Focus on Police Competence

The Trevor Franklin Police Botchup - Index

2005    Reports 2006   

This page last updated October 26 2006

2006-1011 - NZ Herald - Wrongly jailed women 'mistreated because young and brown', say lawyers
Lawyers claim three wrongly jailed women did not get higher compensation because of their age, race and social background. Yesterday it was announced that Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini and McCushla Fuataha are to get payments ranging between $162,000 and $176,00. Their lawyer Gary Gotlieb has said the compensation is not enough and he believed the girls had been "mucked around" because they were young and Polynesian. Another lawyer, Peter Williams QC, who is also president of the Howard League for penal reform, said today there was "no doubt the colour of their skin" was a factor and if the women were people of high status their compensation would have been far greater. Mr Williams told National Radio this morning: "I think there is a prejudice against people in what you may call the lower economic strata, I also think there is a prejudice against Maori people -- I think there is also a prejudice in this country against anyone who is a minority group."

2006-1011 - NZ Herald - $500,000 compo 'too little too late'
by David Eames -
The lawyer for three women wrongly convicted and jailed over an attack on a teenage girl has rejected as inadequate Government compensation for the trio. Gary Gotlieb said yesterday the payouts totalling more than $500,000 to Tania Vini, Lucy Akatere and McCushla Fuataha were "far too little, far too late"

2006-1011 - Newstalk ZB - 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. ….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

2006-1011 - Dominion Post - Compo for girls' lost youth
Two of the three young women who lost part of their youth after being wrongly jailed for seven months say their $340,000 compensation payout will help buy a better future for their children. Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini and Kushla Fuataha were just teenagers when they were jailed for a crime they did not commit – the aggravated robbery of a 16-year-old girl in an Auckland shopping mall in August 1999. Justice Minister Mark Burton announced yesterday that the young women had now accepted the original compensation offer, plus legal costs

2006-1010 - Stuff - Wrongly jailed teenage girls accept compo
Three young Auckland women who were wrongly jailed have accepted compensation ranging between $162,000 and $176,000 each, Justice Minister Mark Burton announced today. Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini and McCushla Fuataha each served seven months after being falsely convicted of the aggravated robbery of a 16-year-old girl in Three Kings shopping mall in Auckland in August 1999. Ms Vini and Ms Fuataha were 14 at the time and Ms Akatere was 15

2006-1010 - - GovernmentCompensation.htm
October 10 2006

Government compensation miserly, sexist and racist.
Media Release

The government has been extremely miserly in their offer of compensation to three girls who were jailed for a crime that they did not commit, spokesperson Brian Robinson says.

The justice minister accepted the girls were innocent, but only offered each girl compensation ranging from $135,000 to $137,000 (excluding disbursements). These amounts of money are significantly less than previous awards for wrongful imprisonment.

The Government

·                     Has not explained the basis for their stingy decision in the case of the three girls.

·                     Has been even more miserly in refusing to pay interest on the money that they have retained since the girls were first offered compensation.

The Government appears to have no appreciation at all for

·                     The trauma that completely innocent people experience when confronted with a justice system that has made a mistake.

·                     The harm that was done to three girls affected in their formative years by such an experience.

·                     The loss of opportunity experienced by the girls who suffered a damaged education

·                     The period of time affected which not only included the seven months in jail, but also the time from when the girls were accused, and the time after release, while they were adjusting to freedom.

·                     The inevitable loss of friends and damaged relationships experienced by the girls

·                     The real costs that the girls experienced in unnecessarily defending the charges.


The only explanation for the government's woefully inadequate response appears to be that the claimants are young, non pakeha, and women.

2006-1010 - Newstalk ZB - Lawyer "disgusted" by Govt actions
The lawyer for three young Auckland women awarded compensation for wrongful convictions is furious at how long the process has taken…. Their lawyer Gary Gotleib is disgusted, saying the government has taken seven months to pay up, after settling the dispute. He points out the three young women have lost their youth, and schooling, and been locked up, all through no fault of their own. He says although the High Court did not support his clients' case for compensation of a million dollars, he believed they had grounds for appeal. However, the three women said they had had enough and did not want to proceed any further. Mr Gotleib says it is also wrong that the Government has not paid any interest on the compensation for the time it has taken them to pay up

