Killer’s han­dling comes un­der fire

Of­fi­cial re­port crit­i­cal of mis­takes made by the po­lice in Pert case, but they are cleared as friends, fam­ily fume

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS - Lyn­ley Bilby

Aformer po­lice of­fi­cer says it is “un­be­liev­able” that an of­fi­cial re­port found no link be­tween po­lice mis­takes in let­ting an armed killer off with a warn­ing and his fa­tal at­tack on an Auck­land jog­ger the next day.

Po­lice were yes­ter­day crit­i­cised but cleared over their han­dling of the man who killed jog­ger Jo Pert. The In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Con­duct Au­thor­ity said po­lice of­fi­cers should have made more in­quiries when deal­ing with Te­vita Filo on Jan­uary 6. They also found a po­lice dis­patcher did not pass on all the avail­able in­for­ma­tion but stopped short mak­ing any con­nec­tion with Filo’s killing of Pert the fol­low­ing day. An ex-po­lice­man and close friend of Pert, who laid a com­plaint over the way po­lice dealt with Filo be­fore he killed her, slammed the find­ings as “un­be­liev­able” and “con­tra­dic­tory”. He and Pert’s fam­ily be­lieve if Filo had been ar­rested the night be­fore, he would not have been free to roam the city’s streets the next day and kill the Auck­land mum as she jogged on Shore Rd, Re­muera. On Jan­uary 6 a mo­torist called 111 to say he had been fol­lowed from St He­liers to How­ick. Within min­utes two of­fi­cers stopped Filo and spoke to him at the road­side. They said Filo was act­ing “strange” and “re­ally, re­ally weird”. The of­fi­cers also no­ticed a knife in his car. Mean­while, the po­lice dis­patcher checked Filo’s car and found it was wanted af­ter a theft from a shop. How­ever, she did not re­call see­ing that in­for­ma­tion and did not pass it on to the of­fi­cers. Nor did she pass on fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about Filo’s dis­turb­ing be­hav­iour the mo­torist had re­ported. The of­fi­cers seized the knife and warned Filo. He de­nied he had been fol­low­ing any­one, and the of­fi­cers ac­cepted his ex­pla­na­tions for his ac­tions, even though they were con­tra­dic­tory and im­plau­si­ble. The au­thor­ity said Filo’s be­hav­iour and pos­ses­sion of the knife should have prompted the of­fi­cers to make fur­ther in- quiries with the dis­patcher be­fore de­cid­ing what to do.

“[That] would have led them to in­ter­ro­gate Mr Filo about the rea­sons for his ac­tions. In the ab­sence of a more plau­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion, they might have ar­rested him and taken him to the sta­tion,” said au­thor­ity chair­man Judge Colin Do­herty.

A fam­ily mem­ber and an ex­po­lice­man friend of Pert both com­plained to the au­thor­ity about how po­lice han­dled Filo the night be­fore the mur­der.

Filo was not ar­rested on Jan­uary 6, de­spite be­ing found stalk­ing a cou­ple and with a large knife in his pos­ses­sion.

Jus­tice Mur­ray Gilbert found Filo not guilty by rea­son of in­san­ity for Pert’s mur­der and of 12 other al­leged crimes in the 17 hours be­fore and af­ter her death, be­cause he was in­ca­pable of un­der­stand­ing his ac­tions were morally wrong due to his schizophre­nia.

The charges in­clude fol­low­ing a cou­ple in their car from St He­liers to East Ta­maki on Jan­uary 6.

But the ex-po­lice­man said it was hard not to con­clude that po­lice short­com­ings didn’t con­trib­ute to Pert’s death.

“Had the at­tend­ing of­fi­cers been sup­plied all the in­for­ma­tion, I’m of the be­lief that they would have un­doubt­edly ar­rested Filo that night and there­fore it is very un­likely he would have killed Jo the next morn­ing be­cause he would have been locked up.”

He was now con­sid­er­ing ap­peal­ing the de­ci­sion and ea­ger to hear the coroner’s find­ings.

Coun­ties Manukau District Com­man­der Su­per­in­ten­dent Jill Rogers said staff in the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Cen­tre and on the ground had to make quick de­ci­sions in a fast-paced and chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

They were en­cour­aged to use dis­cre­tion and road­side warn­ings were com­mon for a va­ri­ety of of­fences.

“Staff had to make a de­ci­sion based on one in­ter­ac­tion with Filo. They could not have fore­seen what was go­ing to hap­pen. It is nat­u­ral to try and ra­tio­nalise what he did, but we now know that Te­vita Filo was a very un­well man,” said Rogers.

Po­lice had also re­viewed of­fi­cers’ ac­tions but did not be­lieve any changes were nec­es­sary.

“Sadly, the two of­fi­cers who dealt with him dur­ing one road­side en­counter on that night did not have the ben­e­fit of hind­sight and could not have fore­seen the ter­ri­ble events which fol­lowed.”

The find­ing has come as a blow to the dead woman’s fam­ily, who told Fair­fax had the po­lice ar­rested him Jo would still be alive.

“We think this is a weak con­clu­sion to ‘get the boys off the hook’, ” said the fam­ily. “We strongly be­lieve that, had the po­lice done their job that night there is a good chance that Jo would still be alive.”

They fam­ily said the re­port showed po­lice had had the op­por­tu­nity to thwart the deadly course of events.

Auck­land jog­ger Jo Pert (left) was killed by Te­vita Filo (above), who was stopped by po­lice the pre­vi­ous day.

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