Victim of perjury 'stoked' by report

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

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The wait is finally over for the man at the centre of a police perjury case.

Shane Cribb, 26, told The Southland Times from Hamilton yesterday he was "stoked" with the Independent Police Conduct Authority findings into the police handling of a crash investigation and its aftermath.

In the 80-page report, the authority criticises the multiple failings by Southern District police, which it says enabled the criminal conduct of two officers to go undiscovered following a car crash near Alexandra nine years ago, involving a police officer and Cribb who at the time was 17.

However, the authority found no evidence of a conspiracy among the officers overseeing the crash investigation.

The authority also apologises in the report for its failure to investigate and resolve the complaint in a timely manner.

"I am definitely stoked with the outcome. Pretty much the hardest thing has been how long it took. You are just always waiting," Cribb said.

IPCA chairman Sir David Carruthers said the authority's investigation found multiple failings by the police, including a lack of adequate supervision and leadership, and a failure to critically examine evidence and remedy deficiencies identified during the investigation.

Police also failed to address concerns about the crash investigation in a timely manner.

"These inactions resulted in police not uncovering the truth about the crash for over two years, causing much undue stress to Mr Cribb and his supporters."

The authority found police failures in addressing concerns about the crash investigation caused unacceptable and unjustified delays. The authority also contributed to delays and has changed its processes to ensure it completes investigations more quickly than it has done in the past.

Southern District commander Superintendent Andrew Coster said police acknowledged there were several levels of failure at the time in the way the crash was initially managed and during the investigations that followed, which led to the wrongful conviction of Mr Cribb.

"Police let Mr Cribb down badly, and to go some way to resolving this, we have apologised to him and provided compensation.

"Police accept that without the persistence of those members of the public who supported Mr Cribb, police would not have reinvestigated the case to uncover the truth about how the crash occurred . . . It goes without saying that staff involved could have done many things better, and lessons have been learnt since then."

TIMELINE:

July 14, 2005: Car crash occurs on Earnscleugh Rd, near Alexandra, between an unmarked police ute driven by Senior Constable Neil Ford and a car driven by Shane Cribb. Constable Dairne Cassidy was appointed to investigate the crash.

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2006: Shane Cribb is wrongly convicted for careless driving causing injury.

Since January 2006: The authority received several letters alleging police unfairly and unjustly attached the blame for the crash to Cribb.

2008: A rehearing is ordered on the basis of new evidence and careless driving charges against Cribb are dropped.

2010: A court finds Senior Constable Neil Ford guilty of perjury and he is sentenced to two years and four months jail and ordered to pay $10,000 reparation to Mr Cribb.

2010: Constable Dairne Olwen Cassidy pleads guilty to perverting the course of justice by hiding evidence that could have been vital in the investigation and is sentenced to seven months' home detention.

2014: Independent Police Conduct Authority releases its findings into a complaint over police handling of the crash investigation. 

- The Southland Times

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