The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that two officers should have made further enquiries when dealing with an incident involving Tevita Filo on 6 January 2016, and that a Police dispatcher did not pass on all the available information.
Mr Filo went on to kill Joanne Pert in Remuera the following morning, but the Authority has determined that it is not possible to draw any link between Police actions on 6 January 2016 and Ms Pert’s tragic death.
On the evening of 6 January 2016, Police responded to a 111 call from a motorist who reported that Mr Filo had been following him from St Heliers to Howick. Within minutes, two officers stopped Mr Filo and spoke to him at the roadside. They said Mr Filo was acting “strange” and “really, really weird”. The officers also noticed that there was a knife in Mr Filo’s car, and Mr Filo told them he had it because it made him feel safe.
Meanwhile the Police dispatcher conducted a vehicle check, which revealed that Mr Filo’s vehicle was wanted for an incident involving a theft from a shop. However she did not recall seeing that information and did not pass it on to the officers who were dealing with Mr Filo. Nor did she pass on further information about Mr Filo’s behaviour which the 111 call taker had obtained from the motorist.
The officers decided to seize the knife and warn Mr Filo for his possession of it. Mr Filo denied that he had been following anyone, and the officers accepted his explanations for his actions, even though they were contradictory and implausible.
The Authority found that Mr Filo’s behaviour and his possession of the knife should have prompted the officers to make further enquiries with the dispatcher before deciding what action to take.
“If they had made those enquiries and 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. In the absence of a more plausible explanation, they might have arrested him and taken him to the station” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.
“If Mr Filo had been arrested for possession of a knife and taken to the Police station the previous evening, 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.”