How to question witnesses facing barriers to giving evidence (CPD 1.0 hr)

5:00pm Thursday, 30 May 2024
6:00pm Thursday, 30 May 2024
CPD Training
At your desk
Not Applicable
online, unknown 1000
New Zealand

Join our chair Kerryn Beaton KC, and panellist’s Coroner Ruth Thomas, Anne Toohey and Kingi Snelgar, as they share their experience and knowledge of effective ways to gather evidence from witnesses who experience barriers or challenges in giving evidence. 

If your client or witness is marginalised, disadvantaged or traumatised, they will often face barriers to communication and participation in the criminal justice system, and so eliciting critical evidence can be particularly difficult.  Such witnesses are described in legislation as vulnerable, but that assumes the barriers they face are inherent rather than inequitable – when it’s our system that often struggles to enable participation. Knowing how to obtain information from witnesses (either in chief or cross examination) is a very specific skill.  

Coroner Ruth Thomas who has significant experience working with deaf people and disabled people will provide insight on the relevant issues from a judicial perspective.

Anne Toohey has many years of experience leading the evidence of children and traumatised adults and shares her experience in this.

Kingi Snelgar has several years of experience working with young people in the Youth Court and will also look at how to overcome barriers to effective evidence from a te ao Māori perspective.

Kerryn Beaton KC chairs this session and will add insights from her experience as a criminal defence lawyer and prosecutor.

Topics covered include:

  • How to interview witnesses, overcome distrust and obtain the evidence you need
  • How best to elicit evidence in chief and how to cross-examine
  • Rules 

Our Presenters


Coroner Ruth Thomas

Coroner Ruth Thomas was appointed as a Coroner in March 2023.  Before her appointment she was a barrister and worked as a lead counsel assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care on the Disability, Deaf and Mental Health institutional care investigation. Coroner Thomas previously worked as a Crown prosecutor, police prosecutor and an advocacy trainer.


Kerryn Beaton KC (Chair)

Kerryn’s practice has a particular focus on criminal cases involving abuse and vulnerable people, and on commissions of inquiry.  Kerryn was the first Deputy Public Defender in Christchurch and has conducted many complex jury trials in the High Court and District Court, both as a senior Crown prosecutor and since 2016 as defence counsel. 

Kerryn has been appointed in three major inquiries including as counsel assisting the Pike River Royal Commission; as a legal officer in the United Nations Khmer Rouge investigations in Cambodia, and she is currently appointed as senior counsel assisting New Zealand’s Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Kerryn is a founding member of Walker Street Chambers in Christchurch.


Anne Toohey

Anne is an experienced trial lawyer with a broad practice that includes extradition, civil litigation, Commissions of Enquiry, Coronial inquests, reviews, independent investigations, and employment law.

Anne acts in criminal trials including serious fraud and murder, both for the prosecution and for the defence. As a senior counsel to assist the Royal Commission of Inquiry for Abuse in Care, and counsel for interested parties in the Christchurch Mosque terror attack Coronial inquest, she has led the evidence of many who are traumatised and distrustful of the legal system. As a civil litigator Anne is sought after for her advocacy skills and has experience in judicial reviews, High Court litigation and employment cases.

Anne was admitted to the Bar in 1996 and became a barrister in 2014 and currently practices from Canterbury Chambers in Christchurch.


Kingi Snelgar

Kingi Snelgar has whakapapa to Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Whakatōhea and Ngāi Tahu.
He is an experienced litigator having appeared in the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. ‍

Kingi began his career at Meredith Connell specialising in criminal prosecution before completing a Masters of Law at Harvard Law School as a Fulbright Scholar. Following this, he joined the bar practising in Manukau as a Youth Advocate and defence lawyer.

Kingi was appointed as an inaugural Commissioner on Te Kāhui Tātari Ture, Criminal Cases Review Commission. He is also counsel to assist the Royal Commission into Abuse in State Care. He currently practices at Bankside Chambers in Auckland.


This webinar is free to members of the NZBA 

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