NZ man freed after 19 years in jail

·2-min read

New Zealand's highest court has freed Alan Hall, a Kiwi who wrongly spent 19 years in prison for a 1985 murder.

Mr Hall was jailed for life as a 23-year-old for the murder of Arthur Easton in south Auckland, while maintaining his innocence.

Radio NZ reports major discrepancies between witness reports of the likely murderer, who stabbed Easton in his own home, and Mr Hall.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Helen Winklemann admitted a substantial miscarriage of justice in Mr Hall's original trial.

Ms Winkelmann pointed to major failings in the Crown's case against Mr Hall, including inadmissible evidence from police interrogations, which went on for too long, without legal representation, or note-taking.

The chief justice concluded Mr Hall - who was diagnosed with autism three years ago - was jailed out of extreme incompetence or a deliberate strategy to achieve a conviction, according to Radio NZ.

News outlet Stuff reports the courtroom rang with applause when Mr Hall was acquitted of murder Mr Easton and wounding two of Mr Easton's sons.

Mr Hall's brother Geoff addressed media outside court, saying the family "got what they needed".

"This is not just a win for us. It's a win for the nation. We fought against injustice and we won today," he said.

"Our story is told so we're very proud of Alan for staying strong through prison and being inspiring for the way he deals with things.

"We're very, very happy."

A Crown submission this week supported the quashing of convictions.

The decision gives rise to a possible compensation claim, but another of Mr Hall's brothers, Robert, said that was a question for another day.

"We're going to take some time to sit down and reflect," he said.

"At the moment we're just going to celebrate the quashing of the conviction. It's been 36 years."

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