2006-1010 - One News - Wrongly convicted trio accept compo
Three young Auckland women jailed for a crime they did not commit have accepted compensation from the government…..The women had been seeking a million dollars compensation, but reluctantly agreed to this deal in March. It has taken another seven months for the money to be paid. Their lawyer Gary Gotlieb believes the reason the case has been handled so badly by the government, is because the trio are all Polynesians. He says the women wanted more but have simply run out of patience. Gotleib is disgusted at the government's handling of the situation

2006-1010 - NZ Herald - Girls accept compensation for wrongful imprisonment
by NZ Herald staff -
Three young girls jailed for a crime they did not commit have accepted an offer of compensation from the government. Tania Vini, Lucy Akatere and McCushla Fuataha have accepted compensation ranging between $162,000 and $176,000 each after a long battle for an increase on the initial amount offered.

2006-1010 - Newstalk ZB - Wrongly imprisoned trio get compensation
Three young Auckland women jailed for a crime they did not commit have accepted compensation from the Government. Tania Vini, Lucy Akatere and McCushla Fuataha were convicted in August 1999 for the aggravated robbery of a 16-year-old schoolgirl in Mt Roskill. They successfully appealed their convictions on the basis that two principal witnesses had retracted their testimony and were released after spending around seven months in jail

2006-0402 - NZ Herald - Cops clear themselves in wrongful conviction case
by Leah Haines - The police have cleared themselves of wrongdoing over a botch-up that left three young girls jailed for a crime they did not commit. A heavily-censored police report into the wrongful conviction of Lucy Akatere, then 15, Tania Vini, 14, and McCushla Fuataha, 14, shows officers involved in the case were "counselled". Police told the Herald on Sunday the officers were never found guilty of misconduct or malpractice and continued to work in criminal investigation. That was despite a succession of errors, including failing to check the girls' alibis and hanging the entire case on the word of a 13-year-old later found to be lying.

The willingness of the Police to clear themselves of this botchup gives the New Zealand no confidence that the Police are capable of investigating themselves for professional incompetence.  

The news reports on these pages tell a different story that one would have expected a trainee police officer to easily comprehend.

There are remarkable parallels to the way the police exonerated the key police investigators in the Peter Ellis case. Indeed, in 2006, one of the Ellis case investigators has been amazingly promoted to Commissioner of Police. Perhaps Franklin will be so rewarded in years to come.

2006-0325 - One News - 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

These three girls are the victims of the Police.  The NZ Government have been able to treat them shabbily with regard to compensation because they are young and Maori, and their case has been publicised in a relatively low profile manner by the media.

2006-0110 - NZ Herald - Trio fail in court quest for more compo
The judge agreed, ruling that the Government criteria and guidelines "mesh coherently and ... compensate for all the heads of loss identified against the aggravating and mitigating factors listed". "They are not unworkable, they are not arbitrary and they are not unfair. Nor can Cabinet's decision be assailed on the basis that Ms McDonald misapplied the criteria. She did not. She applied the criteria accurately."

He ruled that the girls' case must fail, adding that declaratory relief would have been of doubtful use to the claimants because "ultimately it is for the Cabinet to say on what terms it will make compensatory payments that it has no duty to make, and to which the claimants have no enforceable right"

The Cabinet has the full responsibility for the mean spirited compensation offer that the three girls were offered.

2006-0110 - Stuff - Wrongly jailed women lose bid for more compensation
Three young women wrongly jailed for a crime they did not commit have failed in a High Court bid for more Government compensation. Lucy Akatere, Tania Vini and McCushla Fuataha each served seven months after being falsely convicted of the aggravated robbery of a 16-year-old girl in Three Kings shopping mall in August 1999. Ms Vini and Ms Fuataha were 14 at the time and Ms Akatere was 15.

The girls' lawyers maintained in the High Court at Auckland that the Government's criteria and guidelines were irrational, unprincipled, unworkable, arbitrary and unfair. However, the Attorney-General argued that the method used to calculate compensation complied with the guidelines. Furthermore the Attorney-General's lawyers argued, the court had no ability to review the criteria as the Crown was under no duty to make any payment, as payments were made ex gratia.

The Government arbitrarily invented the "guidelines", and this case is the first case in which the guidelines have been used.  

This site agrees completely with the girls' lawyers opinion about the "guidelines"

2006-0109 - One News - 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…. 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.