TV Preview: I Am Innocent

I Am Innocent: TV1, 8.30 Wednesday

A PERSONAL VIEW By Doug Coutts

A PERSONAL VIEW
By Doug Coutts

I Am Innocent – well, that’s what they all say. But sometimes they’re right, as TV1’s new series sets out to show.

Each episode tells the story of a person or persons unjustly convicted of a crime they didn’t commit.

Lord knows there’s enough material out there, as the Bains and Lundys of this world – and those of them no longer in it – will attest.

A miscarriage of justice is a serious thing and those of us who thought lazy – at best – or corrupt cops were a thing of the past will be (and were) surprised to learn that ineptitude and butt-covering are seemingly still alive and well in the nation’s police stations.

Episode one of I Am Innocent deals with three South Auckland teenagers sent to prison for assaulting and stabbing a young girl.

Despite the fact that the key witness later recanted his story – largely written for him by detectives with an eye on the clock, despite the victim telling one of the cops during a break in the trial that she didn’t think the girls in the dock were in the group that had beaten her up, despite there being holes in the evidence so large you could drive a Black Maria through them, the girls – aged 16 and 17 – ended up in Mt Eden.

And there they would have stayed but for lawyer Gary Gotlieb, who got the ball rolling and the girls out, proven innocent, after seven months inside. Even so, compensation was slow to arrive and the amount was quibbled over, as if  – impossible as it may seem in this day and age – a group of kids from South Auckland didn’t really matter much in the wider picture.

And that’s precisely the attitude that caused the problem in the first place.

As searing indictments go, I Am Innocent is on the hot side – of a system where prejudices can still outweigh evidence and the easy way is the best way. You’d hope that’s the exception rather than the rule but there’s not a lot of fun in being an innocent exception.

Two niggles – it would have been good to find out that the cops involved had been drummed out of the force, even with a voiceover as the credits rolled, and the three little bits of narration disguised as radio newsflashes stood out like a truncheon in a wetsuit. But apart from that – top marks.


Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years.  He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at: Weakly Whirled News.

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One Response to “TV Preview: I Am Innocent”

  1. Lynne Adrienne July 15, 2016 at 9:00 am

    This shocking and traumatic situation has recently happened to my son. He has been wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and is now in Springhill Prison waiting sentencing. Despite the description and time frame not matching, the police’s tunnel vision resulted in my son being the only person considered a suspect. Our family is devastated but we intend to fight for as long as it takes to clear our son’s name. We would appreciate any support with how to go about proving his innocence.

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