A man wrongly sent to prison for assault stands to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation after his conviction was overturned.

Tyson Redman was 17 when accused of being part of a group assault at a party in Auckland and sent to prison for two-and-a-half years.

Six years later - after he had served his time - the conviction was wiped when evidence emerged he wasn't present when the assault took place.

Now approaching 30, Redman and his upcoming compensation payment are revealed in briefing papers for Minister of Justice Andrew Little.


In a section titled "future claims for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment", Little was told Cabinet needed to decide before the end of 2017 about increasing compensation which was to be paid to Redman.

The decision which needed to be made was around increasing compensation to match inflation since the original conviction - the same decision which lifted Teina Pora's $2.5m payment for 20 years in prison to $3.5m.

Little confirmed he had viewed an independent report into Redman's original conviction and was aware of the recommendation of compensation for Redman. "It's under consideration," he said.

He said he had made it clear to officials that the guideline amount for compensation set in 2000 had to be inflation adjusted, as it had been for Teina Pora.

The payment has yet to be finalised but is imminent. Based on the Cabinet guidelines - and inflation - Redman should receive at least $350,000, based on $100,000 for each year of prison and a $100,000 base payment for missed opportunities.

Lawyer Jeremy Sutton, who acted for Redman in seeking compensation, would not comment. A message to Redman's family went unanswered.

The events that led to Redman being sent to prison began with a 21st party in a garage in Mt Roskill.

Redman, then 17, was one of a number of young men running with youth street gangs in inner-suburban Auckland in the mid-2000s. He was identified in the Court of Appeal judgment as being a member of JDK, variously known as the Junior Dom Kings or Junior Don Kings.

According to court papers, a friend of Redman's - Pliskin Wichman, 17 - lived next door to the house where the party was taking place and had joined the celebrations.

During the course of the evening, court papers stated Wichman became drunk and "provoked" a fight with Steven Tarapata, who knocked him to the ground.

Then Wichman went home, collided with a window and cut himself - and then went to a house where JDK friends had gathered.

When he got there, court papers stated Wichman told them a different story and claimed he had been "bottled" by Tarapata.

That led to a number of young men arming themselves with baseball bats and lengths of wood and escorting Wichman back to the party. Tyson Redman was one of the group.

Whatever was intended, it was cut short when Janine Tatana - Wichman's mother - told them to leave.

They did, but when they returned Tatana was then encouraging a fight, according to the Court of Appeal judgment.

In the melee that followed, bottles were thrown and an assault launched which left six people at the party injured, including Tarapata.

Redman said at the time he was present the first time the group went to the house but not on the second occasion.

But two prosecution witnesses claimed he was, although both were stoned and one stoned and drunk. It was at a stage in the party where people were "truly wasted", one said.

Their testimony at trial clashed with Redman's mum, who said he had fallen asleep drunk at home by the time fight broke out.

Redman was convicted and sentenced to prison but appealed the decision, with lawyer Barry Hart challenging the Crown witnesses who identified his client as unreliable. The appeal failed.

It was followed in 2009 by an application to the Governor-General for the rare use of the "royal prerogative of mercy".

Redman's family said the conviction should be wiped and Tyson freed because there were now eight potential witnesses who had provided sworn statements saying he was not there.

Court papers stated Redman's family had wanted his lawyer to present evidence from the witnesses at the trial and at the failed appeal. The documents show that the evidence was not put before the court out of concern their evidence would undermine Redman's mother's testimony.

The 2009 application saw the Ministry of Justice review the file, then a recommendation that the new evidence should be heard in a fresh 2013 Court of Appeal decision.

By then, Redman had served his full sentence, having been released in 2010.

The 2013 hearing saw the eight witnesses quizzed by Court of Appeal judges, with three stating they were in a car which dropped Redman home before the assault. The other five witnesses testified that Redman was not one of the group involved in the attack.

The Court of Appeal overturned Redman's convictions, saying the Crown case was not strong and the witnesses could lead a jury to find "reasonable doubt".

While a new trial would normally take place, the court stated there was no point as Redman had served his sentence.

Janine Tatana - convicted for encouraging the fight - said her family was "ecstatic" that Redman's convictions were overturned.

She said it was "all but too late" because "the repercussions … through being incarcerated far outweighs his convictions overturned".

"They were all teenagers at the time. Most of them are now nearing their 30s and believe me you, you certainly wouldn't wanna cross any of them.

"They were labeled as youth gang members. They certainly are not now. They (are) grown adults now."

Tatana said the men all still knew each other "but all have their own lives". She said most "live successful lives with their own families" and one of the group had gone on to become a national sporting representative.

"We been through the process with the justice system in this country and quite frankly it sucks."

It is understand Redman's sister Rachael championed her brother's innocence and pushed to find evidence needed to clear his name.

The process Redman went through - which started after his first failed appeal in 2008 - will have taken a decade to resolve.

It's the same system bureaucrats assured Little was broadly functioning - but one which the incoming government is determined to replace.

Little was told by the Ministry of Justice its staff already carried out most of the functions of a Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The briefing told Little there had been work done - but not put in place - over the past 15 years that "could strengthen arrangements for reviewing miscarriages of justice".

This included setting up a specialist unit inside the Ministry of Justice, increasing resources in the area and having an external review process for its work.

Little told the Herald he expected a commission to be set up as an independent body by 2019.

"I strongly believe even the best justice system in the world will get it wrong sometimes."

He said it was possible for unfairness in the lower courts to be repeated through the appeal layers and a commission would "step outside" the usual justice system to make fresh assessments of cases.

A leading criminologist who has worked on wrongful convictions says the current system isn't enough because it relies on a "white knight" championing the cause of someone who has been wrongly locked up.

University of Canterbury's Dr Jarrod Gilbert said a commission would help build information about a case to get it to the point where it could be reviewed.

At the moment, it was essentially circumstance and luck that led to cases getting that sort of focus.

"The system now relies on white knights. It took 20 years for Teina Pora to find his white knight. There are people I am aware of right now - including someone with a rape and murder conviction - who doesn't have a white knight."