New Zealand Police v Burton [2017] NZDC 15639

Published 19 December 2017

Pre-trial application — application to admit hearsay statements — witness statements — veracity of statements — reliability of statements — statements made by critical witness — whether statements made by unavailable witnesses — whether reasonably practicable for the maker of statement to be witness — Evidence Act 2006, s 22. The prosecution sought to have written statements made by four witnesses admitted as hearsay evidence as the witnesses were Dutch tourists who were no longer in the country. The court found that the statements were made by the most critical witnesses in the trial, and that the test regarding the accuracy of the statements was met, the court questioned the weight that could be rested on the statements in the absence of the ability of the defence to cross-examine the witnesses. The court then considered whether the witnesses were available as they were outside of New Zealand. The court noted that no information had been supplied indicating that the witnesses were unwilling to return to give evidence, or that the evidence could not be provided by technological means. The court accordingly found that it was reasonably practicable for the makers of the statements to be witnesses. The application to admit the statements of the witnesses as hearsay evidence was declined. Judgment Date: 17 July 2017.