Police record wiped 7 years on

JOHN EDENS AND BARBARA WITHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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A Central Otago woman's historic police diversion record has been expunged after she and her father battled the system for years.

This week Southern District Commander Superintendent Andrew Coster said Koren Potter's arrest in 2007 was unjustified and unfair.

She was charged with hindering police and received diversion. Last week Judge Kevin Phillips, in the Alexandra District Court, called for the record to be expunged.

Potter was in an Alexandra hotel with friends in February 2007 when Dairne Cassidy, a constable at the time, asked her for her details.

Potter's father, Steve Potter, said his daughter had already given her details to bar staff. She saw no reason to do so again and was arrested for refusing.

He said police produced a two-page disclosure statement the day after the arrest but one day before the first court appearance the disclosure was seven pages and she was charged with hindering police.

There was no court case but Potter paid a lawyer $300 and $200 to Victim Support for diversion.

Coster, in a statement, said Koren Potter was arrested for failing to provide her details but in the circumstances she was not legally obliged to give them.

There were anomalies with the arrest that were undetected at the time and she was offered and completed diversion.

A complaint to the Independent Police Conduct Authority led to a finding in 2011 that the arrest was unfair and unjustified and police accepted the finding, he said.

"For reasons that are unclear, actions were not taken at the time of (the authority's)  finding to correct the record about Koren's arrest.

"Police took steps to initiate a rehearing of the charge against Koren and offered no evidence, which led to its dismissal and corrected the court record."

It is not the first time Steve Potter has fought the police and won.

In 2005 Koren Potter was in a relationship with Shane Cribb, who at 17 was involved in a car crash with an unmarked police ute driven by former senior constable Neil Ford.

Cribb was wrongly convicted of careless driving causing injury and his conviction was eventually quashed after Steve Potter fought on his behalf.

Ford was convicted of perjury and the crash investigator, Dairne Cassidy, was convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

"This matter does have a connection with the Shane Cribb case and the conviction of two police officers in that it is part of the backdrop," Coster said.

"No systemic issues relating to the Alexandra sub-area were identified in the IPCA's review. The makeup of the sub-area has changed considerably over the past seven years and today police in Alexandra enjoy a strong relationship with the local community."

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Koren Potter, now working in Dunedin, said she was pleased with the court decision and would move on with her new partner and a clean slate.

Steve Potter said Coster had been marvellous.

Potter said he was pleased to close another part of the story. Filming has already taken place for the case to be included in a documentary series dealing with the New Zealand justice system.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 creates an obligation on persons suspected of committing an offence under the Act to supply details when asked by a member of police. Persons in licensed premises who are suspected of being under age will commonly be asked for their particulars and are obliged to provide them to police. This may extend to providing evidence of those particulars if police suspect the particulars provided are false.

- The Southland Times

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