Michael Andrew Keith Hastie
NZ Herald story 23rd July 2012
A New Plymouth man convicted of employing an underage girl as a prostitute has had his final appeal dismissed by the Supreme Court. In August 2010, a New Plymouth District Court jury found Michael Hastie, 61, guilty of six charges relating to sex with a minor and employing an underage girl as a prostitute. The court heard he pretended to be a 22-year-old surfer and used phone calls and text messages to lure a 15-year-old girl from her grandparents' home in Wellington to his New Plymouth house, where other young women were working as prostitutes.
The girl was reported missing by her grandparents but Hastie posed as a caring father-figure to the authorities and applied for guardianship through the Family Court. Hastie gave the girl alcohol and cannabis and the pair had sex on two or three occasions. After several months she began working as a prostitute, with Hastie making the bookings and receiving a share of her earnings. The trial jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts on two charges, but after 10 hours of deliberations was unable to reach consensus on the other six charges.
After direction from the judge and another half-hour of deliberations, the jury returned majority 11-to-one guilty verdicts on the remaining charges. Hastie was later sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Hastie appealed both his sentence and conviction in the Court of Appeal, arguing the trial judge should have directed jurors to deliberate further before telling them they could reach a majority verdict. The Court of Appeal rejected the argument but Hastie then went to the Supreme Court, which granted him leave to appeal his conviction.
Lawyer Susan Hughes QC submitted that the trial judge should have directed jurors, as part of his majority verdict direction, that they should be true to their oaths and should not give in merely for the sake of agreement. In its written decision, released today, the Supreme Court found the trial judge did not put pressure on the jury to reach a majority verdict. The court ruled the judge's direction was entirely informational and appropriate, and dismissed Hastie's appeal.
The court noted trial judges were "uniquely placed" to weigh all relevant considerations when deciding how to respond when jurors indicated they were having difficulty reaching a verdict or had reached a deadlock. It suggested trial judges should keep informational directions about the requirements of majority verdicts separate from any encouragement for the jury to deliberate further until a majority verdict is reached.
Mark Keith Hastie
Date of Birth
Blackmore Street, New Plymouth
Sentenced to 4 years 6 months in March 2011
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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