ability to get work in the future, and their ability to make people laugh, is more important
than a child’s safety.
“This man has come home drunk, committed an unacceptable sexual act on his daughter and has admitted doing so.
Unbelievably, he faces no legal consequences for his actions. A discharge without conviction means there will be no
record of his crime. He has previously been charged with unlawful sexual connection and escaped conviction in that case
“It is very concerning to think that being talented and funny somehow excuses the inexcusable. I absolutely disagree
with the Judge’s assertion that “the effects of a conviction outweighed the gravity of the offending”.
“These actions are not without impact. The mother and daughter were deeply traumatised by the drunken actions of this
individual and have been receiving counselling.
Over the past weekend we have celebrated Fathers Day when we acknowledge and celebrate the importance and value of our
Fathers and the role they play in keeping us safe. Sadly this was not the experience for this four-year-old.
“Child sexual abuse is a serious issue, with longitudinal studies showing that up to 20 percent of children in New
Zealand experience sexual abuse and that abuse has long-term consequences.
“If we are going to change this, we need Police, the Social Services sector, the Judiciary and all New Zealanders to
take abuses against children seriously. In this case it appears we have failed to do so,” concluded Mr. Edridge.