New Plymouth man Rei Trow had spent countless nights sleeping in his car in different spots around New Plymouth as he struggled to find a home due to his criminal convictions and intellectual disability. (File photo)
A Taranaki man who was struggling to find work and a place to live due to his criminal convictions now has a job and roof over his head after seeing them quashed.
Between 2008 and 2016 Rei Trow was convicted of obscene language, breaching of a local liquor ban, breaching community work, male assaults female and four charges of shoplifting.
But Trow, who has an intellectual disability, has successfully appealed the eight convictions in the High Court at New Plymouth on the grounds that they were miscarriages of justice, as he was unfit to stand trial the at time.
The 35-year-old has previously had convictions dismissed for the same reasons, after psychologists’ assessments found he had an IQ below average and was in the “extremely low range of functioning”, the court findings said.
However, such assessments were not undertaken when he was convicted of the most recent charges.
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In 2003, Trow was convicted of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in Auckland.
The following year, he was assessed by a psychologist and found to have an IQ of 55. Typically, an IQ score of 70 or below represents a significant cognitive deficit.
Trow was in the “extremely low range of functioning” and the psychologist believed he did suffer from an intellectual disability.
The mental fitness reports found he was unfit to stand trial, and an appeal brought against those convictions saw them dismissed.
However, when Trow was convicted between 2008 and 2016 no reports or assessments concerning his fitness were undertaken.
During the appeal, his lawyer said that given Trow was previously found unfit to stand trial, had an assessment been completed for those convictions a similar finding would have been made.
They said that it was “highly unlikely his intellectual disability would have improved” in that time, therefore he was unlikely to be fit to stand trial and a miscarriage of justice has taken place.
In a judgment released this week, Justice Grice found there had been a miscarriage of justice in relation to each the convictions, and they were dismissed.
Earlier this year, Trow spoke to Stuff when he was living in his car in New Plymouth.
He said his criminal history, and intellectual disability, had left him sitting on the public housing waiting list for a year-and-a-half as he could not secure a job or spot in the shelter.
However, Trow’s friend, who originally reached out to Stuff in May, said he now had regular employment, a roof over his head and was “happy as a lark”.