Pressure builds for National to review their Pora compensation

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It could not be any clearer. Mr Pora spent 21 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. He has lived more than half his adult life behind bars.

He has been separated from his daughter, subjected to the harshness of imprisonment, defined by the justice system as a murderer and twice convicted of slaying a woman in a home he had not set foot in. In New Zealand judicial history, Mr Pora’s case ranks among the worst miscarriages of justice. On that ground alone, those with the task of reaching a fair and just settlement need to temper their accounting with compassion.

Yet despite months of freedom, and a report by a retired High Court judge which found unequivocably that a different man was solely responsible for the heinous rape and murder of Susan Burdett, Mr Pora finds himself still fighting the state to show an element of decency.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has pointed out that the Cabinet guidelines, used to strike the amount mentioned in the statement of apology – $2,520,949.20 – did not provide for inflation. The guidelines are, however, discretionary.

The starting point under the arrangements is $100,000 a year. The actual sum in the case of Mr Pora was reached, it appears, by multiplying the base amount by the years he spent behind bars with an additional $300,000 to cover pecuniary losses for income he could not earn.

Taking inflation into account, it has been suggested the payment would be around $4.5 million. The minister and her colleagues could easily put the guidelines to one side and revisit the matter, before it has to deal with David Bain’s compensation case. A report about Mr Bain’s claim has been with ministers for some months, with no sign of a decision being reached. Justice Rodney Hansen found Mr Pora innocent on the balance of probabilities – the test for compensation – adding that “he could have proved his innocence to an even higher standard”.

Mr Bain, who spent 13 years in jail before a jury in a retrial found him not guilty of the murder of five family members, has been the focus of a compensation process which started four years ago. He too deserves answers sooner rather than later.

The matter of Mr Pora is cut and dried. He is an innocent man. The Cabinet accepts that. In the interests of justice and fairness, it should revise its offer. That is a simple way in which this stain on the administration of justice can start to fade.

I appreciate that precedents can be set by paying too much, but compensating someone who has 21 years of his life stolen at the level of the “guidelines” does seem extremely light. It is, in fact, the absolute minimum the government can get away with. If nothing else, there is no component of regret or compensation in that amount, and that’s unlikely to satisfy anyone but the most stone-hearted.

Or, the government correctly understands the public sentiment, which is that no one cares – except the Media party. Everyone, except the Media party, knows that Teina Pora was no angel. Sure he was a drop kick and sure he was fitted up by his own stupidity but, the reality is, this guy was a Mongrel Mob prospect, probably still associates with the Mongrel Mob and we have only been presented with the information given by the media. Basically, I believe that no one really cares and this will soon be forgotten except for a few crim-hugging media luvvies who invested their now defunct careers on this guy.

 

– NZ Herald

 


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  • Dave

    a different perspective. Lets take several other intellectually impared gang prospects with similar Skill sets as Pora from around that time, and calculate their net worth today. There is a good starting point for lost income opportunities. I also mention these luvvies think 100K a year, well, even if he earnt that in the real world, he would have been paying for health care, TAX, entertainment, groceries, rent and so on, which he didn’t as he was locked up. I doubt any of his friends have as much as $200K net worth now, if any. Then, it is appropriate to look at how much he should get for loss of opportunity, to see his whanau, be able to go here or there, and I offer no opinion on how to calculate that. I finish with, how do we even know if he would be alive today IF he was not in prison, he was headed for a life with the gangs!

    • Brian Dingwall

      Yes I struggle too with the logic. The relevant amount, it seems to me is that sum which, if I am offered it in exchange for voluntary loss of liberty for a year, or to stay at large, I am indifferent (ie a year inside plus dosh is exactly equal to a year of liberty). Whatever that amount is today (and I dont know how to assess this), surely if applied back over the 20 odd years it is already inflation adjusted?

  • Boondecker

    I see it more that the ones encouraging Pora, through the media mind you, to go for more are likely the same crim-hugging luvvie types that are still angling for some sort of compo for David Bain and, no doubt, Scott Watson as well. It’s becoming a bit of an industry for some with too much time and / or media-delivery facilities on their hands.

    Always felt that Pora, once it became public knowledge that it was Malcolm Rewa’s DNA that was found all over the crime scene, should have been freed and charged with wasting police time, but he was obviously disadvantaged by his own considerable lack of intelligence and spent many more years behind bars than was necessary. Years that have cost the taxpayer.

  • sarahmw

    The question is, did he take the fall for rewa? Some in his family thought him guilty also. This is NOT a case of someone being fitted up for the crime, he appeared to be part of the crime. Large chunks of this case are being left out deliberately I feel. I believe 2.5 is sufficient but sadly I can see it being diminished rapidly when the hands go out.

    • BG

      Come on. The DNA testing completely exonerated him from the crime and there was evidence of family members being paid to testify against him. This was poor police work pure and simple.

  • Ford

    All fair enough, but when the Teina Pora case is finally settled, how about tackling the Peter Ellis debacle!

