Con­cerns for failed case rate

Manukau Courier - - FRONT PAGE - JARRED WIL­LIAMSON

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.

STUFF

The Labour Party’s Stu­art Nash.

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