Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Woman leads Roast Busters police case

Police up ante as detective with significant experience appointed to head multi-agency probe into scandal.

Roast Busters Joseph Parker and Beraiah Hales.
Roast Busters Joseph Parker and Beraiah Hales.

Police have upped the ante on the Roast Busters investigation, appointing a woman detective with significant experience in child sexual abuse cases to head the newly named Operation Clover and drawing on a number of government agencies.

And ACC is welcoming victims and offering support - regardless of whether they wanted to speak to police or make formal complaints.

Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, who usually oversees all serious crime in the Auckland city district, will join the Waitemata Child Protection team, who have been investigating the Roast Busters members since a 13-year-old girl made a formal complaint against them in late 2011.

Her appointment to the operation comes just days after Commissioner Peter Marshall conceded police should have handled the publicity around the underage sex scandal earlier and had repeatedly given wrong information to media about the number of victims involved.

Roast Busters is a group of predominantly West Auckland youths whose members bragged online about having sex with drunk and underage girls.

Members Joseph Parker and Beraiah Hales are said to be living undercover since their names and faces were made public.

It was confirmed last Friday that Tristan Burrow, the son of police Constable Craig Burrow, was associated with the group in 2011. He was interviewed by police and co-operated with the investigation, but has had no involvement since.

Police refused to answer specific questions about the investigation yesterday, including whether any new victims had come forward and whether they had spoken to any of the suspects since last week.

But in a statement they said Ms Malthus would lead a multi-agency team on Operation Clover.

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock, called in last week to "cast a fresh set of eyes" on the case, will retain overall oversight of the investigation.

Meanwhile, ACC is urging victims to come forward to access sexual assault support including counselling to help them make a decision about whether they wish to involve police.

If you would like to speak to ACC about what support is available, contact its Sensitive Claims Unit in confidence on 0800 735 566.

- NZ Herald

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