Jeffrey George Nicholls
From the Evening Post, May 4 1998, Edition 3, Page 15
Legal aid decisions made by the Court of Appeal's registrar were not reviewable by the courts, a majority of the Court of Appeal said today. But responsibility for processing legal aid decisions should be removed from the court, today's decision said. Convicted murderer Jeffrey George Nicholls and Rangi Tekopa Tikitiki, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for rape, were each denied legal aid for their appeals.
They asked the Court of Appeal to quash the decisions of the registrar or deputy registrar and declare that the system of legal aid used by the Court of Appeal was unlawful. Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum said a judicial review was available in theory for significant errors but the registrar's decision was arrived at after consultation with a Court of Appeal judge, he said. He said he did not believe that the law would allow the registrar's decision to be reviewed by a judge in a lower level court than the Court of Appeal.
However, he criticised the law under which the scheme is run as "unusual"."Some might use more unflattering epithets," he said. Under the scheme, the registrar consults with up to three judges. If one of the judges is in favour of legal aid being given it is automatically recommended. Sir Thomas said it was not realistic to expect a registrar to exercise completely independent judgment after having consulted a Court of Appeal judge, Sir Thomas said.
From the Evening Post, March 22 1996, Edition 3, Page 15
Masterton man Jeffrey George Nicholls has been found guilty of murdering Kevin Arnold outside the Kuripuni Tavern on April 15 last year. In the High Court in Wellington yesterday Nicholls, 33, mechanic, was sentenced to life imprisonment by Justice Goddard. The jury of seven men and five women took more than three hours to reach their verdict. Family members of Kevin Arnold let out a shout of approval at the verdict.
Crown prosecutor Grant Burston told the jury they would feel sympathy for Nicholls's family and sympathy for Mr Arnold's family but they must put that aside while considering their decision. "This is not the Wild West. We live by the law and civilian executions have no part in the law," he said. He said the jury had to decide if this was how people behaved in real life and if what had happened was reasonable behaviour. "It was a deliberate and well-planned ambush of an unarmed man."
Defence counsel Ken Daniels said he disagreed that emotions played no part in the trial. "It was about the love that Nicholls had for his family and about fear. These emotions explain why the tragedy occurred."He asked the jury to consider who was the most precious person in their lives and what they would do in the situation of being threatened by a heavily tattooed gang member with the Devil about his neck and a fearsome reputation.
Justice Goddard, in her summing-up to the jury, said it was clear Kevin Arnold had been no angel, that he had a reputation that included serious violence and that he might have been an enforcer and a hitman for a gang, but he had a positive side. She said this included his involvement with rugby and his withdrawal from gang membership. However, she said it was true that Mr Arnold's dark side was an issue in the case. The jury had to decide if the degree of force used by Nicholls was reasonable. Justice Goddard said the jury should not be swayed by prejudice or antagonism.
Date of Birth
Shot a man dead outside the Kuripuni Tavern in Masterton in April 1995
Sentenced to mandatory life in March 1996
Eligible for parole April 2005
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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