By Rob Kidd
A man accused of attacking someone with a ratchet during a home invasion has walked away from a potential jail term of up to 14 years because of a police mistake.
Dunedin man Shane Bachop, 23, was charged with aggravated burglary days after an alleged break-in at a Wakari home last August.
The victim told police he was in his bedroom when a man and woman entered and hit him over the head with the metal tool.
He named the defendant as one of those involved and described the other as a "blonde-headed chick with a pink beanie".
But 11 months later, Bachop left the Dunedin District Court a free man after Judge Kevin Phillips dismissed the charge, identifying significant police shortcomings in the process.
"There is no reliable identification evidence," the judge ruled.
The Crown seemed to accept that, he said.
The complainant spoke to police about the alleged incident two days after it took place and officers interviewed Bachop after he was implicated.
The defendant told police he did not know the man and while he accepted he had been in Dunedin on August 2, he denied any role in the break-in.
"All the lights should have gone off in the officer in charge's head that there would need to be a formal identification process," Phillips said.
"But he did not do that."
Judge Phillips outlined the often "confused" statement given by the Wakari resident during a 72-minute interview.
He said he was hit on the head from behind and claimed Bachop mentioned the Head Hunters gang.
Detective Sergeant McLean asked him how he knew the defendant.
"I don't, only through, um, other, you know, seeing him with other people," the man said.
The judge noted the complainant could not describe Bachop or what he was wearing at the time.
The man said he had been drinking a coffee with a friend moments before the home invasion.
"What we also have here is clear contamination of [the complainant's] position. We have him reciting things that are second-hand as if they are from him.
"We have issues relating to what he actually saw and what he did not see ... He could give no description at all of the person who entered other than repeating the name 'Shane Bachop'."