1493363071627 - Man who was wrongly convicted of rape and abduction dies after long illness

Man who was wrongly convicted of rape and abduction dies after long illness

A Manawatu man who was wrongfully imprisoned for a rape he did not commit has died. 

Palmerston North’s David Dougherty served more than three years in jail during the 1990s after being convicted of the abduction and rape of an 11-year-old girl in West Auckland.

He was acquitted after a retrial in 1997 and in 2001, he received an apology from the Government and was awarded $868,728.80 in compensation.

Dougherty’s partner Joann Atutolu said he died on Thursday, April 20 after being unwell for some time. He was 50 years old.

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Atutolu, who lived in Palmerston North with Dougherty, said on Friday that she had just come back from Auckland where his funeral was held this week.

In memory of her partner, Atutolu had placed one of his jerseys across his favourite chair at the home he lived in for about five years. 

She said she did not wish to comment further as she needed time to wind down.

After his acquittal, Dougherty had a number of run-ins with the law, mostly for issues relating to theft and alcohol-fuelled offences.

In January and March this year, he appeared in the Palmerston North court for assaulting a police officer in November 2016. 

It was during one of these appearances that he said his behaviour was “totally out of order”  and admitted he was no longer drinking due to suffering from pancreatitis.

Dougherty had been drinking alcohol at the time of the assault because he was grieving the recent death of his mother, he said. 

He had suffered acute pancreatitis twice, and said he could not handle alcohol anymore. 

The story of Dougherty’s wrongful conviction was made into a television movie, Until Proven Innocent, in 2009. 

In 2003, 11 years after Dougherty was arrested for the rape and abduction, Nicholas Reekie was found guilty of the crimes.