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One News
March 25 2006

Trio give up compensation battle

Three young women wrongly jailed for a brutal robbery have given up their fight for more compensation and have decided to accept a government offer made several years ago.

Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini and McCushla Fuataha will be paid more than $130,000 each after their convictions for a brutal robbery were quashed.

It's the end of a seven year ordeal for the women, nine months of which they were locked up.

"We've waited for six or seven years now...we've just given up, we can't wait anymore," Vini says.

The trio were sent to jail when they were in their mid-teens for what was described as a sadistic slashing.

A 16-year-old at an Auckland shopping mall was brutally beaten and robbed of $10 in 1999.  But when a witness admitted she had lied and the teenagers were found to be nowhere near the scene, the convictions were quashed.

Three years ago they were offered $130,000 each in compensation.  On legal advice they sought more at the high court, but lost their case.

"It has never been about the's how we've been treated," Akatere says.

Their lawyer Gary Gotlieb says compensation standards in New Zealand are inconsistent.

"Someone that gets locked up overnight by mistake - this Thai woman got $5,000 for a few hours in custody - these girls get this for ruining their lives, their education...nine months in custody being ostracised," he says.

The three young mums are all desperate for a fresh start.

"I have no qualifications because of that, so I've got to start all over again," Vini says.