ALLAN GOLDEN AGAINST OTAGO DAILY TIMES

Case Number: 2677

Council Meeting: JULY 2018

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Otago Daily Times

Ruling Categories: Accuracy

Overview

CASE : 2677

NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL RULING ON THE COMPLAINT OF ALLAN GOLDEN AGAINST OTAGO DAILY TIMES

FINDING: NO GROUNDS TO PROCEED.

Allan Golden complained that a sentence in an Otago Daily Times report of a court case was inaccurate. The article, published on May 19,2018, was headlinedMan jailed indefinitely for sexually motivated attacks committed 25 years apart.

The report covered the sentencing to preventive detention of “recidivist rapist and serial predator” Colin Jack Mitchell, the jury having found him guilty of abduction, wounding and assaulting a young woman at a quarry in Riverhead, West Auckland.

The contested sentence read “After the trial, Mitchell was found guilty of the historic unsolved rape of a West Auckland mum in 1992.”

Mr Golden suspects it is a previous conviction from 1984 that was mentioned at the end of the trial. He complains that “people are only found guilty during a trial, generally at or near the end of the trial but never after it”.

Mr Golden is correct in that this is usually the case.

However, in this case Mitchell was on trial for the current offence as well a previous unsolved rape, from 1992, which had come to light as a consequence of DNA obtained from the current case. The trials ran concurrently, but details of the earlier rape were suppressed for the duration of the trial.

The Otago Daily Times article was taken from a New Zealand Herald piece and slightly abbreviated.The Herald sentence read “After the same trial Mitchell was found guilty of the historic unsolved rape of a West Auckland mum in 1992”.This sentence is accurate. Removal of the word “same” from the sentence in theODT report renders the sentence slightly confusing, but not inaccurate.

A complete sentence might have read “After the trial for the quarry case Mitchell was also found guilty of the historic unsolved rape …”, but the sentence as published was not inaccurate.

Ruling: No Grounds to Proceed.