Saturday, June 25, 2016

New Zealander jailed incorrectly for 22 years considering lump sum offer

No finger prints, DNA, or any other direct evidence linking Pora to the murder scene were produced in court -- but Pora was a troubled youth who said silly things when accused.  Details of the case here.  Via DNA, the real offender has been caught and jailed

HOW much would you expect to be paid for a year of your time? What if that year was spent in prison, away from family and friends?

That’s a question Teina Pora has been asking himself every year for 22 years while his 20s and 30s passed him by behind bars.

The New Zealand man, 41, was wrongly convicted in 1994 of the rape and murder of Susan Burdett, a woman who was beaten to death in her South Auckland home by an intruder with a baseball bat.

Pora’s wrongful conviction was overturned in March 2015. This week, the New Zealand government offered a lengthy apology and a lump sum of money. Pora is, at this very moment, considering whether it’s enough.

“The Crown accepts that you are innocent of the offences for which you were convicted in 1994,” Justice Minister Amy Adams said in a letter to Pora.

“I acknowledge that over the past two decades you have suffered, considerably, including the many years you spend away from your young daughter, as a direct result of your convictions and imprisonment. “To compensate you, the Crown has agreed to make an ex gratia payment to you of $2,520,949,42.”

The $2.5 million offer is “a considerable amount” less than the figure Pora’s lawyers were asking for. It is broken down in to two categories.

First, approximately $2.2 million of the money is for Pora’s non pecuniary losses — his loss of liberty for the 22 years of his wrongful imprisonment. That includes the loss of his relationship with his family, the inability to marry and, as his lawyer puts it, “to spend his 20s like the rest of us have been fortunate enough to do, and indeed his 30s”.

The remaining $300,000 is for Pora’s actual physical loss of income and a contribution to a loss of future income.

Ms Adams acknowledged the sum could “never completely” remedy the injustice. “I hope the offer of compensation can go some way in helping you and your family build a better future together,” she wrote.

The case has gripped New Zealand. It is, as local journalist Paula Penfold described it, “the biggest miscarriage of justice in New Zealand’s history”.  “Make no mistake ... If (the offer) is only in the vicinity of $2 million, I don’t think that is anywhere near enough,” Penfold told One News.

The issue of compensation is a complicated one and every party has an opinion.

Pora’s lawyers held a press conference earlier this week following the government’s official offer.  “(Teina) is aware of the offer on compensation and it is just that,” a lawyer for the 41-year-old said.

“It is an offer of compensation for Teina to accept or not. The reality is there’s very little that can be done, but I’m sure you can appreciate for anyone in this situation, it’s a significant moment and something that can’t be rushed in to.

“As you’ll be aware, the offer is approximately $2.5 million ... As counsel, we are disappointed with the quantum. You would’ve seen based on the material that has been distributed, that we sought a considerable amount more than has been offered.

“Of course it is a substantial amount of money. It’s more money than most people in New Zealand will ever have to their name. One can’t be ungracious ... but at the same time one can’t lose sight of the fact that this man suffered 22 years of incarceration in one form or another for crimes which he did not commit.”

Ms Burdett’s brother, Jim said: “(Compensation) is the least the government could do” but“I have no idea how you calculate 20 years of imprisonment that shouldn’t have happened.”

Original report here

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