Peace Movement Aotearoa   |   Human rights page   |   Steven Wallace page

September inquest in Wallace case

18 May 2005

A week in September has been set aside for the continuation of the inquest into the death of Steven Wallace, who was fatally shot by a police constable five years ago.

Coroner Gordon Matenga said September 12 had been set aside for the hearing, to be held in New Plymouth, after a conference last week between lawyers for all the parties.

"We are not entirely sure how long it's going to take. We have allowed a week, but I don't think it's going to take that long," said the Hamilton-based coroner.

"In essence, all of the evidence that was heard at the High Court (during the private murder prosecution) I do not need to hear again, I will just receive the transcript."

There were still one or two pre-hearing matters to be finalised, including the number of witnesses to be called, Mr Matenga said.

The coroner had earlier decided to limit the inquest to two issues: Police policy and procedure applying to general staff dealing with violent offenders and first aid care.

He said it was not a chance to re-litigate the criminal prosecution.

Susan Hughes, the lawyer for Senior Constable Keith Abbott, who fired the fatal shots, and lawyer Ron Mansfield, for the Wallace family, asked for a review of various decisions made by the coroner.

However, New Zealand's Chief High Court ruled that the inquest into the 23-year-old man's death in Waitara on April 30, 2000 should go ahead.

The inquest was originally adjourned in 2001 when the Wallace family brought a private murder prosecution against Mr Abbott.

The officer, who was acquitted by a jury, said he was defending himself from Mr Wallace who had attacked an occupied police car and was then advancing on him armed with a bat.

A Police Complaints Authority investigation into the fatality will be completed once the inquest is over.

The Daily News

Peace Movement Aotearoa   |   Human rights page   |   Steven Wallace page