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Newstalk ZB
October 11 2006

Father's hard efforts pay off

A father who would not give up, is being credited with helping to clear the name of the daughter he had faith in and her two friends.

Cushla Fuataha, Lucy Akatere and Tania Vini have received compensation of between $162,000 and $176,000 each for being wrongly convicted and imprisoned in August 1999 for a street robbery in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill.

They served eight months in prison but were acquitted in 2001, when a witness admitted she had lied. It was then proven that the teenagers were not at the scene.

The women decided to fight for more compensation than the Government's recommendation of an official statement confirming their innocence and compensation of $130,000 for Ms Vini and Ms Akatere and $137,500 for Ms Fuataha. An ex gratia payment was also offered on the condition that no further action was taken against the Crown, but rejected by the teenagers.

Private Investigator Bryan Rowe says if it had not been for Tania Vini's father, the women would forever be thought of as criminals. Mr Rowe says Mr Vini hired a lawyer and several private investigators to probe the bungled police inquiry and paid a high emotional and financial cost, with the strain being so great after the convictions that he could not work for around three months.

Mr Rowe says the police case was so sloppy it was not hard to prove officers had got it wrong. He says the system has taken too long to acknowledge the mistake.

Justice Minister Mark Burton has announced that Ms Fuataha will receive $165,330, Ms Vini $176,621.36 and Ms Akatere will receive $162,830.36.