Focus on Police Competence

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2002 News Reports - Index

NZ Herald
August 15 2002

QC advising on payout to wrongly jailed girls
by Scott Macleod

A Queen's Counsel has been asked to advise the Government on compensation for three girls who were wrongly jailed for robbery in 1999.

Justice Minister Phil Goff said yesterday that Kirsty McDonald, QC, would give independent advice on whether the girls should receive a payout, and if so, how much.

Lucy Akatere and Tania Vini, both 17, and Krishla Fuataha, 16, have said they are tiring of their long wait for compensation.

The trio spent seven months in Mt Eden Women's Prison after being convicted for an aggravated robbery in 1999.

They argued that they were nowhere near the scene of the crime in the Auckland suburb of Three Kings. A witness later said she gave false evidence under police pressure.

Police apologised after the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions last October but the girls' lawyers are seeking compensation.

Mr Goff said yesterday that he had received a preliminary application for compensation, and had appointed Ms McDonald.

Her advice would take into account the conduct of police and other Crown agencies. The teenagers would have the chance to make submissions.

Mr Goff said Ms McDonald had been asked to complete the report "as quickly as possible".

A lawyer acting for the teenagers, Gary Gotlieb, said they had missed out on schooling and suffered mentally from being jailed.

He spoke yesterday of drinking problems among the teenagers, of their being unable to sleep with closed doors, and of their need for psychiatric help.

Police have finished an internal investigation into the case. Spokeswoman Sarah Martin said it was yet to be decided whether this report would be released.