February 24, 2021
Robert Stewart appeared for five New Zealand accredited news agencies in December 2020 to oppose attempts by Grace Millane’s killer, Jesse Shane Kempson, to keep his name suppressed until his other appeals in relation to other charges had been determined. The Crown also opposed the application. Both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court rejected Mr Kempson’s applications.
The Court of Appeal said:
“… it is time now for a dose of reality. Regardless of his culpability for murder, Mr Kempson admits he killed Ms Millane and disposed of her body. There was no issue as to identity at this trial, and nor could there be. This all occurred more than two years ago. Mr Kempson has been convicted at all three trials and no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. In the ordinary way, there is a genuine and proper public interest in his identity being disclosed. Suppression occurred only because of the severance of charges and the separate trials he was facing. As events played out, that step was futile, given both the degree of publicity given to Mr Kempson’s association with Ms Millane on the internet, and his election of trial by Judge alone. Be that as it may, with the conclusion of those trials, if not of the whole legal process, it is time for the curtains of suppression to be drawn back and the light of open justice allowed back in.”
The Supreme Court declined Mr Kempson leave to appeal on the grounds that there was not matter of general or public importance raised and nor would there be any substantial miscarriage of justice if leave to appeal was not granted.