Peter Douglas Leitch
From the Evening Post 15th November 1997
The prison sentence of indeterminate length, preventive detention, has been reviewed in a Court of Appeal case. A court of five judges on Thursday decided Peter Douglas Leitch, 38, of New Lynn, Auckland , should be sentenced to eight years jail instead of preventive detention. The earlier sentence would have meant Leitch, a sex offender, was not eligible for parole for at least 10 years. Leitch appealed his sentence and at the hearing last month the Crown conceded the sentence was excessive. Leitch pleaded guilty to nine counts of indecent assault involving males aged 13 to 15 years who consented to the acts but were nonetheless said to have had far-reaching effects on them. Leitch had previous convictions for similar offences in 1988 and 1994.
Leitch was described as being hebophilic (attracted to teenagers between 13 and 16) rather than a paedophile. Delivering the Court of Appeal's judgment, president Sir Ivor Richardson said two psychiatric reports, particularly one not available to the sentencing judge, gave quite a favourable outlook for Leitch's future. One psychiatrist said Leitch had a good chance of not offending again if he could enter one of the prison sex offender treatment programmes. Preventive detention was intended for certain sexual and violent crimes where the court was satisfied there was a substantial risk that the offender would commit more crimes of the same type when released.
Reviewing the use of preventive detention, Sir Ivor said there had been 35 offenders' appeals against preventive detention in the past eight years. In six cases the sentence was changed to a finite term. All three of the Solicitor-General's appeals seeking preventive detention for offenders had been successful. Use of the sentence had been closely supervised because about half those sentenced appealed. The emphasis in recent appeals had rightly been on assessing the risk of reoffending and the likely effectiveness of available treatment programmes, Sir Ivor said. Because the court considered Leitch's sentence had been excessive, it was unnecessary to consider other grounds alleging preventive detention breached the Bill of Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, he said.
From the Dominion 9th October 1997
A homosexual with a predilection for teenage boys did not suddenly become a public danger when sentenced after being on bail for 17 months, lawyer Tony Ellis told the Court of Appeal yesterday. Mr Ellis was representing Peter Douglas Leitch who is appealing against a sentence of preventive detention, which carries a minimum non-parole period of 10 years. He said the sentence, for indecent assaults on four teenage boys, was manifestly excessive because Leitch did not have a long history of offending. He had four convictions of assaulting boys under 16 in 1988 for which he got a year's periodic detention and supervision and a conviction and a $2000 fine for indecently assaulting a man in 1994. Leitch had not corrupted the boys involved in the present offences; a probation report said they were "working boys" who had complied in the illegal activity.
The Appeal Court , comprising Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, president Sir Ivor Richardson, and Justices Henry, Thomas and Tipping, reserved its decision. Mr Ellis said Leitch should at most have got between four and six years' jail and it was highly unusual for preventive detention to be imposed on a man who had not previously been to jail. "Such a sentence was a last resort designed for hardened criminals," Mr Ellis said. Preventive detention was designed to protect the public at large but in Leitch's case it was protecting a class of teenage boy prostitutes. Preventive detention was also a breach of the Human Rights Act and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights because their was no provision for a sentence review before the 10-year non parole period ended and no rehabilitative treatment would be given for nine years.
For the Crown, Simon France said he was unable to argue in support of preventive detention for Leitch because the Court of Appeal had already overturned two preventive detention sentences Justice Speight had imposed in similar cases. But the need to protect the public could not be ignored and an appropriate jail term would be between seven and nine years. The Bill of Rights Act and the international covenant were not breached because sentences had to relate to crime victims as well as offenders. Also, preventive detention did not amount to cruel or disproportionately severe punishment. Ellen France, assistant lawyer for the Crown, said international convention requirements were met because a preventive detention sentence was regularly reviewed after 10 years and there was provision for special reviews earlier.
Date of Birth
1958 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Currently at large, believed to be in West Auckland
Was sentenced to preventive detention in May 1997
Successfully rescinded on appeal to be replaced by an 8 year sentence in November 1997
Understood to be released May 2001
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links Peter Douglas Leitch Appeal Notes
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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