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2001 News Reports - Index

NZ Herald
October 23 2001

Freed girl's father likely to recover forfeited cash
by Paul Yandall

An Auckland father who paid a man $4000 to investigate the case against his innocent daughter in prison could get his money back in a compensation payment.

Vini Kavi, the father of 17-year-old Tania Mayze Vini, who with two other girls was wrongly convicted last year of aggravated robbery, paid the man to help free his daughter.

But after six months, the man failed to find anything of significance in the case and managed only to arrange a meeting between Mr Kavi and lawyer Gary Gotlieb.

Mr Gotlieb hired a registered private investigator, former police superintendent Bryan Rowe, to investigate the case and as a result the girls' convictions were quashed last week.

They spent seven months in Mt Eden Women's Prison before being released.

Mr Gotlieb said last night that the man had offered to return $3000 on Friday but the offer was not taken up because charges had been laid against him for practising as a private investigator without a licence.

Mr Kavi said he felt the $4000 was being poorly spent at the time, but he was so desperate to free his daughter he did not worry about the amount.

"I don't know what he did with the money. I do want it back but I don't want to see him get away with this sort of thing another time."

The Herald was unable to contact the man yesterday.

Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said yesterday that the Auckland city district police commander, Superintendent Howard Broad, had indicated Mr Kavi's $4000 would be taken into account in any compensation paid.

Compensation estimates range up to $70,000 for each of the three girls.

Police are investigating the way the case was conducted and Mr Broad is expected to visit Mr Kavi's home today to apologise for the police role.

The officer in charge of the initial inquiry, former test cricketer Detective Constable Trevor Franklin, has hired a lawyer to help defend his actions.

The Court of Appeal in Auckland last Tuesday quashed the joint conviction for aggravated robbery against Vini and Teangarua (Lucy) Akatere, both 17, and McCushla (Krishla) Priscilla Fuataha, 16.

The court heard that after their trial, the Crown's principal witness, a 13-year-old, retracted her evidence by affidavit.

The 13-year-old had claimed she and the other three committed the 1999 attack on a 16-year-old schoolgirl at Three Kings Plaza in Mt Roskill.

The victim was thumped and kicked and her head banged against a tree stump before she was cut with scissors and robbed of $10.

Krishla Fuataha, who was said to have wielded the weapon, was sentenced to two years' jail, the others to 18 months.