Editorial: The little sister who could

Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014
Lee-Anne Cartier
DANIEL TOBIN/Fairfax NZ
LEE-ANNE CARTIER: Her investigations helped bring Milner to justice.

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OPINION: Whatever payment Lee-Anne Cartier receives for her key role exposing poisonous Helen Milner as a murderer will fall short of what she deserves.

Any figure would, given the extravagant price that Cartier has paid, personally as well as financially, for the fidelity she showed to her poisoned brother Philip Nisbet's memory.

And, come to think of it, for the causes of justice and public safety.

There must now be widespread unease that the settlement figure she has accepted from the police - much for doing their own job for them and correcting their own initial ineptitude - is understood to be a fraction of the tens of thousands of dollars she sought.

The confidential status of the settlement does the police no favours, given that Cartier calls it an insult that she accepted because her bills couldn't wait.

Much as police have a duty to be careful with how they dispense public money, few among the public would believe that Cartier has been grasping. Instead, the impression of compensatory meanness is now strong. And this from an outfit that should, in the circumstances, have been not just grateful but penitent.

An internal police report acknowledges the crashingly obvious; Milner may, without Cartier's attentions and the insights of a coroner, have got away with murder. Cartier's amateur but adept detective work not only sapped her resources and time, it also required her to remain close to Milner and convincingly sympathetic. "Do you know," she later said, "how hard that was talking to her like she's your best friend when you absolutely hate her for what she's done?"

By her own account, Cartier's 4 -year obsession with the case left her financially ruined, emotionally damaged and with strained family relationships. Had she been an undercover officer, she would at least have been on the public payroll - and given the result the taxpayer wouldn't have begrudged that in the slightest.

Now we are left with the horrid suspicion that we have saved ourselves plenty of money that, in all honesty, was fairly owed.

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- The Southland Times

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