Sir Bob Jones

I’ve waited a week for an announcement of a Police appeal against the extraordinary judgment by Auckland District Court judge Claire Bennett, but to date, nothing.

That was her discharge without penalty, plus name suppression, of a bloke who put a camera in a gym and took almost 40,000 photos and videos of women and men in “various states of undress,” using the toilet and what have you, in a uni-sex gymnasium dressing room. The judge let him off scot-free on the most extraordinary grounds.

First, she described the offending as an “isolated incident”. How on earth 40,000 photos and videos amounts to an “isolated incident” is beyond belief.

Then she said, a conviction, punishment and exposure of his name would adversely affect both his job and employer’s reputation, namely a government agency.

Obviously if the particular government agency was say, The Human Rights office, it would be more embarrassing for them given their function, as opposed to say the Tax office. But that’s bad luck and no-one would really hold any employer in disrepute for the criminal activities of an employee. The Police, for example, have a sizeable unit investigating criminal offences by police-officers and regularly bring prosecutions. That’s not embarrassing, rather it’s honest and to their credit, as opposed to covering up offences by their personnel. Such offending is inevitable when ordinary folk are given a uniform and authority.

What could be more embarrassing to the government than when our top military attaché in our Washington embassy was prosecuted last year for an identical toilet photographing offence in the embassy?

He was named and shamed, albeit seemingly got off lightly with a four and a half months home detention, a “punishment” that always strikes me as farcical.

Surreptitious photographing people in dressing rooms and toilets seems a fairly regular offence, liable for prison terms. God knows why blokes get a kick out of it, (they’re always males) but plainly some do.

But if Judges are going to behave in this fashion, then any deterrence factor is eliminated. The Police must appeal this insane judgment.

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Bob Jones
Sir Robert ‘Bob’ Jones — now New Zealand’s largest private office building owner in Wellington and Auckland, and with substantial holdings in Sydney and Glasgow, totalling in excess of two billion dollars — is a property investor, author and former politician, who has written fiction as well as books on property investment, selections of his newspaper and magazine columns, and reminiscences of former prime minister Robert Muldoon. While at Victoria University of Wellington, he earned a ‘blue’ in boxing and contributed to a boxing column in the university’s newspaper Salient. A multi-millionaire, Jones earned his wealth through investments in commercial property via his company Robt. Jones Holdings Ltd. He founded and led the New Zealand Party in 1983. In 1989 he was made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in received the New Zealand 1990 Commemorative Medal.