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The Dominion
February 5 2002

Wrongly jailed teens wait for compo

Police tardiness was delaying compensation for three teenage girls who spent seven months in jail for crimes they did not commit, their lawyer said yesterday.

Teangarua Akatere and Tania Mayze Vini, both 17, and McCushla Priscilla Fuataha, 16, all of Auckland, were freed on bail from Mt Eden women's prison last April and their convictions for aggravated robbery were quashed by the Court of Appeal in October.

Lawyer Gary Gotlieb said police were yet to hand over details of the original investigation of the case, despite repeated telephone calls, e-mails and letters.

"They've had since April. They're being coy. They don't want me to see it and are trying to say there are parts of it that are confidential," he said.

The detective in charge of re-investigating the case, Senior Sergeant Stuart Allsopp-Smith, said an internal police investigation had to be finished before he could give the original files to Mr Gotlieb. The investigation was completed last week.

Mr Gotlieb said he could not put a figure on the compensation claims without seeing the file.

It has previously been reported that it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.