Monday , September 20 2021

Educated by nuns, currently defending the killers: Marie Dyhrberg and her great legal career

The court was silent when John Ruka, Arnold Leefe and Hector Kelly were found guilty of murder.

Marie Dyhrberg remembers this moment in 1994, as if it were yesterday.

Verdicts always take place in the same painful way. A sense of anxiety and anticipation often suffocates the room until the pre-visitor reads the decision of the jury.

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This day was particularly difficult, says Dyhrberg.

Three teenagers went to Navin Govind & # 39; s West Auckland to rob him of cash, cigarettes and lollipops. The situation got worse, and the three beat him to death close to death. He died two days later due to injuries.

Dyhrberg defended 17-year-old Ruki.

"When the judgments appeared, I just sat down, I could not move. [I thought] "I can not leave, it's tragic for everyone." I let everyone pack, then one of the court employees said, "Is everything alright?" That's when tears came.

"I packed up and left the door, the deceased brother stood waiting for me and said:" Now we are moving, we have things to do ".

"He stretched out his hand … and led me down the hall."

For more than 30 years, Dyhrberg has been headquartered in the first row in the most known crimes and controversial criminals.

From Paremoremo cells to the Supreme Court halls, her work in the courtroom gained recognition as one of the best defenders in the country.

Dyrhberg is equally addictive outside the courtroom as inside; her anecdotes about murder and chaos are intertwined with the details of her journey to the gardening center and recent trips.

Two men who eat nearby, look in her direction, trying to hear. Dyhrberg does not seem to notice their wandering eyes and piercing ears. He is too absorbed in his stories.

Dairy Kelston, in which Navin Gonvid was attacked.


Dairy Kelston, in which Navin Gonvid was attacked.

Some memories that came across her head make me smile before she can tell them.

"I am not going for a record because it will be good, bad and ugly," he says.


Living with the law was not always good for Dyhrberg. Raised in Christchurch and educated by nuns, she thought she would become an attorney out of her reach. Subjects such as law and medicine were reserved for families with large homes and old money, not the working class.

Sam Dyhrberg described everything that grew up. She laughs at the time when her friend, who was considering being a nun, was warned that she was spending too much time with her in case she was misled.

"I would always ask" why? ' "

When she graduated from high school at the age of 15, she left for the United States, eventually returning to Canterbury to study a BA, but changed course for several years.

"I've had so many people saying," You have to do the law, you have to do the law. "I have to realize that until then I could.

"I always wanted to be a person who saved someone from executioner."

Dyhrberg started working in law firms in the early 1980s, before she opened her own practice in 1986.

Dyhrberg at the reception ceremony in 1982.


Dyhrberg at the reception ceremony in 1982.

With little money, she bought a former brothel in Otahuhu, South Auckland, and turned it into her office.

"There was no intersection" – he laughs.

Surrounded by empty filing cabinets, a pushed bicycle in the back, and a newly recruited receptionist, Dyhrberg waited with hope that the phone would ring.

"I had a fax machine – he does not have many people – and a place where people could come and be treated with dignity.

"In the end, I started to get the results in court, at the beginning you do not know how – you think that is a mistake.

"You are going through a period when you think someone is going to raise the network and expose you to the fraud you are."

Fear of revealing itself as a cheat has long passed, instead Dyhrberg was raised to Queen & # 39; s Counsel in 2014 and has since turned the push bike into the 2016 Mustang.

A longtime friend of Jan McCartney QC says that Dyhrberg has always been "fiercely loyal" to her friends and clients.

"She fits everywhere and can talk to anyone, now it's quite recognizable, and when we go out, people love to come and talk to her.

"She is also a great company, she does not judge her humor, she's just fun.

"If you have to say something, he will say it – and face, not behind his back."

Philip Kaukasi and Dyhrberg in the murder of Michael Choy.

Sunday Star-Times 4

Philip Kaukasi and Dyhrberg in the murder of Michael Choy.

After she told the court reporter, she would "sue their ass" if they broke the client's name.

Hard work was a huge part of Dyhrberg's life, says McCartney, but she was also relaxing and had "big laughs".

"It seems to me that there will be a lot of down time before Netflix binging … I know she's just finished Bodygaurd before I even started. "

An example of her friend's tenderness was shown many years ago when she defended a man who was accused of killing his adopted child.

"The jurors do not look at him, the judge does not look at him, people in court will not talk to him, he was there all alone."

On the day he called an important piece of evidence, Dyhrberg bought him a shirt to wear to strengthen his confidence.

That morning she went into court and the man asked her how she looked.

"She just turned to him and said," You look fantastic. "


In Dyhrberg's eyes, we're all more than the worst thing we've ever done. The hardened criminals are lost boys in her eyes.

During her stay in the south Auckland represented a long list of young men who found themselves on the wrong side of the poverty line and the wrong side of the law.

Like Taffy Hotene, convicted of raping and murder, who later took his life in prison.

"He lived under the house for God's sake … Taffy was so devastated."

