Focus on Police Competence

The Trevor Franklin Police Botchup - Index

2002 News Reports - Index

Sunday Star Times
March 24 2002

Police unravel why innocent teens jailed
by Rachel Grunwell

Up to areas of concern are expected to be highlighted by police as they investigate how three teenage girls were jailed for crimes they did not commit.

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. They had been jointly convicted of an aggravated robbery near the Three Kings Mall in Auckland in August, 1999.

They spent seven months in jail before being granted bail after their lawyer Gary Gotlieb and private investigator Bryan Rowe persuaded police to reopen the case.

The main witness has since said police pressure led to her false evidence. She retracted her evidence by affidavit. The girls could receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. Police have already apologised.

The Sunday Star-Times understands police heads met with Gotlieb and Rowe recently to discuss preliminary findings.

It is understood police raised up to 10 areas of concern including: * A lack of supervision on the case.

* A rushed investigation which took only two days, with some checks allegedly not made.

* Relatively junior staff handling a serious case.

Detective constable Trevor Franklin, a former international test cricketer who now works at Ponsonby police station, was in charge of the case and has continued working.

His superior at Balmoral police station at the time may also be in the spotlight over supervision issues. However, the sergeant has since left the force under the Perf provisions - physical or mental impairment - so could not be disciplined even if found to have played a part.

Rowe and Gotlieb refused to discuss any preliminary findings but Rowe said over the years he had come across a "considerable" number of cases where there had been a lack of supervision. This was because there was a lack of experienced staff. He believed supervision problems were an issue for police nationwide. Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said the internal investigation was complete and the Police Complaints Authority inquiry finished.