  • Keanne Lawrence

    The quandary is “nett ” worth or “nit’ worth?

  • Usaywot

    Curious question? Do the lawyers get more if Pora gets more?

    • NahYeah

      No, the lawyers get more if he appeals the amount. Hence the lawyers have advised him to appeal the amount.

      • Usaywot

        I thought there must be an ulterior motive. When I heard they were suggesting $8m I couldn’t believe it. I think the settlement offered is fair. He can buy a good home and car and live off the rest for the rest of his life….if it’s wisely invested and he doesn’t blow it. What would happen if he blew it?

        • STAG

          He’s blown every other aspect of his life and the state has supported him, when he blows though his compensation the state will again step in with the Dole and a nice newer then mine State House.

  • Cadwallader

    Given the media we have Mr Pora is unwittingly now a pawn in yet another slam of the government. This is a tragic story and needs to be evaluated for what it is and not a criticism of the government. If Mr Pora has any guilt in this crime it will be brushed over in the media’s hunger to get the government.It wouldn’t have mattered how many $$$ were paid to Mr Pora the media would’ve started their reporting as they did: “Is it enough?” Mr Pora was pleased with his apology has it been published anywhere? If the $$$ are revisited so be it, but the quantum needs to be measurable against principles and not as a reflection of the clamour expressed by the media.

  • Andrew Gibson

    I’m guessing the 100k per year was set up to EXCLUDE all political considerations and side line commentaries. For every comment about gang associations there are others about Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and police incompetence.

  • Plantagenet

    2.5. million seems a good sum to me. I accept he was wrongfully jailed but nothing can reverse that fact unless Dr Who gets involved. No amount of money will ever reverse it. How much do the media want? 10 million? Are there lawyers who did pro bono work who now want to be compensated? I suspect more than just altruism and ‘outrage’ at injustice is at work here.

  • Cookie Bear

    The big question and Phil Goff has a lot to answer on this one..what about compensation for Peter Ellis? His life was destroyed by corrupt parents, cops and other Govt agencies????

  • Teletubby

    Does the private investigator who I understand was the driving force in correcting this wrong get paid by anyone for the massive amount of time he put into it? Should the government be compensating him as well?

    • Cadwallader

      PI fees are paid out of the lawyers’ monies. I think $135K is a modest sum when all costs are included in it. I don’t understand why any lawyers bother to do cases on legal-aid it is a very shallow pocket.

  • JohnO

    In a compensation case such as this their should be an apportionment of responsibility for the wrong conviction and compensation paid relative to who caused the problem. I believe Pora was 75% responsible for his own incarceration and the compensation amount should be reduced by that much. 2.5 million x 25% = $625,000.

  • Curly1952

    Should be the compensation less the cost of his keep by the prison. Isn’t that cost about $60k a year? I wonder how much he would have earned if he was to become a gang member and how much he would have cost society with the gangs anti social behaviour such as drugs etc.
    There are any number law abiding citizens that do a tremendous amount of goodness in the community for no reward. $2.5m to each if those should be considered.

  • contractor

    There is no price ultimately on loss of freedom to live ones life. In his case there is no reason as some suggest that his compo should relate to his earing potential.

    As a tax payer believing in true justice I think he deserves double and the calculation should have a compounding factor for the long period of incarceration.

  • Pete

    The closing paragraph of the post nails it for me. The matter was considered by an experienced Judge, then deliberated by Cabinet. A decision was finalised. Justice Minister Adams made good sense to me when listening to her discussion on it.

    The media spent a day speculating on it prior to the announcement. They have stirred up some useless negativity and unhelpful comment. They have done enough damage on this topic for me.

    I am satisfied with the decision made by Cabinet on the matter.

  • omlete

    $2m or even $4m is probably quite a good investment, because if he’d been on the street for the past 20 years he surely would have done a lot more damage than that.

    • Wheninrome

      And he is now back on the street, I wonder what the future holds, all will be revealed. I am sure the cost to the taxpayer of this individual has not stopped.

  • RobT

    Haven’t seen whether anyone is going to step in and help this chap hold onto his payout?
    Correct me please if I’m wrong….but with that sort of money and his propensity to get things a little wrong in life. How long will it be before he gets fleeced and stitched into someone’s get rich scheme? I will bet they’re already lining up to get their hands on his compo!

  • digby

    The indexation of his pay out should be based on what has happened to the disposable income of the average kiwi since it was set at 100K. My expectation is that the real disposable income of your average joe has diminished since the 100k was set.

  • Larry

    How much money would a middle class white guy with the ability to go to university get? And what would his net worth be now? And is either question relevant?

  • papagaya

    It’s an issue which will not affect the government’s standing in the slightest.

  • Scratchings

    Apparently he had quite a career going as a car thief. As one who has had his car stolen (and, incidentally, vandalised to be a writeoff in just two hours) I think that cumulatively serving the prison terms I would have imposed for just the car thefts he’d still be in there for quite a while yet. Just saying.

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