Paritutu probe ends

Last updated 14:28 21/12/2012
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ANDY JACKSON
A student is rescued from the side of Paritutu rock.

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Police say their investigation into the Paritutu tragedy, which claimed three lives in August, has been completed and no charges will be laid.

Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward said the investigation had been long, detailed and thorough.

"There was no evidence of criminality at all and there are no criminal charges laid."

He said the families of Spotswood College students Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Felipe Melo, both 17, and their Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre instructor Bryce Jourdain, 42, had been informed of the outcome.

The trio were swept to sea on August 8 while climbing around Paritutu rock.

On the morning of August 19, the body of Brazilian exchange student Felipe Melo was found in the water intake of the Contact Energy power station near Port Taranaki.

Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Bryce Jourdain have not been found, but have been farewelled with public memorials.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is conducting a separate investigation and has until February 8 next year to make a decision whether to lay charges.

Virginia Bryan, Felipe Melo's host mother, said she thought it was appropriate no criminal charges were laid.

"Someone has to wake up every morning and think 'I made the decision that led to that,' they have to live with that and that has to be enough punishment."

She said charges leading to a trial were likely to prolong the grieving process for the families.

"It's been traumatic for everybody, and to have that sort of thing happen would just spin it out even longer."

Topec has an independent party conducting an internal investigation which board of trustees chairman David Grigg said was ongoing.

He said the outcome of the police investigation was another step in the process.

"Our thoughts are with the families more than with ourselves, especially at this time of year," Mr Grigg said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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