Thursday, 16 April 2009

Veitch pleads guilty

I noticed that there was a large media scrum outside the district court this morning as I walked to work. Seems that Tony Veitch has pleaded guilty to reckless disregard causing injury while the six charges of assault against him have been dropped. I suspect that rather than a sudden epiphany that his decision was motivated by the lengthy wait for a trail may have been the impetus for his decision.

The person I feel most sorry for in all this was the woman he hit who suffered not only at the hands of her attackers but his PR team who used the Sunday papers as their medium for further bullying. I'm not surprised she has gone overseas.

What annoys me the most about this whole case has been the meme 'she asked for it.' I'm not going to pretend that because Kirsten is a woman she is perfect, but rather that it shouldn't matter if Veitch found her in his bed with his best mate or she made a comment about smallness. To me there is no acceptable use of violence other than to defend yourself against a real physical threat. Other than that we need to stop slapping pastel paint on domestic violence with terms like 'lashing out' 'ignited' and call it for what it really is, assault. I have no doubt that Veitch suffered hardship from this incident but he made the choice to assault her rather than to walk away.

Veitch will undoubtedly get a token sentence, go to some anger management classes and declare himself a changed man. Given that his history, I really hope he does. The actions of his PR team, and his non-apology lead me to believe he won't.

Update: Kristin Dunne-Power's victim impact statement makes for sobering reading but will no doubt be drowned in a sea of crocodile tears about her poor former partner.

41 comments:

Lew said...

Token is right - a $10k fine, 300 hours community service, and possible violence-management counselling.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10566898

L

Alison said...

From the NZ Herald;

"Veitch all but disappeared from public life after the allegations, moving from his $1.8 million Herne Bay villa." Disappeared from public life my arse! His refusal to do so, and insistence on putting his side forward at every possible opportunity, at Dunne-Powell's expense, is almost as distasteful to me as the original assault.

"Judge Doogue said she took into account Veitch's lack of premeditation in attacking Ms Dunne-Powell and his remorse when sentencing him."Isn't his remorse rather undermined by his insistence over the past year that he was going to "clear his name"? It's not that I don't believe he wishes he hadn't done it, but his actions since the allegations became public have shown a profound lack of empathy for Dunne-Powell.

And WTF to the possible anger-management training?

I find the whole thing deeply disappointing. Ultimately I don't think incarceration would have been a better result, because I'm not particularly in favour of it as a means of controlling/correcting/punishing crime, but this is so inconsistent with what many other men receive, and I'm infuriated that no reference has been made to his behaviour since it all hit the news.

Alison said...

Sorry that's hard to read, my html went screwy.

Anna said...

I'm actually very relieved for Kristin Dunne-Powell that there has been some resolution, and admission from Vietch that his actions were wrong (even if there isn't much contrition there).

It sends a pretty alarming message, though: cultivate sympathy by promoting misogynist stereotypes, and enjoy a reduced sentence...

I'm pretty certain Veitch was sure he wasn't going to get a custodial sentence, or he wouldn't have pled guilty, which is pretty cynical on his part. I'm not overly interested in seeing the guy punished - I just want him to say sorry and mean it.

Dave said...

... which of course he did do. Several times.

Idiot/Savant said...

I hate blogging about crime news, but there are times when the injustice of a decision is so great it just screams out for a response. This is one of them. Veitch beat his partner to the floor then kicked the shit out of her, broke her back and put her in a wheelchair. To be allowed to get away with labelling this "reckless disregard causing injury" utterly minimises what has occured. It is not merely "reckless" to repeatedly kick the crap out of someone while they are screaming on the floor - it is deliberate, in that if you didn't mean to hurt someone, you wouldn't do it. Allowing Veitch to escape admitting that sends a very clear message: it is OK - at least if you're a rich white celebrity who can afford a big PR company to character assassinate your victim.

Idiot/Savant said...

Anna I just want him to say sorry and mean it.Dave: which of course he did do. Several times.I think you missed the last part of that.

Saying "no excuses, but..." and seeking to blame your victim isn't meaning it.

Anonymous said...

