Focus on Police Competence
Three teenage girls who walked free from court yesterday after the conviction which sent them to prison last year was overturned will seek compensation, their lawyer said.
Teangarua Lucy Akatere, 17, Tania Mayze Vini, 17, and Krishla Priscilla Fuataha, 16, were jailed last year for what a judge described as a "sadistic" slashing.
The three had their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in Auckland yesterday after they spent eight months in prison for aggravated robbery.
They were convicted on the evidence of a 13-year-old, whom police now say was unreliable. She gave several versions of an attack which left a schoolgirl, 16, cut and bruised.
The schoolgirl was attacked near the Three Kings Mall in Auckland in August 1999. She was repeatedly slashed with scissors, kicked and thumped and robbed of $10.
After Justices Robertson, Gault and Salmon yesterday overturned the conviction, which was not opposed by police, the trio's lawyer Gary Gotlieb said they would be seeking compensation but not immediately.
Mr Gotlieb said the three did not commit the crime and were wrongfully convicted.
He said police had tunnel vision, and police often believed they had the offender, then found the facts to fit the crime.
Mr Gotlieb said the issue of compensation had yet to be decided, but it would be sought and the girls would be offered victim support.
"We are not even going to think about it for some time. We are just going to get these girls sorted out, that is the main thing."
He said despite the "terrible injustice" that had been done, yesterday's ruling had shown the system could right itself.
Ms Fuataha was sentenced to two years' jail, the other two for 18 months.
"The investigation and trial system failed in this case," said Justice Gault.
Waikato Times; Edition 1
Three teenage girls will seek compensation after being jailed for a crime they did not commit, their lawyer says.
Teangarua Lucy Akatere, 17, Tania Mayze Vini, 17, and Krishla Priscilla Fuataha, 16, had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal in Auckland yesterday after they spent eight months in prison on a charge of aggravated robbery. They were convicted on the evidence of a 13-year-old that police now say was unreliable.
Their lawyer, Gary Gotlieb, said the wrong conviction had taken a terrible toll on the girls and their families.