Two people who lied to get some of the millions destined for the Christchurch terror attack victims escaped charges partly because they did not get any of the donated money.
Stuff previously revealed the pair falsely claimed to police that they were at the Masjid Al Noor on Deans Ave during the March 15 shootings.
Those who were present at the mosque but escaped injury have received $17,000 from a fund established by Victim Support.
Police gave the pair a written warning rather than charging them with making a false statement, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.
At the time, they refused to provide further details about the offending or why they chose not to prosecute.
On Friday, in response to an Official Information Act request from Stuff, Detective Inspector Greg Murton said it was deemed not to be in the public interest to charge the pair because they’d voluntarily withdrawn their claims and had not benefited financially from the offending.
Murton said the two people made separate statements to police saying they were at the mosque at the time of the terror attack.
The pair were then re-interviewed “as part of the standard process for validating claims”.
They later contacted police “of their own volition” and withdrew their claims.
Both admitted making false statements.
Murton said it was his decision “based on all of the circumstances” not to pursue charges.
“This does not mean that further instances of fraud or attempted fraud, in relation to Operation Deans (the police investigation into the terror attack), will not result in prosecution. Each instance will be judged on its own merit.”
Police released the warning letters sent to the pair. They show that one of the false statements was made on May 29. The other was made on June 10 by a person who arrived at the mosque after the shooting while emergency services were present.
Each letter says details of the offending would be recorded in the police intelligence database and the pair would not receive warnings if they found themselves in trouble again.
About $10.9 million was donated to a fund established by Victim Support following the terror attack, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
Victim Support distributed the money based on an official police victim list, which carries the names of nearly 300 people. The list includes immediate family members of the dead, people who were in the confines of either mosque when the gunman was present and those who were shot at in a public place.
Victim Support took a ratio-based approach to distributing the donated money.
In total, the bereaved received $90,000, people with gunshot wounds received $51,000 and those who were in the confines of either mosque when the gunman was present received $17,000.
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