28 Apr 2017

Man wrongfully jailed for three years dies

8:52 pm on 28 April 2017

David Dougherty, who received nearly $900,000 from the government after being wrongfully convicted of rape, has died.

Coat of Arms inside the High Court in Rotorua

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Mr Dougherty was convicted in 1993 of abducting and raping an 11-year-old girl in Auckland, and spent more than three years in prison before being acquitted at a retrial in 1997, following fresh DNA evidence.

The lawyer who helped Mr Dougherty win compensation in 2015, Murray Gibson, confirmed he died last Thursday after suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Mr Gibson said the cancer was probably a result of the trauma his former client went through while wrongly in jail for three years.

"I can't imagine what it's like every day, to realise that you're in prison for an offence that you didn't commit."

He said he kept in touch with Mr Dougherty periodically.

"Most recently he rang me, I realise now, to say his farewell ... He didn't tell me that he had this illness," he said.

"But it was quite a reflective conversation that we had and unusually at the end of it he told me on a couple of occasions that he loved me, which is something lawyers don't hear very often from past or present clients."

Mr Gibson said Mr Dougherty's case was one of the relatively few cases in New Zealand where a person was acquitted and someone else was convicted of that charge, leaving no doubt of their innocence.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs