For­mer po­lice of­fi­cer speaks out

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

For­mer Toko­roa Po­lice of­fi­cer and for­mer South Waikato District councillor Dean Ria has com­mended David White and the Teoko­tai fam­ily for their courage and per­se­ver­ance.

This comes in the wake of a South Waikato News ar­ti­cle on three Toko­roa Po­lice of­fi­cers crit­i­cised in an In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Con­duct Author­ity re­port.

The re­port was in re­la­tion to the 2005 ar­son and al­leged fraud at St Luke’s Ta­mariki and Mokop­una Apii Pu­nanga.

Toko­roa JP Mii Teoko­tai was un­law­fully ar­rested and charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit ar­son. The charges were dropped when po­lice could not of­fer any ev­i­dence. South Waikato News ap­proached Mr Ria who was present at a num­ber of Mrs Teoko­tai’s court hear­ings and he said he was dis­ap­pointed the mat­ter de­vel­oped the way it did.

‘‘ I be­lieve the po­lice did not in­ves­ti­gate this mat­ter thor­oughly be­cause if they had no charges would have ever been laid. This is sub­stan­ti­ated by the fact the po­lice did not of­fer a shred of ev­i­dence at the de­po­si­tions hear­ing.’’

Mr Ria knows his speak­ing out will in­evitably cost him some re­la­tion­ships within the force but he feels it is the right thing to do.

‘‘ The big is­sue here is the on­go­ing po­lice in­abil­ity to ac­knowl­edge that this in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the sub­se­quent com­plaint file were in­her­ently flawed and han­dled poorly.

‘‘We all make mis­takes and had the po­lice done the right thing and ac­knowl­edged this at an early stage then this mat­ter would not have es­ca­lated to where it is now – a scathing re­port, neg­a­tive na­tion­wide me­dia and the po­ten­tial for the New Zealand Po­lice to be sued and all of­fi­cers in­volved sum­monsed to ap­pear in the High Court.

‘‘There is an ob­ject les­son here for all of us – if you make a mis­take, front up, ac­knowl­edge it and sort it out early.’’

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