Tok po­lice un­der fire

Mum’s treat­ment angers ex-cop

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By FLORENCE KERR

For­mer Toko­roa po­lice of­fi­cer David White is out­raged of­fi­cers in­volved in the wrong­ful ar­rest of his mother-in-law Mii Teoko­tai have not been held ac­count­able five years later.

An In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Con­duct Author­ity re­port re­leased last year to the fam­ily heav­ily crit­i­cises the ac­tions of De­tec­tives Rick Rudolph, Neville Hawkins, Con­sta­ble Shaun Ryan, for­mer Toko­roa cop Greg Standen and a num­ber of high pro­file of­fi­cers through­out the Bay of Plenty Po­lice District.

The re­port cov­ers the wrong­ful ar­rest of Toko­roa JP, Mii Teoko­tai, in re­la­tion to the 2005 ar­son of St Luke’s Ta­mariki and Mokop­una Apii Pu­nanga.

She was ar­rested in June 2005 over al­le­ga­tions of fraud and was charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit ar­son but the charge and al­le­ga­tions of fraud were later dis­missed for lack of ev­i­dence.

Mrs Teoko­tai lost her job as a re­sult of the charges.

Po­lice al­leged the ar­son was com­mit­ted to stop a new com­mit­tee find­ing out about al­leged fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Po­lice seized a com­puter and 20,000 doc­u­ments from Mrs Teoko­tai and she spent sev­eral hours in a po­lice cell.

The case col­lapsed four months later when po­lice failed to dis­close any ev­i­dence against her. But they re­fused to re­turn her prop­erty for nearly two years and did so only af­ter she took them to court.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Taupo de­tec­tive Rick Ba­gley in 2007 found no ev­i­dence of fraud.

Mr White made a num­ber of al­le­ga­tions against the of­fi­cers in­volved, which the IPCA in­ves­ti­gated. He al­leged that Toko­roa Po­lice did not have good cause to ar­rest Mrs Teoko­tai and her ar­rest was un­law­ful.

He claimed the po­lice failed to pro­vide dis­clo­sure of ev­i­dence in a timely man­ner and that the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion was in­com­pe­tent and a breach of po­lice gen­eral in­struc­tions.

Mr White said the po­lice in­ap­pro­pri­ately ad­vised the pu­nanga to sus­pend Mii Teoko­tai, three months be­fore her ar­rest.

Po­lice failed he said to pro­vide an in­ven­tory list of things taken from Mrs Teoko­tai’s prop­erty when a search war­rant was ex­e­cuted de­spite nu­mer­ous re­quests. Nor was the prop­erty re­turned.

The author­ity also looked at why Mr White’s orig­i­nal com­plaint was not re­ported to the author­ity as re­quired by law and the ap­point­ment of a Toko­roa

of­fi­cer to in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaint. They also looked at the time taken to re­solve the com­plaint.

The author­ity found in favour of Mr White on a ma­jor­ity of his com­plaints.

The re­port states the Toko­roa of­fi­cers in­volved in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ar­son and fraud were ‘‘in­ex­pe­ri­enced and out of their depth.’’

Mrs Teoko­tai’s ar­rest was un­law­ful. Po­lice did not have good cause to sus­pect her of con­spir­acy to com­mit ar­son. Her in­car­cer­a­tion for three hours and con­fis­ca­tion of her pass­port was un­rea­son­able and un­jus­ti­fied.

The po­lice fail­ure to pro­vide dis­clo­sure to Mrs Teoko­tai prior to a de­po­si­tions hear­ing was a breach of their ‘‘le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity to dis­close all rel­a­tive ev­i­dence in a timely way and was un­rea­son­able and un­jus­ti­fied’’.

Con­sta­ble Ryan, who was on the Pu­nanga’s board dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­wise to mix his com­mit­tee re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with his po­lice re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

The po­lice han­dling of prop­erty seized was un­rea­son­able and un­jus­ti­fied. De­tec­tive Hawkins’ ac­tions were un­pro­fes­sional, con­trary to po­lice pol­icy and were un­rea­son­able, un­jus­ti­fied and un­de­sir­able. How­ever per­jury can­not be es­tab­lished.