Dave: Where? And publically? And not just "I'm sorry *I*...". Every apology he has made has NEVER been about the victim, it has always been about how sorry he is for himself.

By the looks of the story, the Judge said all the things he SHOULD have said.

A Nonny Moose said...

Oops, the above comment was me.

backin15 said...

What I/S said sums it up for me. I find this sentence hard to comprehend. At the very least, it ought to lead to a review of the guidelines since on the face of it, it's exactly as Alison said and that's appalling.

Anna said...

Dave, saying 'sorry' then coming out with a bunch of sad-arse excuses for your behaviour, implying she was 'asking for it', then denying you did anything wrong by pleading not guilty, doesn't really add up to a meaningful apology.

Anonymous said...

So if you bash a woman so badly she is left with a fractured spine in two places (and permanent disfiguration)is only worth a fine?

Isn't that a great message to send?

They need to change the ads - It's not OK (well it is sometimes).

Old Sheila said...

The NZ Herald today is testing the waters about whether you want Veitch back on TV. Have your say.
And numerous threads on TradeMe message boards are are also backing Veitch. Get over there and have your say, loudly.
(Journalists read the Herald online and scan TradeMe messageboards for public opinion - fewer read Hand Mirror comment.)

Don't stop at telling us, tell them.

A Nonny Moose said...

Ugh. It's a sad day when society guages public opinion on the cesspool of media outlet commentary pages.

People hang up their brain, spelling, grammar skills and manners when they comment over at The Granny and Stuff. Ain't anonymity grand (says the Anonymoose)

Anonymous said...

Just checked The Herald comments and one of the first comments there is:

"Without knowing the details of what provoked the violent response, how can we form an opinion of Tony Veitch?"

Is this really how people think? That violence against women is justified in some circumstances?

A Nonny Moose said...

Been having a quick flick through the comments there as well. Seems a reasonable amount against Veitch coming back, even some well phrased and logical arguments.

Though I'm sure a band of apologist trolls must not be too far away.

I'm intrigued by his statement that he's going to sue media outlets for slander. Wonder if SST will be one of them. And will he argue about the slander against Dunne-Powell. Computer say No.

Della said...

I think he's desperate to stay in the limelight and that's why he's going after the media.

I think it will be hilarious if it backfires on him and it was revealed how much his PR company worked behind the scenes to smear Dunne-Powell.

A Nonny Moose said...

Wow, Stuff moved fast. The Veitch headline top spot has already been replaced by the mommy fetishization of Angelina Jolie.

Giovanni said...

Not only he's not going to say that he's sorry. He's going to demand that we all apologise to him - that's the idea behind going after the media.

Anonymous said...

Is it wrong to point out how greasy and disgusting he looked on Cambell Live?

AWicken said...

No doubt we're all forgetting that Tony's the victim in all of this.

Oh no, wait...


And I suppose that if it's "reckless disregard causing injury", then anyone who says he "assaulted" his partner has slurred his good name and can be sued.

Two things from the entire saga leap out at me:

You can break someone's back (through "disregard") and still be under the impression that you "part on good terms"; and

Dropping $150k for "medical bills" (not "hush money") can contribute to the reasoning for being spared 6 assault charges (and possibly jail time?).


God people are so depressing somtetimes!

Anna said...

His Campbell Live performance was so premeditated - apologies that were thinly-veiled blaming tactics, like 'I shouldn't have let myself be driven to do that'.

Then, on the other hand, he came out with quite strong statements like, 'It was inexcusable'.

I couldn't tell if if was only cynical media manipulation, or if at some level he really buys into the idea that, in some situations, men can't or shouldn't have to control their violence - and genuinely feels hard done by. If that's the case, he's got a lot of rehabilitation left to do...

Keely said...

Unfortunately I watched his performance on Campbell Live and was left thinking even less of him than I did based on prior publicity.

Anna, I don't think any of those remorseful statements he made were genuine. I think he's been coached in the catchphrases to say and I think he quite cynically used them. I would even be cynical enough to wonder about the reported suicide attempts - how handy that it led the judge to believe that a jail term would be injurious to his health. Does this mean that anyone convicted of a crime merely has to make sure the media knows about a couple of suicide attempts in order to avoid jail time?

