Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Teina Pora: New Zealand: Bulletin: Reporter Talia Shadwell reports the too often ignored connection between young people (like Teina Pora), Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and false confessions..."Pora was 17 when he was arrested, and later convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett. He had been told there was a reward for information on the crime. It would be many years before Pora's FASD was diagnosed. The disorder made him suggestible, eager to please people in authority – he was 17, but had the mental capacity of an 8 to 10-year-old – and so over days of police interviews, he gave a false account of Burdett's murder. A team including then-private investigator Tim McKinnel worked for years to free Pora before his conviction was quashed in 2015 by the Privy Council, finally ending his 21 years as an innocent man in prison. Another man, Malcolm Rewa, was found guilty of Burdett's rape – but was never convicted of her murder. McKinnel says there remains a vast lack of knowledge throughout the justice system."

STORY: "Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – an invisible generation of sufferers," by ....published by reporter  Talia Shadwell, published by Stuff.co  on March 12, 2017.

PHOTO CAPTION: "Former inmate Teina Pora has Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which contributed to a false account he gave during police interviews about the unsolved crime - implicating himself even though he was innocent."

GIST: A teenage boy burgles a house, gets caught and is sent straight to bootcamp. The young man is whipped into shape by a daily diet of early-morning starts and army drills. He learns about authority, self esteem and team building. When he gets out, his report positively glows. For police, the judge, and social workers it's case closed and a job well done. But a couple of days after he is released from bootcamp, the kid burgles again. It is a real-life story, and an alarmingly familiar one. But the teen just happened to front up to a Youth Court Judge, who had recently returned from Canada where he had learnt about the prevalence of neuro disabilities​ among youth offenders. So the judge had a hunch. Far from seeing a "bad egg", he saw a deeper problem, and he asked a specialist to assess the teen. The boy had Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). His brain development had been affected in-utero when his mother drank alcohol during her pregnancy. The disorder affected his behaviour. He understood routine and discipline – and right from wrong – but risk, consequences, and empathy? Through no fault of his own, and despite the best efforts of those trying to rehabilitate him, he had not learnt the lessons being drilled into him.  But with a diagnosis, specialists were able to understand what drove him to fall in with a crowd of petty criminals, and make a different plan for him: every hour of his day became part of a routine. So far as former Youth Court principal Judge and now Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft knows of the case, the kid has never been to court again. That was not how life went for Teina Pora. Pora was 17 when he was arrested, and later convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett.  He had been told there was a reward for information on the crime. It would be many years before Pora's FASD was diagnosed. The disorder made him suggestible, eager to please people in authority – he was 17, but had the mental capacity of an 8 to 10-year-old – and so over days of police interviews, he gave a false account of Burdett's murder. A team including then-private investigator Tim McKinnel worked for years to free Pora before his conviction was quashed in 2015 by the Privy Council, finally ending his 21 years as an innocent man in prison. Another man, Malcolm Rewa, was found guilty of Burdett's rape – but was never convicted of her murder. McKinnel says there remains a vast lack of knowledge throughout the justice system. 
The entire story can be found at:
See Wikipedia entry at the link below: "Teina Pora was born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, caused by his mother's drinking during pregnancy.[7][8] He grew up in Otara. His father was never around and his teenage mother died of cancer when he was four....
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;