Exercise Answers

Answers to media law exercise - A robbery at Nuriz Pharmacy

The following are suggested answers to the media law exercise. We have crossed out any paragraphs which you must delete at certain stages of the case to stay within the law. Look at the answers and read the short explanations.

Answer to Question 1.

Police in Port Moresby are hunting a thief who stole $5,000 after beating a shop assistant over the head with an iron bar.

The robbery took place at The Nuriz Pharmacy in Tabari Place, Boroko, shortly after 10 o'clock last night.

Police say a man walked into the shop as the assistant was closing, beat her to the ground with a long iron bar and ran off with the weekend's takings.

The woman, Mrs Mary Lee of Gahunagaudi Drive, Gerehu, underwent emergency surgery at Port Moresby General Hospital, where her condition is said to be stable.

Police believe the attacker was a drug addict seen hanging around Boroko for the past week.

They say he is extremely dangerous and warn the public not to approach him.

Inspector Hari Eli said shop assistants should take extra care when closing late at night.

He said the shop owner, Mr Jo Nuriz, had been stupid and negligent in allowing Mrs Lee to lock up on her own.

You must delete the final paragraph because Inspector Eli's words defame Mr Nuriz.

Answer to Question 2.

The owner of a Boroko chemist shop today called for a crackdown on drug addicts after one of his staff was badly beaten in a robbery.

Mr Jo Nuriz said police should be given wider powers to arrest drug addicts found loitering on the street.

Police believe that a drug addict robbed Mr Nuriz's pharmacy in Tabari Place on Sunday night, after battering an assistant with an iron bar.

Mr Nuriz said the suspect had been seen hanging around Boroko for several days.

Police say the man they are hunting is aged about 21, tall and very thin, with dark curly hair and a long scar on his left cheek.

All of the original story is now unsafe to use because a man is about to be charged; the case is now sub judice. You must write a new story using only the facts of the charge and details which will not be challenged in court, such as the name and address of the pharmacy.

Answer to Question 3.

A 20-year-old man today told the National Court that he had never been within a hundred kilometres of a chemist's shop in Boroko he is accused of robbing.

Frank Tanget, from Lae, said he had never visited Port Moresby in his life and could not have robbed the shop in Tabari Place and beaten the assistant over the head with an iron bar.

Tanget has pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery and attempted murder at The Nuriz Pharmacy on August 18.

He told the court he had been a drug addict since the age of 12, but had never been in trouble with the law.

The shop owner, Jo Nuriz, spoke to reporters outside the court. He told them that he knew for a fact that Tanget had already been convicted twice for assault.

It would be contempt to publish Mr Nuriz' comments, made outside the court about a current case. Any juror reading your story could be influenced by the statement that Tanget had previous convictions. You must not mention previous convictions unless this is something the jury has already been told in court.

Answer to Question 4.

You must tell your news editor that you cannot interview any member of a jury while they are hearing a case. This would be clear contempt of court.

Answer to Question 5.

You must NOT use the feature in the form in which you have written it. Tanget has been found not guilty, so you must not publish anything which suggests otherwise. You might, at a later date, be able to use some material in a general feature about drug addiction or crime, but you must never imply that Tanget was guilty of the Nuriz robbery.

Answer to Question 6.

The same day, your colleague who was in court returns with the following story. He has included comments from a press conference held by Inspector Hari Eli outside the court:

A 22-year-old self-confessed drug addict has been cleared of robbery and attempting to murder a shop assistant in Boroko last year.

Supreme Court Justice Leo Breadfruit found Frank Tanget not guilty of robbery and attempted murder at Nuriz Pharmacy.

Tanget, who was arrested last September in Lae, had told the court that police had made up evidence against him.

At a press conference outside the court, Inspector Hari Eli said that Tanget had long been a thorn in the side of the law.

He said that only a last-minute change in the evidence of one witness had saved Tanget from a long stretch in prison.

Because Inspector Eli's remarks about Tanget were made outside the court (and after the case has finished), they are not protected by privilege and could be defamatory. Tanget has been found not guilty.

Answer to Question 7.

A Boroko shop assistant says she will never fully recover from a beating she received during a robbery last year.

Mrs Mary Lee was finishing a day's work at Jo Nuriz's chemist shop in Tabari Place last August when she was attacked by a man wielding an iron bar.

She spent three months in hospital and still needs a wheelchair to move around. Doctors have told her she may never walk again.

The Supreme Court yesterday found a 22-year-old Lae man, Frank Tanget, not guilty of robbery and attempting to murder Mrs Lee.

Mrs Lee said she could not understand why the judge reached such a verdict. She said she had given him evidence clearly identifying Tanget as the attacker.

You must delete the final paragraph. It implies that the judge did something wrong and this could be contempt. It would also be defamatory because Mrs Lee suggests that Tanget was guilty, even though the court has found him to be innocent.

Remember that there is now only one person in the whole world who has proof that he is innocent - that person is Frank Tanget.

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Index of exercises
  1. Writing the intro exercise
  2. Writing the news story exercise
  3. Robbery at Nuriz Pharmacy
Chapters associated with this exercise:
64. Court reporting - the rules
65. Court reporting - how to do it
66. Court reporting - a case in practice
67. Privilege
68. Contempt
69. Defamation - what you cannot do
70. Defamation - what you can do

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