His appearance on Campbell Live was purely to try to revive his career. He asked what he could have done differently - he could have chosen NOT to kick his girlfriend. He could have also chosen to grow some spine of his own and admitted that he made a bad choice (and a violent reaction IS a choice) and that he was genuinely sorry.

I'm left wondering - Does this mean that someone could kick Veitch in the back then claim that they were driven to it by his attitude and statements? Then of course, be sorry they got caught and get off with a minor sentence?

I can only hope that his probation officer was watching and decides Veitch would benefit from the Stopping Violence course.

Terry said...

WTF! She was in Vietch's house going through his stuff, would not leave when asked and wouldn't stop arguing and abusing Vietch. Why didn't she leave? Vietch wasn't holding her against her will. She could have just shut up and walked out of there? Why did she stay where she wasn't wanted and to continue to provoke him? She chose to stay and to fight, for hours, she chose to continue to provoke him and abuse him. I'm sorry but I have little sympathy for her, she lost all control of her behavior way before Vietch did. FFS If someone did this to me in my own house Id throw them out. If you're prepared to dish out the shit you've got to accept it back, no pun intended.

Keely said...

Terry, whatever Dunne-Powell said or did, Veitch CHOSE to use violence. It was not the only option he had. It was a choice he made.

Lucy said...

What I find worst is the fact that Veitch consistently acts as if this was a one-off incident that he was "driven to" - if so, then why did the police charge him with six counts of assault ranging over the length of his relationship with Dunne-Powell? That doesn't sound like a one-off loss of contro. It sounds like continued domestic abuse. But I bet you'll never in a million years get Veitch admitting that.

A Nonny Moose said...

Terry: Dunne-Powell did not physically assault Veitch (dish the shit that would require equal shit given back). Communication in a relationship may fall apart, but not to a level that it's acceptable - EVER - to assault someone.

This Eye-For-An-Eye bollocks really holds our society back from evolving.

Anna said...

Terry, if what you've said about Dunne-Powell's behaviour is correct, Veitch could have called the Police to have her removed like any reasonable person would have in the situation.

Most of us face situations that make us angry regularly. Most of us find better ways to deal with this than fracturing people's spines.

If your mother, partner or sister had had her back broken in this situation, would you be so keen to make excuses for the violence?

A Nonny Moose said...

"The first six to eight weeks were just horrendous. Particularly on Sundays. Sometimes I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't believe the things, the lies that were being told ..." - Dunne-Powell
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10567054

Yeah, I'm thinking that it shouldn't be Veitch suing for slander...

George said...

It turns out he lied to Susan Devoy to get her to offer a testimonial for him.

backin15 said...

If there's someone who can explain how Vetich avoided jail, I'd be grateful to know. I find it more unbelievable the more I know. Six previous man assaults female charges were dropped - presumably because Ms Dunne Powell wanted them dropped - but his sentence seems woefully inadequate given his history of violence (perhaps though the "history" isn't admissable, it's a while since I did evidence). Did all his celeb mates know the full story - Devoy didn't. And why should it mattter that his supporters are celebs, they're popular, not better judges of character.

Anna said...

What is the history of violence you're referring to here, backin15? Does this relate to other charges that were dropped?

Some quite insightful comments from anti-violence experts here:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2342105/Veitchs-words-concerning-anti-violence-expert

Anonymous said...

Terry is an example of men willing to believe any rubbish gossip they can to excuse violence against women.

Veitch said in emails well before he went to court that she wasn't 'tresspassing' on his property. They were having dinner.

backin15 said...

Anna, yes - the charges that were dropped. Will check out the link.

Anonymous said...

So it seems the consensus is that tougher sentencing by judges would do more to prevent this sort of crime?

Anonymous said...

Anna, I don't think any of those remorseful statements he made were genuine.The question for me is, given that none of us know him personally, are we really able to judge whether what he says is genuine or not based purely on the way it appears in the media?

Knowing whether what somebody says and what they actually believe is difficult when it's somebody you know intimately. It strikes me as even harder to be 100% sure when you only see them on TV or read about them in the papers.