Se­nior of­fi­cers in the Bay of Plenty District failed to alert the author­ity of the com­plaint as re­quired by law and there­fore acted un­law­fully.

The ap­point­ment of Se­nior Sergeant Greg Standen, the then of­fi­cer in charge of the Toko­roa Po­lice sta­tion to in­ves­ti­gate Mr White’s com­plaints was a con­flict of in­ter­est. The fail­ure to recog­nise this con­flict was poor judge­ment on the part of se­nior of­fi­cers in the Bay of Plenty District.

The in­ter­nal in­quiry con­ducted by the Bay of Plenty District lacked any sem­blance of in­de­pen­dence and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

Mr White’s com­plaints were to­tally mis­man­aged by se­nior of­fi­cers in the district.

It was also noted in the re­port that the four de­tec­tives in­volved in the in­quiry were not in­ter­viewed fol­low­ing Mr White’s first com­plaint.

‘‘It ap­pears that De­tec­tive Rudolph and Con­sta­ble Ryan may have re­fused an in­ter­view. In­ter­views with these mem­bers should have been cru­cial to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into

For­mer Toko­roa Po­lice of­fi­cer, David White, out­side his old sta­tion where of­fi­cers in­volved in the wrong­ful ar­rest of his mother-in-law still work. a com­plaint con­cern­ing the cred­i­bil­ity and in­de­pen­dence of the Toko­roa CIB.’’

The IPCA did not rec­om­mend any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion be con­sid­ered against the of­fi­cers in­volved.

South Waikato News has spo­ken with Po­lice Na­tional Head­quar­ters who have stated, ‘‘This mat­ter has been dealt with by the Bay of Plenty District and with the in­di­vid­ual of­fi­cers concerned.

‘‘It should be noted that the IPCA re­port did not re­com- mend any dis­ci­plinary ac­tion be con­sid­ered. The pas­sage of time would have pre­cluded the abil­ity to for­mally do so.

‘‘ Nev­er­the­less the is­sues raised in the IPCA Re­port have been ad­dressed with the in­di­vid­ual of­fi­cers.’’

The IPCA did not make pub­lic its find­ings be­cause the author­ity deemed the re­port not of suf­fi­cient pub­lic in­ter­est but Mr White, who has fought tire­lessly to clear his ‘‘mum’s’’ name, is of a dif­fer­ent opin­ion.

‘‘ This is in the pub­lic’s in­ter­est to know who these of­fi­cers are that bun­gled a straight­for­ward case. At ev­ery point dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions ir­re­versible mis­takes were made that should and could have been avoided. It makes you won­der how in­de­pen­dent the author­ity re­ally is.’’

Mr White, who is now tak­ing the mat­ter to the High Court de­scribes the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as child’s play.

‘‘A five-year-old could have done a bet­ter job than Rick (Rudolph)and his team did.

‘‘How Rick let this hap­pen when he had an op­por­tu­nity to pull the plug be­fore Mum’s ar­rest is de­plorable. I put a ma­jor­ity of the blame squarely on Rick’s shoul­ders, he ul­ti­mately had the author­ity to say whether the case can go ahead or not and he chose to let it go ahead. I ques­tion his de­tec­tive skills.

‘‘ I just want jus­tice for Mum,’’ Mr White said. ‘‘ She has gone through hell and back. It makes you won­der how many other peo­ple have gone through this and no one has ever found out.’’

Sev­eral calls to De­tec­tive Rick Rudolph and Con­sta­ble Shaun Ryan re­gard­ing the IPCA re­port were not re­turned. De­tec­tive Neville Hawkins con­tacted the South Waikato News but would not com­ment.

SLIP ‘ N’ SLIDE: Christ­mas came early to Man­gakino on Satur­day. The town hosted its an­nual Christ­mas pa­rade and fam­ily day. As well as the tra­di­tional pa­rade there were a range of fun ac­tiv­i­ties or­gan­ised for chil­dren as well as live mu­sic. Among those to get into the spirit of the day was Eva Stain­ton, pic­tured on the wa­ter slide set up for the day.

FIGHT­ING FOR JUS­TICE:

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