Paedophile easily got jobs among children
JOHN HARTEVELT AND ANDREA VANCE
People "looked the other way" and allowed a convicted paedophile to work among children at six different schools over six years, a ministerial inquiry has found.
The report into the case of Te Rito Henry Miki, led by former ombudsman Mel Smith, was released yesterday.
It found "several factors" besides Miki's "personal duplicity" had allowed his "relatively easy entry to teaching positions" despite dozens of criminal convictions, including for an indecent assault on a 14-year-old boy.
Education Minister Hekia Parata insisted "system failures rather than people failures" were to blame.
But Smith last night said there were "both system failings and human failings" in the case.
"I identified the systems failings, the human failings and then provided opportunities to rectify those," he said.
"There were people who knew his background and looked the other way."
Smith said he had "some concerns" that "some people knew his background but still employed him" but had been unable to confirm those.
His report said there had been a "failure of knowledgeable individuals to advise relevant authorities of Miki's probable identity and criminal history" and a "willingness of individuals to pretend ignorance as to his real and stolen identities".
"It just didn't happen within the police," he said.
"I found it difficult to understand how he could pull the wool over experienced probation officers' eyes but, nevertheless, that's what happened."
A new 24-hour satellite surveillance programme for high-risk offenders would have prevented Miki's offending, he said.
While under an extended supervision order for his offending, Miki used a fake CV and birth certificate to gain employment during the six years to January 2012 in six North Island schools.
In 2009, he was arrested on the grounds of a Tauranga school where he had been working, only to go on to work at another school in Auckland.
After accumulating 53 fake identities, Miki was finally arrested in February this year and pleaded guilty in April to seven charges of fraud and four counts of breaching parole conditions.
The report pinpointed Miki's arrest at Tauranga as one of several missed opportunities to eliminate him from teaching.
The Tauranga school's principal had "erroneously assumed" his arrest would get to the Teachers Council via the police.
One "diligent" Tauranga constable, a former teacher, had also "located all the information needed to expose Miki, but was deterred" by a lack of the necessary paperwork.
"It was clear that potentially useful information about Miki was lost because at least one concerned person was put off by overly dogmatic bureaucracy," the report found.
Teachers Council director Peter Lind said the council had been let down.
"Not only had the principal not reported to us, the courts hadn't reported to us nor had New Zealand Police reported to us," he said.
However, the people involved should get "the benefit of the doubt" and the fault lay with the systems.
"Yes, they should have done that. But then we also need to say what is it that we need to do to ensure that we don't get another Miki slipping through the cracks," Lind said.
Parata said the case provided a "very serious wake-up call" for the whole state sector.
The Government had accepted or partially accepted 36 of the 39 actions recommended by the inquiry. Three were still being considered, including for biometric photographic evidence to be required for all teachers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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