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Legal Aid For Tukuafu Family

10 April 2002

Justice Minister Phil Goff says he is dismayed that the Legal Aid bill to defend seven members of a family of burglars totalled $1.14 million.

The Tukuafu family members collectively received 261 guilty verdicts, most for burglary in a trial which took over six months.

“As a taxpayer, I am appalled that this family of criminals has cost us so much money, in legal aid as well as court costs and the costs of prosecution.

“Regrettably, this is the price of ensuring that justice is done, the trial was fair and the convictions were safe. Without legal representation the trail would have been longer and the prospect of appeals extending the process even greater.

“Legal aid decisions are made independently and quite properly are not subject to political interference.

“The Tukuafu family will continue to impose on society the costs of its imprisonment. The consolation is that with combined sentences of over 50 years, these recidivist offenders will be kept out of circulation and from offending for a long period of time.

“However, rather than waiting for the situation to reach this point it is important that we in future intervene earlier in the criminal cycle and put greater emphasis on prevention. This family’s criminal offending has been allowed to go too long, and should have been dealt with earlier by preventative policies and where necessary harsher sentences.

“New strategies such as Early Start and the police Community Approach have been effective with this and other dysfunctional families. Early Start intervenes early to give children in such families a better start in life.

“Community Approach focuses on dysfunctional families with intensive intervention. The programme piloted by Nick Tuitasi in Mt Roskill has achieved considerable success. The soon to be announced Youth Offending Strategy builds upon these approaches” Mr Goff said.

Ends

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