DNA leads to suspect nine years after event

Last updated 05:00 08/09/2012

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A Timaru man arrested last year after new DNA evidence placed him at the scene of a Tokoroa burglary nine years ago failed to convince a judge in Timaru District Court yesterday that he had been prejudiced by delays.

Dale Toka Wetere, 39, unemployed, of Timaru, denies breaking into a Tokoroa butchery on December 10, 2003.

The front window of the shop was smashed and items from a chiller taken in the alleged burglary. The offender fled the scene from the rear of the premises after being disturbed by police arriving.

DNA samples were taken from blood found on the front door handle of the premises and on plastic bags at the scene, but were not able to be matched at the time.

However, DNA examination results produced in March last year were matched to Wetere. He was arrested on November 29.

In court yesterday, Wetere's lawyer J Lovely argued the delay in getting the case to court amounted to a breach of Wetere's rights according to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, and was a breach of the court's process.

He said two former colleagues that could give evidence of Wetere's whereabouts at the time had moved on and Wetere did not know where they were now.

Judge Joanna Maze acknowledged there was no clear explanation for the delay between the DNA match and Wetere's arrest, however it was not at an "intolerable level”. “There is a degree of prosecution tardiness [between March and November] but it could not be said to be great.”

She rejected Mr Lovely's argument that the delay could prejudice a trial. “The charge must remain and it must proceed to a fixture.”

The case will be heard again in Timaru District Court on Tuesday.

Other matters Michael Glenn David Ross Young, 20, unemployed, of Auckland, wilful damage; $1000 reparation.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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