Wrong man held in cells

ROBIN RAYMOND
Last updated 12:25 13/11/2012

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A Blenheim man spent two nights in police cells at the weekend after another man falsely gave police his name.

The men are believed to be related.

Vaiola Fuapau was arrested about 6.40pm on Saturday on a warrant for failing to appear in court. However, he was released about 10.30am yesterday after the situation was explained to Judge Susan Thomas in Blenheim District Court.

When Fuapau appeared in court yesterday, police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Lucas said it appeared the wrong man had been locked up.

He believed the person police had been looking for was Fuapau's nephew, who had given police a false name when he was arrested in September and charged with entering a building with intent to commit a crime and resisting police.

Defence lawyer Rennie Gould said in court yesterday Fuapau told police when he was arrested on Saturday they had the wrong man, and if they checked their file photos of the suspect they would see it wasn't him.

Fuapau had contacted Blenheim lawyer Rob Harrison, who had also asked police to check they had the right man, she said.

Gould said she would be talking to Fuapau about laying a complaint over his arrest.

Lucas told the judge he would give the file back to the officer in charge of the investigation to make sure Fuapau was the wrong man and to investigate further. The judge asked several times whether it was the right person in the dock before telling Fuapau he was being released.

The warrant for his arrest was also withdrawn and no warrant was issued for his nephew.

Tasman police communications manager Barbara Dunn said they were looking into the matter, but she was not able to comment further yesterday.

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- The Marlborough Express

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