Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Govt to pay out $5m for wrongful conviction and 18 years in prison

The Government will pay Alan Hall just under $5 million in compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment, Acting Justice Minister, Deborah Russell, announced today.

“The Government accepts Mr Hall’s innocence, and apologises unreservedly for his wrongful convictions and imprisonment,” Dr Russell said.

In 1986, Mr Hall was convicted of murdering Arthur Easton and intentionally wounding his son, Brendon Easton and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In June 2022 the Supreme Court quashed his convictions and directed that verdict of acquittal be entered. Mr Hall spent nearly 18 years in prison as a result of his wrongful convictions.

In July 2022 Mr Hall lodged an application for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

In September 2022 the former Minister of Justice, Hon Kiri Allan, appointed retired High Court Judge Rodney Hansen CNZM KC to provide independent advice on Mr Hall’s application for compensation and the question of Mr Hall’s innocence.

In February this year Mr Hansen concluded that Mr Hall had established he was innocent of the charges for which he was convicted.

Mr Hansen was then asked to provide advice on an appropriate amount of compensation for Mr Hall. In June he recommended that Mr Hall receive an ex gratia payment of $4,059,725.75 under the 2023 Compensation Guidelines for Wrongful Conviction and Detention.

Mr Hansen also recommended that consideration be given to making an additional payment of $874,000.00 outside of the 2023 Guidelines to recognise Mr Hall’s losses for the period he spent on parole between 1994 and 2012.

This period of parole did not qualify for compensation under the 2023 Guidelines, but Mr Hansen considered that compensation was justified in the exceptional circumstances of Mr Hall’s case.

Cabinet accepted Mr Hansen’s advice and offered Mr Hall compensation totalling $4,933,725.75.

Mr Hall has accepted the Government’s offer of compensation.

“I recognise that Mr Hall suffered significant losses as a direct result of his wrongful convictions and imprisonment. I acknowledge that the apology and compensation can never completely remedy the injustice Mr Hall has suffered. But I hope they go some way in helping Mr Hall rebuild his life and will enable him to pursue the things he wants to,” Dr Russell said.

“New Zealand has a strong justice system, one which New Zealanders can continue to have faith in. On this occasion, an injustice was delivered to Mr Hall, and we are acknowledging that today.”

The Cabinet papers and Mr Hansen’s reports are available here.

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