Focus on Police Competence
Auckland: Three young women wrongfully convicted and jailed want the High Court at Auckland to quash a compensation package worth almost $500,000 and order the Government to make a new offer.
Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini and McCushla Fuataha served seven months in prison after being jointly convicted of an aggravated robbery in Three Kings in August 1999.
Ms Akatere was 15 at the time and her coaccused were 14.
The case was reopened after a witness admitted she lied and the three were proven to have been nowhere near the scene of the attack.
The Court of Appeal overturned the convictions in 2001 and told the girls: “We offer our sympathy.”
A report prepared for the Government by Wellington QC Kristy McDonald in 2003 recommended that it pay Ms Akatere and Ms Vini $135,000 each and Ms Fuataha $137,500.
The Government has said that, with other payments, the trio was offered more than $160,000 each.
The women are challenging the Government guidelines used to reach compensation figures.
Rodney Harrison, QC, yesterday told the court the guidelines were unworkable, inconsistent and arbitrary. “It is our case that sense cannot be made [of the guidelines],” he said.
Dr Harrison said for periods of wrongful imprisonment of less than a year, the daily compensation figure worked out to be $143. In his experience, compensation for a wrongful arrest and one day in custody would be $10,000-$15,000.
The hearing continues today.