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First prison time compensation bid lodged

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/10/2016

The first bid for compensation following a Supreme Court ruling that prisoner release dates had been worked out wrong for years has been lodged.

The court last month ruled Corrections had been wrongly interpreting the Parole Act 2002 and was miscalculating parole and release dates, meaning 500 prisoners were up for early release and 21 had to be let go immediately.

Michael Marino, one of two men who brought the Supreme Court case, has now also become the first to file a High Court case to get compensation over the error.

His lawyer, Douglas Ewen, said they were seeking a summary judgement to get the matter resolved quickly without a trial, and that a win would make it significantly easier for others affected to get compensation.

"Hopefully if I can get a quick determination ... there won't be a need for a class action," he said.

"If the High Court says 'no issue of liability is cut and dry' ... I would have thought these cases are simply going to be about resolving how much compensation should be paid and that should be able to be done by negotiation."

Mr Ewen declined to say how much compensation might be sought and no date has yet been set for the case.

But Corrections Minister Judith Collins last month said a payout was unlikely, given the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections' calculations four times in previous cases.

"He shouldn't get his hopes up," she said.

But Ewen said very similar previous British cases had found that argument hadn't held up.

Mr Marino was first charged and remanded in custody in February 2015. He later faced further charges.

He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 22 months and 12 months.

The Supreme Court said Corrections wrongly calculated Mr Marino's pre-sentence detention, and the release date it worked out was incorrect, meaning he had spent around four months too long behind bars.

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