Focus on Police Competence
Auckland - Police Commissioner Rob Robinson has offered a public apology to the three "victims of a miscarriage of justice".
"We agree with their lawyer that matters need to be put as right as they can, and on behalf of NZ Police I publicly offer them our apologies," he said yesterday.
Three teenage girls spent seven months in Auckland's Mount Eden Women's Prison after being wrongly convicted of the aggravated robbery of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Auckland in August 1999.
This week the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction, told the girls they had the court's sympathy, and suggested the police investigation needed close scrutiny.
Teangarua (Lucy) Akatere and Tania Mayze Vini, both aged 17, and McCushla (Krishla) Priscilla Fuataha, 16, had their convictions thrown out after the Crown's main witness, a 13-year-old girl, retracted her evidence by affidavit.
Their lawyer, Gary Gotlieb, said that while they would apply for compensation from the Government, the priority was to get the girls right and make sure they had access to victim support.
Justice Minister Phil Goff wants to fast- track the compensation process for people sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.
Yesterday a spokesman for Mr Goff's office said the Minister, who is in China for the Apec conference, wanted to streamline the compensation process.
Auckland officers would contact the girls' families to convey police regrets.
Mr Robinson said police acted swiftly when the Auckland city district commander became aware of the case.
"A reinvestigation started immediately in April and over 100 people were interviewed," he said. "This investigating officer concluded the convictions against the girls were unsafe."