Judge asks for police perusal of race allegations

By Imran Ali

BACK HOME: Frank Kokiri Rota surrounded by his five children at their Hikurangi home yesterday.PHOTO/JOHN STONE
BACK HOME: Frank Kokiri Rota surrounded by his five children at their Hikurangi home yesterday.PHOTO/JOHN STONE

A judge has recommended transcripts from a jury trial involving a Northland police officer who allegedly racially abused a man be forwarded to the Independent Police Conduct Authority through the region's top cop.

Judge Duncan Harvey made the recommendation in the Whangarei District Court on Thursday night following a jury verdict on Frank Kokiri Rota who was found guilty on charges of assaulting police and threatening to cause grievous bodily harm, and not guilty on the charge of assault with a weapon.

The verdict was unanimous despite the jury earlier that evening informing Judge Harvey they had difficulty arriving at a decision.

The jurors were then told it was possible for them to reach a majority verdict which meant 11 of them would have to agree.

On the charge of assaulting police, the jury recommended leniency be shown to Rota.

Judge Harvey convicted and discharged him on the two charges he was found guilty of before directing the transcripts be sent to police District Commander for Northland, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, and recommended that he forward them to the IPCA.

The police officer at the centre of attention during trial was Hikurangi-based Constable Cameron Stack who was accused by Rota of calling him a "n****r" and "black c**t".

Mr Stack denied the allegation.

In his evidence, he said Rota was verbally abusive, aggressive and made obscene gestures when he got out of a parked ute outside Hikurangi Primary School on November 11, 2015.

Rota's evidence was there was no need for the officer to hassle him outside the school because he had not broken the law.

He claimed a week earlier, Mr Stack stopped him riding a motorbike on Valley Rd in Hikurangi and racially abused him.

Mr Stack denied the allegation.

Rota said yesterday he was glad to be back home and away from the justice system.

"I prepared for the worst but the verdict and the judge's conduct of the trial has restored my faith in the (criminal justice) system.

"It was a traumatising situation to be in but to see my family hurt was not easy. I couldn't be more happier," Rota said.

Judge Harvey's recommendation, he said, was a "bonus" for him as he didn't expect that coming.

He hoped the New Zealand police and the authority investigated the alleged actions of the officers involved in his arrest as well as Mr Stack allegedly racially abusing him.

Mr Le Prou yesterday said he noted the jury verdict and would wait for correspondence from the judge.

The correspondence, he said, would be assessed before any possible course of action was decided upon.

Four days after Rota was arrested, his partner Kathleen Connell filed a complaint of alleged racial abuse by Mr Stack to the authority.

- Northern Advocate

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