Charge stayed due to delay

Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013

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A Timaru man had a charge of burglary stayed after the court found time delays had breached his rights.

Dale Toka Wetere, 40, appeared in the Timaru District Court yesterday on one charge of burglary following the burglary of a butcher's shop in Tokoroa on December 10, 2003.

On March 1, 2011, the ESR contacted police to say it had found a match with Wetere's DNA from two blood stains left at the scene of the burglary.

On August 18, 2011, Timaru police were given the file and arrested Wetere on November 29, 2011, for burglary.

A constable obtained a DNA sample but discovered he had used the wrong procedure and asked Wetere to supply a second sample, but he refused. On December 16, 2011, the constable applied for a court order to get a DNA sample.

Judge Joanna Maze said between then and August 3, 2012, there was a lot of "toing and froing" and it was discovered the wrong order had been sought and granted by the court.

On October 3, 2012, when the error was discovered it was decided to start the case all over again, and on November 12, 2012, police again approached Wetere for a sample and he would not co-operate.

In his evidence, Wetere said he had been stressed by the case hanging over him and been unable to apply for jobs while he was awaiting the outcome.

"It is fair to say the police had not expected to proceed with the fixture today," Judge Maze said.

"From March 1, 2011, to today, what is the explanation for reaching today without the police being ready to proceed?

"There are several reasons, and I must include myself in this, for the absence of progress. Mr Wetere has also contributed by his refusals.

"There have been undue delays and the summary charge was already elderly when it was laid [in 2011] and merited prompt attentions and it has not received it."

Judge Maze said she needed to weigh up whether Wetere had been given his right to be tried without undue delay accorded to him under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

"There has been undue and unacceptable delay, which will prejudice the matter, therefore the information is stayed," Judge Maze said.

"The truth is, the police have had long enough to get it right."

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- The Timaru Herald

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