Youth Court judge rules arrests unlawful
Tue, 25 Sep 2012 7:48a.m.
Two Upper Hutt teens have had charges against them dismissed after a Youth Court judge ruled their arrests were unlawful.
The girls, aged 14 and 16, were arrested one weekend in January after two other girls complained they had been attacked and had a wallet stolen.
Two officers responded to the call and took descriptions of the offenders from the complainants, while two other officers located a group of five teenage girls.
After questioning the group, two girls were arrested for aggravated robbery, despite their denials.
Both girls were denied bail and were strip-searched before being placed in a cell, where they remained until their appearance at Youth Court on Monday.
In her decision, Youth Court judge Mary O'Dwyer said none of the descriptions taken from the complainants matched the 16-year-old, while the evidence in respect to the 14-year-old was "weak", the Dominion Post reports.
The girls didn't have a criminal history and were cooperative with police, she said.
Further, they were "subjected to the embarrassment of removal of their clothing while in police custody. Nothing was found on their person or in their clothing".
Judge O'Dwyer was also critical of the decision not to release the girls on bail, to keep them in custody for more than 24 hours and for not consulting a senior social worker before doing so, which is required by law.
Judge O'Dwyer ruled the arrests unlawful and dismissed the charges.
Upper Hutt area commander Inspector Mike Hall described the issues raised as an aberration and expressed his disappointed at some of what took place on the day of the girls' arrest and the days following.
A senior police staff member has been tasked with investigating the incident.
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