Roast Busters petition handed to MPs

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 15:01 21/11/2013

A 110,000-strong petition calling for justice for the alleged victims of the Roast Busters group has been received at Parliament.

Roast Busters
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ROAST BUSTERS: Two members of the group Joseph Parker, 18, and Beraiah Hales, 17.

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Police say they are "making steady progress" in the investigation into the Roast Busters case and are speaking with a number of girls.

It comes on the same day as a 110,000-strong petition calling for justice for the alleged victims group was received at Parliament.

The so-called Roast Busters are a group of West Auckland youths, understood to be aged 17 and 18, who allegedly had group sex with drunk teenage girls and bragged about it online.

It was revealed four girls had come forward over incidents involving the group between 2011 and 2012.

Police have come under fire over their handling of the case, particularly since it emerged one of the four - aged between 13 and 15 - had laid a formal complaint two years ago but investigations went nowhere.

"This is a very delicate and careful process and at this time our priority is the privacy, health and well-being of the girls, their families and caregivers," Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, head of the investigation, said today.

"We're also very mindful of the fact that it's exam time, and we've been working around these commitments to ensure anyone who speaks to us is able to do that at a convenient time for them."

Malthus said police were also offering the girls access to support services.

Auckland mother Jessie Hume delivered her petition to Wellington today, where it was received at Parliament by MPs from both sides of the House.

Hume said the Government had not taken the Roast Busters case seriously enough.

"One in four women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. John Key was elected promising to give victims of crime 'the support they deserve' and yet a third of sexual violence victims services have been forced to cut support and staff due to government funding cuts.

"The Government has also scrapped specialised pre-trial services for rape victims."

She said the cuts had made it worse for victims of sexual assault.

"My message to Mr Key is that more than 110,000 New Zealanders say it's time to deliver on your promise - fund sexual violence services properly and fix the system that's failing rape victims," Hume said.

Green MP Jan Logie said the outpouring of grief showed it was time for the Government to take action.

"Our shared outrage at the lack of justice for recent victims of sexual abuse can be harnessed to create real change for all victims.

"The solutions we need are secure funding for education and support services, and a stronger justice system," she said.

One of the MPs to receive the petition was National's Louise Upston.

She said the Government was listening and shared public sentiment that the behaviour of the group was "unacceptable".

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Upston congratulated Hume for her work on the issue, which saw all 110,000 signatures collected in two weeks.

The petition is set to be tabled in the house.

Police are urging anyone who want to come forward with information on Roast Busters to ring the dedicated freephone number, 0800 672 568. Alternatively, they're urged to contact Crimestopprs anonymously on 0800 555 111.

- Stuff

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