False rape claim: Teen serves 10 years

Lawyer ig­nored con­fes­sion, says ac­cuser’s carer

Weekend Herald - - News - Jared Sav­age

A teenage boy wrongly ac­cused of rape spent nearly 10 years in prison even though the so-called vic­tim con­fessed to mak­ing up the sex al­le­ga­tions shortly af­ter the trial.

The 17-year-old, Pa­trick*, was la­belled a “dan­ger­ous sex­ual preda­tor” by the judge who sen­tenced him to 4½ years in prison in 2005.

He was found guilty of mul­ti­ple sex­ual as­saults against an­other teenage boy, de­spite his adamant de­nials, in a trial where the jury also heard Pa­trick — a vic­tim of sex­ual abuse him­self — ad­mit­ted in­de­cently touch­ing a young girl.

Less than a year later, the teenage com­plainant, Mark*, ad­mit­ted to his Child Youth and Fam­ily care­givers he “made it all up”.

The care­giver, Pa­tri­cia Thrupp, quickly alerted Pa­trick’s lawyer Brandt Short­land.

“I was very clear to Mr Short­land that [Mark] had said to me that [Pa­trick] never raped him and I said that I was re­ally wor­ried that [Pa­trick] had taken the rap for some­thing he hadn’t done,” said Thrupp in her af­fi­davit to the Court of Ap­peal.

“I re­mem­ber Mr Short­land told me ‘I wouldn’t worry about it’ or words to that ef­fect. He said [Pa­trick] had nearly fin­ished his sen­tence and that he’s ‘a very sick boy’. Af­ter the con­ver­sa­tion ended, I left it at that. I be­lieved my in­volve­ment was at an end.” No ac­tion was taken and Pa­trick was re­peat­edly de­nied pa­role, osten­si­bly be­cause he con­tin­ued to protest his in­no­cence of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing Mark.

He served ev­ery day of his 4½-year sen­tence and, on his re­lease from prison in 2008, was sub­ject to strict con­di­tions un­der an Ex­tended Su­per­vi­sion Or­der.

Such or­ders al­low Cor­rec­tions to mon­i­tor high-risk of­fend­ers for up to 10 years, and re­call them to prison.

The Pa­role Board de­scribed his com­pli­ance as “ex­tremely poor” — 13 breaches by Oc­to­ber 2013 — and tight­ened his con­di­tions to in­clude GPS mon­i­tor­ing.

“He again painted him­self as the vic­tim and tried to talk down the ques­tion­ing board mem­ber to the point when we had no op­tion but to ad­journ the hear­ing,” the Pa­role Board re­port says.

None of the breaches were sex­ual and most were tech­ni­cal in na­ture, such as re­fus­ing to at­tend a group ther­apy ses­sion.

By the time the con­fes­sion came to light in 2015 — nearly 10 years af­ter Mark re­canted to his care­givers — Pa­trick was still in prison. He spent nearly as much time be­hind bars for ESO breaches as for the orig­i­nal rape sen­tence.

And the ev­i­dence which even­tu­ally cleared Pa­trick emerged only be­cause Mark made a com­pen­sa­tion claim against the Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment for abuse he suf­fered while in state care.

The MSD in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­ter­viewed Pa­tri­cia Thrupp and her part­ner Don McNaughton and their af­fi­davits were given to Phil Ham­lin, the bar­ris­ter act­ing on be­half of Pa­trick.

Each de­scribed in de­tail the same con­ver­sa­tion with Mark who re­canted his al­le­ga­tions against Pa­trick.

Ham­lin took the case to the Court of Ap­peal where the three se­nior judges de­scribed the cou­ple as cred­i­ble wit­nesses of “com­plete in­tegrity and forthright­ness”.

Short­land, who is now the Coro­ner in Whanga¯rei , also gave an af­fi­davit to the ap­peal.

“I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of that al­leged phone call with Ms Thrupp and a patchy me­mory, at best, on other de­tails,” said Short­land.

“I could not re­mem­ber many of the de­tails about the case in­clud­ing the al­le­ga­tion made in Ms Thrupp’s af­fi­davit, which I con­sider very se­ri­ous.”

In his af­fi­davit, Mark said he could not re­mem­ber re­cant­ing the al­le­ga­tions.

How­ever, the Court of Ap­peal was sat­is­fied a mis­car­riage of jus­tice had oc­curred.

Pa­trick’s con­vic­tions would have been quashed solely on the grounds the jury should not have heard two sets of com­plaints — the young girl and Mark — to­gether in the same trial.

The Court of Ap­peal said there was an­other “com­pelling” rea­son to over­turn the case.

The judges ac­cepted Mark re­canted the al­le­ga­tions to his care­givers, Thrupp and McNaughton, and said there was no doubt the con­fes­sion was gen­uine.

“Mr McNaughton and Ms Thrupp were well aware of the dy­nam­ics be­tween [Mark and Pa­trick], and well aware also that both were trou­bled young men. Yet both con­sid­ered [Mark] had gen­uinely re­canted his al­le­ga­tions.” The Court of Ap­peal also ac­cepted Thrupp did call Short­land about Mark’s re­can­ta­tion of the rape al­le­ga­tions.

“The fact that Mr Short­land took no steps in re­sponse is, to say the least, dis­ap­point­ing and most un­for­tu­nate.”

Short­land, who is also the Deputy Chief Coro­ner, de­clined to com­ment.

Pa­trick, who will turn 31 next month, is now free of the ESO con­di­tions. He is con­sid­er­ing lodg­ing a claim for com­pen­sa­tion for wrong­ful con­vic­tion.

Iron­i­cally, Pa­trick is also likely to claim for com­pen­sa­tion for phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse he suf­fered while in state care.

“I don’t re­ally care about the money. I just want some­one to be­lieve me. Then I can move on.”

* Pa­trick and Mark are not their real names which are sup­pressed.

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