Case of Kiwi jailed for 45 years taken to UN

Last updated 10:17 26/08/2014

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The case of an intellectually disabled New Zealander detained for 45 of the past 46 years is being taken to the United Nations.

Human rights lawyer Tony Ellis, who has taken on the 58-year-old's case, is arguing that, while his client needs to be detained, he has served his time in jail and should be an an intellectual disability unit.

''But the trouble is there's about 60 places nationwide and about 150 capable of filling [them].

''The man, who has an IQ of about 55, was originally detained in a psychiatric institution 46 years ago when he was 12 or 13 years old for a sexually-related incident for which details remained unclear.

"He spent 26 years in a psychiatric institution before a law change in the early 1990s saw the man released.

But he was ''institutionalised'' and with no support in the outside world, Ellis said.

The man was ''a disaster waiting to happen''.

Within about a year, he was in jail for two sexual offences. Despite his minimum non-parole period being up a decade ago, the man remained in jail.

According to the United Nations, the man was now in a category in which he had served his punishment and was now being detained for the protection of the public, Ellis said.

According to the UN, he should no longer be detained any longer in the same conditions as a prison.

The man, who cannot be publicly named, was in a low security prison in the North Island, Ellis said.

He had asked a special UN group - set up specially to look at arbitrary detention - to look into the alleged human rights breaches.

He expected the group to get its findings back within six months.If favourable, it would not force New Zealand authorities to release the man but the finding could be influential in getting a New Zealand court to grant compensation or the man's release to an  intellectual disability unit. 

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