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One News
January 9 2006

Wrongly jailed teens lose appeal

Three Auckland teenagers wrongly jailed for a vicious attack six years ago have lost a bid to get more compensation from the government.

Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini, and Krishla Fuataha appealed the $130,000 they were offered for the time they spent behind bars. And now they could end up losing money instead.

Fuataha says she tries to block out the memories of her time in Mt Eden Prison as a 15-year-old and instead has a happier focus on her six-week-old baby.

"He brings a lot of happiness to my life he has changed me.  I used to be hard out naughty... drugs, alcohol... since he has come into my life I've gone the other way ... It's a miracle," she says.

Fuataha and her two friends made the headlines in 2000 when they were jailed for what a judge described as a sadistic slashing.

Police said the three had set upon a 16-year-old at an Auckland shopping centre and robbed her of $10.

The teenagers were freed seven months later after a witness admitted she lied. They were also found to have been nowhere near the attack.    

The trio challenged the government's compensation offer of more than $130,000 each after legal advice claimed they were entitled to significantly more.

On Monday they learned not only has the court rejected their bid for more compensation, the government has every right to seek legal costs from them.

Fuataha and her friends fear that would see them lose at least some of their money.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Mark Burton says he is yet to see the judgement and make a decision on whether to pursue costs.