A former policeman says mistakes in the way an armed killer was let off with a warning hours before he fatally attacked an Auckland jogger were linked to her death - despite an official report finding otherwise.
Police today have been criticised, but cleared, over their handling of the man who killed Auckland jogger Jo Pert.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority said today police officers should have made more enquiries when dealing with Tevita Filo on January 6.
They also found a police dispatcher did not pass on all the available information.
An ex-policeman and close friend of Pert who laid a complaint over the way police dealt with Filo before he killed Pert today slammed the findings as "unbelievable" and "contradictory".
He and Pert's family believe if Filo had been arrested the night before, he would not have been free to roam the city's streets the next day and harm Pert.
Filo killed the Auckland mum as she jogged on Shore Rd, Remuera, but the authority said it was not possible to draw any link between her death and police actions the day before, when a motorist called 111 to say he had beenfollowed from St Heliers to Howick.
Within minutes two officers stopped Filo and spoke to him at the roadside.
They said Filo was acting "strange" and "really, really weird". The officers also noticed a knife in his car.
Meanwhile, the police dispatcher checked Filo's car and found itwas wanted aftera theft from a shop.
However she did not recall seeing that information and did not pass it on to the officers. Nor did she pass on further information about Filo's disturbing behaviour the motorist had reported.
The officers seized the knife and warned Filo. He denied he had been following anyone, and the officers accepted his explanations for his actions, even though they were contradictory and implausible.
The authority said Filo's behaviour and possession of the knife should have prompted the officers to make further enquiries with the dispatcher before deciding what to do.
"[That] would have led them to interrogate Mr Filo about the reasons for his actions. In the absence of a more plausible explanation, they might have arrested him and taken him to the station," said authority chairman Judge Colin Doherty.
A family member and an ex-policeman friend of Pert both complained to the authority about how police handled Filo the night before the murder. Filo was not arrested on January 6, despite being found stalking a couple and with a large knife in his possession.
Justice Murray Gilbert found Filo not guilty by reason of insanity for her murder and of 12 other alleged crimes in the 17 hours before and after her death, because he was incapable of understanding his actions were morally wrong due to his schizophrenia.
The charges include following a couple in their car from St Heliers to East Tamaki on January 6.
But the ex-policeman said it was hard not to conclude that police shortcomings didn't contribute to Pert's death.
"Had the attending officers been supplied all the information, I'm of the belief that they would have undoubtedly arrested Filo that night and therefore it is very unlikely he would have killed Jo the next morning because he would have been locked up."
He said the fact attending officers found Filo acting in a strange and agitated manner coupled with finding a knife should have been enough to take him in for questioning.
"When combined with the other mistakes the IPCA have found, his arrest should have been a no brainer.
"The final conclusion from the IPCA completely contradicts their findings. The findings warrant a review of police procedures so that this cannot happen again."
He said he was compelled to lay the complaint for Pert, who was a close and longtime friend.
"Jo was such a caring person, if the shoe was on the other foot she would be beside herself and she would have asked exactly the same questions."
He was now considering appealing the decision and eager to hear the coroner's findings.
Detective Inspector Kevin Hooper last year told media the decision by those officers to not take him into custody was the right one.
"Police confiscated the [weapon] at the time and officers questioned him at length. They checked the police computer to see whether or not there were any alerts against his name. As we know now there were no alerts that Filo had any mental health issues or that he posed any danger to the public."
Hooper said theyissued a roadside warning.
The next morning, Filo killed Pert because he believed he was following orders to get back to the "real world".
Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers said staff in the Communications Centre and on the ground had to make quick decisions in a fast-paced and challenging environment.
They were encouraged to use discretion and roadside warnings were common for a variety of offences.
"Staff had to make a decision based on one interaction with Filo. They could not have foreseen what was going to happen. It is natural to try and rationalise what he did, but we now know that Tevita Filo was a very unwell man," said Rogers.
She said police had also reviewed officers' actions but did not believe any changes were necessary.
"Sadly, the two officers who dealt with him during one roadside encounter on that night did not have the benefit of hindsight and could not have foreseen the terrible events which followed."
The finding has come as a blow to the dead woman's family who told Fairfax had the police arrested him Jo would still be alive.
"We think this is a weak conclusion to 'get the boys off the hook', " said the family.
"We strongly believe that, had the police done their job that night there is a good chance that Jo would still be alive. "
They family said the report showed police had had the opportunity to thwart the deadly course of events.
"Had they even considered that the knife Filo had was for the sole purpose of attacking the couple he was stalking or had they just simply checked the information available which included that his vehicle was wanted in connection to a theft, and had they arrested him at that time, his plan to kill someone would have been disrupted. And Jo would not have been killed by him the next morning."