AWicken said...

Let me put forward the question:

Does a truly remorseful person juxtapose "there is no excuse" (and other apparently unequivocal statements of remorse) alongside minimising comments ("it was a very stressful time.."), victim-blaming comments ("I shouldn't have let myself be driven to do that") and indeed assert that if it wasn't part of the plea deal it must never have happened? All in the media?

No. Even if he is merely weak and a desire to get back into high-paying public-profile jobs has led him to publicly mitigate his actions (though he "genuinely" feels remorse) - well, I think that makes him an even sadder individual than a self-obsessed thuggish brute who is under the illusion that as he's god's gift to the universe it's all been blown out of proportion. At least the thug doesn't know he's wrong.

Anna said...

Anon, I doubt there's a concensus, but I don't think that tougher sentences would do squat. I have a lot of doubts about the justice system, but so long as we have it, I think it should be impartial - how many celebrity friends a person has should have no bearing on the sentence they get. And getting a PR company to help you imply your victim was asking for it is also pretty shit.

And that's what bothers me most of all. It's the fact that this case has 'ended' with Tony Veitch being ultimately unapologetic for what he's done, and his position has been endorsed by a bunch of celebrities and the legal system. It's the undercurrent of misogyny here that's the issue, not the sentence itself.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of doubts about the justice system, but so long as we have it, I think it should be impartial - how many celebrity friends a person has should have no bearing on the sentence they get.So this post is less about how unfair the result is to Ms Dunne-Powell and more about how unfair it is to all the rapists and abusers who don't have Susan DeVoy on their speed dial? Hmm, I didn't see that, but OK.

It seems to me that the you guys feel Veitch's apologies would be sincere if he offered no explanation for his actions (since that's making excuses) and didn't attempt to defend himself in court (since that's blaming the victim). Unfortunately not defending oneself in court will usually attract a higher sentence.

this case has 'ended' with Tony Veitch being ultimately unapologetic for what he's done, and his position has been endorsed by... the legal system.Would you really say finding him guilty and sentencing him is endorsing his unapologetic position?

Bear in mind that the courts have no power to compel him to make an apology, but even if they did (which appears to be what you're calling for) the apology would obviously not meet your 'genuine' test.

It just seems to me that the difference between a genuine and non-genuine apology is so incredibly subjective it can't be the basis for a justice system, particularly not a justice system which aspires to treat everybody the same.

Anna said...

Anon, the difference between a genuine and non-genuine apology may be subjective, but it's pretty clear that trying to inflict further harm on a person by digging dirt on them isn't apologetic behaviour.

Veitch was found guilty of a feeble charge which mocks the seriousness of willfully inflicting a potentially fatal injury on someone.

And as for Veitch being unable to defend himself - a) he admitted to injuring Dunne-Powell long before his trial, and b) far more importantly, there is no justification for violence other than self-defence. That's the whole point. Veitch seems to think that if the public could just appreciate how annoying Dunne-Powell could be, we'd understand why he smashed her spine. Nope, sorry. Attempts to give excuses for domestic violence are bullshit. There are no excuses.

And while I don't think anything is achieved by harsh sentencing (NB I'm talking sentencing here, not charges), I think it's morally repugnant that Veitch thinks he should now just go back to happy celebrity life-as-usual, after going out of his way to avoid acknowledging the seriousness of what's he's done. When you do vile things, people don't like you - and they like you even less when you make excuses for what you've done. That's just life.

Anonymous said...

Anna, you say that all you want is an apology, but I really do wonder.

It's easy to fob off the question by saying 'well, although I don't believe in imprisonment, the law is the law and it should be applied equally'. That's rhetorically neat but ideologically messy. You're avoiding the big question by simply accepting the legal system as an objective factor and something that isn't up for discussion.

I realise you are more interested in discussing this particular case than the hypothetical, but so many times I have read you and others on this blog say "I'm not sure I truly believe in imprisonment, but...".

Would you really be prepared to say to a woman who wants her attacker locked away - not because she wants the law to be applied evenly, but because she won't feel safe until he's under lock and key - that if his remorse is genuine, and she never has to see him again, she should be content with that?