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Police mistakes not to blame for Joanne Pert's death - IPCA

Newshub logoNewshub 12/10/2017 Dan Satherley, Wilhelmina Shrimpton

Police should have made more inquiries about a man they pulled over in January last year, who would go on to kill a woman the next day, the Independent Police Conduct Authority [IPCA] has ruled.

Tevita Filo killed 41-year-old Joanne Pert in Remuera, Auckland, on January 7, 2016. Just the day before, Mr Filo was pulled over by police, after a motorist rang 111 to say he was being followed.

Two officers questioned Mr Filo about his behaviour, later saying he was acting "strange" and "really, really weird", according to the IPCA report released on Thursday.

© Newshub. Mr Filo told them the knife he was carrying was for safety and denied he was following anyone, but the IPCA said his explanations were "contradictory and implausible".

A vehicle check by a police dispatcher revealed Mr Filo's vehicle had been involved in a recent theft of a loaf of bread, but the information was not passed onto the officers, nor were other details about Mr Filo's behaviour, given to the 111 operator by the motorist who called the police.

Police took the knife and let Mr Filo off with a warning.

"If they had... learned of the full extent of Mr Filo's actions, it would have led them to interrogate Mr Filo about the reasons for his actions," the IPCA said.

"In the absence of a more plausible explanation, they might have arrested him and taken him to the station."

© Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited The next morning, Mr Filo killed Ms Pert. He intended to rape her but was put off by the amount of blood.

He handed himself into police later that day.

The IPCA said it was unlikely that, if the officers had all the relevant information when they questioned him the day before, Ms Pert's death would have been avoided.

"It is not possible to determine what would have happened if he had been questioned further. The probability, however, is that he would have been processed and then released on a pre-charge warning, as the officers predicted.

"Even if Mr Filo had been charged, he would, in all probability, have been released into the community on police bail. In either event, no police action would have seen Mr Filo remain in custody."

In response, the police said officers have to make "quick decisions in a fast-paced and challenging environment" and "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 Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers.

Mr Filo was found not guilty of Ms Pert's murder by reason of insanity. He believed he'd been "banished to a virtual world" and had to complete a series of missions to get back to the "real one".

A psychiatrist told the court Mr Filo would have treated the killing like a "video game", and that the real Ms Pert was still alive.

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