Principal reminds Trinity students alleged murderer has name suppression

Trinity Catholic College

Dunedin’s Trinity Catholic College principal Kate Nicholson has reminded college students that sharing Enere McLaren-Taana’s alleged murderer’s name is illegal.

Sixteen-year-old McLaren-Taana was attacked and stabbed outside the Dunedin bus hub (pictured) on Thursday last week. He was rushed to hospital but later died.

A 13-year-old was charged with murder when he appeared in the Youth Court on Friday last week. He was granted name suppression.

Online naming

Reports that the alleged murderer’s name is appearing online prompted Nicholson to issue a reminder to the wider Trinity Catholic College school community.

She said the court had suppressed the accused’s name. There are legal consequences for ignoring court directives such as this.

Under the Criminal Procedure Act, any persons who “knowingly or recklessly” publish any name in breach of a suppression order could find themselves in trouble.

They could face a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment or a fine of up to $25,000.

Nicholson is therefore taking the opportunity to educate the school community about the legal system and what a suppression order means.

Dangerous mix

Nicholson says high emotions and social media are a “dangerous” mix in scenarios like this.

She notes the role of social media, which can sometimes be the first source of truth for young people today.

“It’s really important that they understand we’ve got a legal system in New Zealand that is trusted to make the right decision, and law is put in place to protect everybody.

“Name suppression is one example of that, and that needs to be respected.”

Democracy and the courts

In democratic society where freedom of speech is a factor, managing situations where information is being suppressed presents difficulties.

This is particularly so in cases when witnesses may be connected with the victim and the alleged murderer. This is the situation for some witnesses present at McLaren-Taana’s death.

“It’s not unusual considering the number of witnesses that were present [at the attack] and Dunedin is a fairly connected place” Nicholson says.

That’s why it is important that the school community has “some transparency and some learning” as to why the court’s name suppression orders must be kept she says.

Everyone must respect the court’s ruling.


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News category: New Zealand.

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