1 Nov 2023

Murder trial aborted over police mistakes to be reheard

6:31 pm on 1 November 2023
Auckland High Court, District Court, High Court, Crest, Coat of Arms, court, courts

Delays and problems around disclosing evidence have contributed to a logjam in the district courts. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

A police botch-up that derailed a murder trial has been looked into and the trial is set to be reheard.

In late July, the police's late disclosure of photos and notebooks led to a murder trial of three men at the High Court in Auckland being aborted.

Police told RNZ on Wednesday they had since completed two reviews of the case.

They aimed to ensure their disclosure processes and training provided "the platform for file managers to comply with all statutory requirements".

"The issues identified have been mitigated via Crown Law and the homicide trial is set to be reheard in the Auckland High Court early next year."

They weighed up what they did against disclosure guidelines laid out by a High Court Disclosure Working Group, but did not go into details.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority had also been notified.

Police said they were following up with a national review into how they handled the disclosure of evidence.

Meanwhile, Crown Law said today the statement that it has mitigated issues in the case was in fact a reference to police working with the Auckland Crown Solicitor's office to address any outstanding disclosure that needed to occur.

"Crown Law has been advised by the Auckland Crown Solicitor that police have conducted a full audit of disclosure previously provided and they have resolved any identified deficiencies in that disclosure. The case has a new firm trial date of 7 February 2024."

Delays and problems around disclosing evidence have [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/501399/police-aim-to-beef-up-court-prosecution-resources-with-26m-plan contributed to a logjam in the district courts, where defence lawyers left uncertain around disclosure have been increasingly opting for jury trials - instead of more streamlined judge-only trials - to keep their defendants' options open, according to police documents.

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