Tipene Halford released from prison after five years over minor parole violation

Tipene Halford is finally a free man after serving five years in jail for a parole violation.

In 2013, after serving twelve years for a murder he has long maintained he did not commit, Halford was paroled from prison and turned his life around - he became a cameraman working in the television and film industry.

But three years later his life would take a turn for the worse after a man was assaulted by Tipene's cousin when they were leaving a bar.

"I tried my best not to be involved but when he was hurt I came to his aid and put him in the recovery position and went to retrieve my vehicle. By the time I got back the police were there so I just went home," he tells The Hui.

Halford went to the police station the next morning to flag that he had been at the scene of the assault.

"I try to be as transparent as I can with the people who hold my freedom, so that's probation and the police."

To his surprise, Halford was arrested and charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm despite maintaining he had nothing to do with the assault - and a jury agreed. He was found not guilty at a trial after spending eighteen months behind bars.

Halford would then spend another four years in jail all as a result of admitting to having a beer the night of the assault. He had broken his parole conditions.

Halford says it was incredibly frustrating but he couldn't allow himself to get angry in jail as that can mean your rights to see family are taken away.

Tipene Halford.
Tipene Halford. Photo credit: The Hui

Now he wants to move forward and get his camera career back on track, but to go forward he must first go back.

In 2002, at the age of 19, Halford and three others were found guilty of murdering Nicolas Clarkson at a cash machine near Queen Street in a robbery gone wrong. A key witness was given immunity from prosecution for their testimony.

"When I was found guilty of the murder I wrote 40 different letters, all by hand, to 40 different law companies asking for help with an appeal. I got five replies, four of them said no they couldn't help me and one said he'd look at my case but it was too much work."

Now the Criminal Cases Review Committee, which looks at miscarriages of justice, has undertaken a preliminary review of his case and what it has seen has prompted an investigation.

"It's been incredibly hard to be found guilty of something you didn't do and having it hang over you for 21 years," Halford says.

The Criminal Cases Review Committee will wrap up its investigation into Halford's case next year.

Made with support from Te Māngai Pāho and NZ On Air. 

Tipene Halford released from prison after five years over minor parole violation