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NZ Herald
October 16 2001

Convictions overturned for jailed teenagers

Three teenage girls who spent eight months in prison for what a judge described as a "sadistic" slashing of a schoolgirl have had their convictions overturned in the Court of Appeal.

Krishla Fuataha, 16, Lucy Akatere, 17, and Tania Vini, 17, fought back tears as they left the court in Auckland this morning, after Justices Robertson, Gault and Salmon quashed the conviction and told the three they had the court's sympathy for the injustice which had wrongly sent them to prison.

The three were convicted of aggravated robbery in August last year after an attack on a 16-year-old in an Auckland park in August 1999. Krishla was sentenced to two years' jail. The other two received 18 months.

Arm in arm with their lawyer Gary Gotlieb as they left court, the trio said it was a "sensational feeling" to be free.

They appealed the conviction after a private investigator produced new evidence showing they were not in the Three Kings park when the girl was attacked.

The victim was thumped and kicked and had her head banged against a tree stump.

She was then dragged to a nearby toilet block, where she was robbed of $10.

Each time the girl said she had no more money to give, she was sliced with a pair of scissors.

At sentencing last month, Justice Randerson said, despite the defendants' young age, he did not consider a non-custodial sentence appropriate because of factors including the deliberate cutting of the victim, which he said was "quite sadistic."

He noted the trio continued to deny their offending.

Krishla was said to have wielded the weapon. At sentencing, her conduct was described by prosecutor Kieran Raftery as the most "cold, callous and chilling."