Police shame for assaulted teenager

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014
CCTV

ATTACKED: CCTV footage of the altercation that left Roger Whioke in hospital.

Roger Whioke
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ
PERSISTANCE PAID OFF: Roger Whioke’s mother Andrea Jane refused to accept the injuries inflicted on the 19-year-old. 

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An "ashamed" Wellington police officer has apologised for failing to follow up an assault that put a young man in hospital - despite the incident being caught on camera.

Instead, the victim's mother had to gather evidence and make a formal complaint before police would take action.

Roger Whioke, 19, was assaulted after asking strangers in the apartment above his to stop spitting on his window.

He was left with concussion and broken teeth after being punched twice in the face about midnight on October 26 last year.

While shocked by the attack, he was more surprised when police did not follow the matter up.

Security footage from the apartment building stairwell obtained by the victim's mother, along with her Independent Police Conduct Authority complaint, led to charges being laid and an official apology.

Andrea Jane said police treated the incident as just another drunken Saturday night fight, but claims her son, who works as a commis chef at a five-star luxury hotel's restaurant, would not hurt a fly.

"Roger would never start a fight. He would do anything to get away from it. It made me so angry, so frustrated."

His injuries included a black eye, fractured nose, concussion, a strained neck, a swollen cheekbone and three broken teeth.

In Ms Jane's complaint she claimed police initially dismissed her son's injuries, suggesting he provoked a fight.

Frustrated, she investigated further.

Security footage she uploaded to the internet shows a crowd of people in the apartment building stairwell and Mr Whioke entering a lift, where he is followed by another man. The footage shows Mr Whioke place a bottle on the ground. He then receives two punches to the face.

Mr Whioke is shown flying back at the other man but the crowd holds them apart.

Ms Jane passed the footage to police and laid her complaint.

"I am now trying to raise 14 and 15-year-old girls with the understanding that when you do something wrong there are consequences. And that if anyone ever hurts you ‘ring the police'," she wrote.

"Now we are all wondering why? Nothing might happen."

Mr Whioke said he had lost faith in police. "I think they just saw me as another drunken student out drinking on a usual Saturday night . . . they thought I was just one of those guys off to start a fight."

The constable Mr Whioke complained about wrote an official apology to Ms Jane saying he was sorry for not listening to her.

"I am ashamed that had you not pushed for an investigation your son's [alleged] attacker would not have been held to account. I admire and respect your persistence."

The young man who allegedly threw the punches twice reached out to Mr Whioke through online comments, calling his own actions "way out of line".

Police spokesman Nicholas Bohm said junior Constable Richard Briscoe had since received extra training.

A 19-year-old appeared in Wellington District Court on Friday charged with assault with intent to injure.

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His lawyer, Val Nisbet, applied for diversion. Mr Bohm said police opposed the application and he was remanded to reappear in court this month where he may face a lesser charge of common assault. Mr Nisbet declined to comment while the matter was before the courts.

- The Dominion Post

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