Tok police under fire
Mum’s treatment angers ex-cop
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: