Concerns for failed case rate
Fifteen per cent of serious criminal charges in South Auckland are not making the grade for prosecution – double the national average.
Police are privately expressing concern that too many of their investigations are not making the cut for prosecution.
One of those cases that wasn’t pursued was a prosecution connected to the biggest cocaine importation bust in New Zealand history: 35 kilograms stuffed inside a large diamante-encrusted horse sculpture. A total of 105 files, out of 676, were dismissed or withdrawn by the Manukau crown prosecutor’s office last year.
By comparison, just seven per cent of the Auckland crown prosecutor’s 810 files were withdrawn or discharged. Whangarei had the lowest percentage overall with just under three per cent.
Nationwide, just 7.5 per cent of cases received by the Crown prosecutor were handed back to police without further action.
The figures were released to the Labour Party’s police spokesman Stuart Nash, who says the high number of non-prosecutions at Manukau is ‘‘of concern’’.
A local police officer had contacted him over the numbers.
‘‘They were frustrated with all the work being done on the files that was amounting to nothing.
‘‘These are 105 files, and in some cases there has been up to two years work on them.’’
In May 2016, police intercepted the cocaine-filled horse sculpture. They charged two foreign nationals, Ronald Cook, a 54-yearold American, and 45-year-old Mexican Augustine SuarezJuarez, with involvement in a ‘‘sophisticated international drug trafficking operation’’.
The pair were found guilty by jury trial in June.
A third man, 30-year-old Gonzalo Rivera Pavon, was charged in July 2016. Pavon protested his innocence, and friends even set up a Givealittle page to fundraise for his reported $210,000 in legal fees.
In May, just days before he was due to face trial, the crown prosecutor announced all charges against him had been dropped. His lawyer, Ron Mansfield, said at the time that he was an innocent victim, who believed he was helping a legitimate business which could help him build a better life in New Zealand.
Manukau crown solicitor Natalie Walker was unable to comment by deadline.
The Labour Party’s Stuart Nash.