Po­lice ‘fail­ings’ led to killing - fam­ily

The Southland Times - - NEWS - TOMMY LIV­INGSTON

The fam­ily of slain woman Jo Pert says the po­lice have been ‘‘let off the hook’’ fol­low­ing a crit­i­cal re­port into how of­fi­cers dealt with the man who fa­tally stabbed her.

On Jan­uary 7, 2016, the 41-year-old mother of two was killed while out jog­ging in the Auck­land sub­urb of Re­muera.

An In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Con­duct Author­ity re­port, re­leased yes­ter­day, has crit­i­cised po­lice for ‘‘fail­ings and er­rors of judg­ment’’ after they stopped and ques­tioned the men­tally un­sta­ble Te­vita Mafi Filo hours be­fore he killed Pert.

The re­port noted a po­lice dis­patcher failed to pass on cru­cial in­for­ma­tion to the of­fi­cers, which might have re­sulted in Filo’s ar­rest.

How­ever, Pert’s fam­ily be­lieve the re­port falls short of hold­ing po­lice to ac­count for her death.

And a fam­ily friend, and for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, said the flaws ‘‘di­rectly contributed’’ to her death.

‘‘The more I read the re­port and the find­ings, the more as­tound­ing and ar­ro­gant I find the fi­nal com­ments which say the flaws didn’t con­trib­ute to Jo’s death.

‘‘They di­rectly contributed to her death and for the po­lice to say that de­spite the find­ings, they will not be look­ing at a re­view of their pro­ce­dures is as­tound­ing,’’ he said.

The po­lice have said they will not be re­view­ing their pro­cesses in light of the re­port, and that there is no link to be drawn be­tween po­lice ac­tions in­volv­ing Filo on Jan­uary 6 and Pert’s death the fol­low­ing day.

Two com­plaints were laid with the author­ity after it was re­vealed po­lice found Filo with a knife, stalk­ing a cou­ple with the in­ten­tion of killing them, the night be­fore he at­tacked Pert.

They con­fis­cated the knife but let him go.

The next morn­ing Filo, armed with a sec­ond knife, killed Pert while she was out run­ning.

The author­ity found ‘‘fail­ings and er­rors of judg­ment’’ by the po­lice who dealt with Filo that night, say­ing po­lice ‘‘should have made fur­ther in­quiries’’ when deal­ing with Filo.

How­ever, it was not pre­pared to di­rectly link the po­lice’s re­fusal to ar­rest or take Filo in for ques­tion­ing with Pert’s death.

Pert’s killing was the most vi­o­lent act in a se­ries of sex­u­ally mo­ti­vated as­saults by Filo over a pe­riod of 17 hours.

Pert’s fam­ily, who laid the first IPCA com­plaint, re­sponded to the re­port’s find­ings:

‘‘We are pleased that the IPCA has rightly con­cluded that there were fail­ings and er­rors of judg­ment on the part of the po­lice who dealt with Filo only hours be­fore he mur­dered Jo. We note that, be­cause the IPCA felt it was not pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine one way or the other what might have hap­pened if the po­lice had acted ap­pro­pri­ately, it was not pre­pared to draw a link be­tween the po­lice ac­tions that evening and Jo’s mur­der.

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

Filo was di­ag­nosed as schiz­o­phrenic, com­pli­cated by late-stage re­nal fail­ure for which he’d been re­ceiv­ing reg­u­lar dial­y­sis treat­ments since he was a teenager.

He was charged with the mur­der of Pert but at a hear­ing last year was found not guilty by rea­son of in­san­ity and was com­mit­ted as a spe­cial pa­tient.

The IPCA re­port found the two of­fi­cers who stopped Filo should have made ‘‘fur­ther in­quiries’’ when deal­ing with him, and that the po­lice dis­patcher did not pass on all the avail­able in­for­ma­tion.

How­ever, the IPCA de­ter­mined it is not pos­si­ble to draw any link be­tween po­lice ac­tions on 6 Jan­uary 2016 and Pert’s death.

The re­port noted the two po­lice of­fi­cers pulled Filo’s ve­hi­cle over, not­ing he was act­ing ‘‘strange’’ and ‘‘re­ally, re­ally weird’’.

Mean­while the po­lice dis­patcher con­ducted a ve­hi­cle check, which re­vealed Filo’s ve­hi­cle was wanted for an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a theft from a shop.

How­ever, she did not re­call see­ing that in­for­ma­tion and did not pass it on to the of­fi­cers deal­ing with Filo.

Filo told the of­fi­cers he had a knife ‘‘be­cause it makes me feel safe’’. They seized the knife, and ques­tioned Filo on why he had been fol­low­ing the cou­ple’s car.

Filo told po­lice he had got lost get­ting home – an ex­pla­na­tion the of­fi­cers ac­cepted.

The of­fi­cers let Filo go, and fol­lowed him for a few kilo­me­tres to make sure he did not try to find the cou­ple.

Jo Pert

Te­vita Mafi Filo

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