Others were kidnapped by the justice system and drowned in the process – often taking their own lives.

Bailey Junior Kurariki, who was found guilty of the murder of Michael Choy & # 39; He was 12 years old.

Phil Doyle

Bailey Junior Kurariki, who was found guilty of the murder of Michael Choy & # 39; He was 12 years old.

Frustratingly, many of her clients fell victim to the same social degradation cocktail. Small education, dysfunctional families combined with a dangerous lack of hope led them to do destructive things.

"These boys just live awfully, they just say one day" What's the point? ".

"Unfortunately, resources are not available to select these people, so when they pass through the gate, they will receive the support that is needed.

"Employment is crucial and governments do not want to know it, they do not want to identify crime and employment."

The same applies to gangs. Enabling people to find meaning in society is extremely important, according to Dyhrberg.

"Every member of North Mongol Mob had my number in his pocket for a long time.

"Until society understands gangs, they will never solve the problem of why people are inclined to gangs, why do they have this incredible loyalty to them, not society?

Dyhrberg was appointed Queen Counsel in 2014.


Dyhrberg was appointed Queen Counsel in 2014.

"Because society was avoiding them."

Perhaps no accident has highlighted the breakdown of our culture as much as the murder of Michael Choy.

The pizza vendor from South Auckland was lured to death by a gang of young people who wanted his pizza and cash.

Dyhrberg received Philip Kaukasi, one of the young accused of murder. The youngest defendant was Bailey Junior Kurariki, who at the time was 12 years old.

Accused Michael Murray at the murder trial of Connor Morris.


Accused Michael Murray at the murder trial of Connor Morris.

"I came to talk [Kaukasi] before starting the process [and] he sat on a chair and leaned his head against the ground under the table.

"I would sit there with my head three inches from the ground, talking upside down with him."

Kaukasi was found guilty of murder. Dyhrberg remembers how, after the verdicts were issued, she made a regular pilgrimage to the Supreme Court cell to check him out.

There she noticed Kurariki, who was also found guilty of murder, in a room with a guard.

"He was a small, cheeky devil to me, he liked me very much, for him I was like a teacher or mother.

"He was tiny, I asked if he wanted to hug, he moaned" yes ", I embraced him and hugged him.

"He just melted, cried and cried."


In 2015, Dyhrberg represented Michael Thrift Murray, who was charged with killing Connor Morris, the patron of Hunter.

Morris was hit in the head with Murray's tool, after the fight broke out at the party.

Murray was not guilty of murder, saying he was not going to hurt or kill Morris. Instead, he claimed to have acted in self-defense.

The case attracted a lot of media attention because Morris's partner was Millie Elder-Holmes, daughter of the late Sir Paula Homes.

Murray was found guilty – a verdict that still does not match Dyhrberg.

"I still wonder how he was convicted, attacked by bandits."

The defense of those who think they are unprotected does not bother her.

Keeps your mind away from whether your client is innocent or guilty, focusing only on whether there is evidence of belief.

Teina Pora at the time of his arrest in 1993, when he was accused of murdering Susan Burdett.


Teina Pora at the time of his arrest in 1993, when he was accused of murdering Susan Burdett.

"It's not me who let someone go," he says. "This is a judge or a jury."

"If there is no evidence, there is no conviction, I can sleep peacefully with the fact that my duty is to obey the law on behalf of the accused.

"The law says beyond any doubt: if there is no reasonable doubt, they are entitled not to be convicted."

By saying this, some judgments persecute her – no more than Teina Pora.

She took Pora as a client long before his name was known. The teenager was charged with rape and the murder of a Papatoetoe woman, Susan Burdett.

The season was excellently released for crimes in 2015, after the Secret Council overturned convictions. During this time, he spent over 20 years in prison for crimes he did not commit.

Dyhrberg stopped working for him at this stage, but he led the charge on his first two attempts.

"Teina's case persecuted me, persecuted me for years and years, you have to be very careful as a lawyer to say whether someone is innocent or not, he was the one I spoke about that publicly innocent.

"It was a sad case, but a good ending."

There is no doubt that the work collects fees. Like every work there is light and shadow. She gave up drinking years ago to help deal with dark moments.

There is no problem with drinking, but she felt that there are better ways to deal with severe crime.

Lasting joy results from getting "good results" for her clients, with the hope that they will deal well with any cards that have been dealt. From time to time, a former client calls her.

Dyhrberg says she never heard the word "retirement".


Dyhrberg says she never heard the word "retirement".

"In those early days they came up and said" gidday Marie, she just came up to say everything is good. "

Another time, they'll see them outside.

"I say," I hope you are just passing by. "They say:" oh Marie, I'm only here for a partner, I have six children now. "

Her thought is approaching next year with a growing list of people who rely on her to help fight their lives. There is at least one murder trial to be prepared for.

She does not talk about her age, but when she is asked to be released, she says she has not heard the word "retirement".

There are even more things to do for the Crown, more clients to care for, and, as she remembered in this crushing day in 1994, more "things to do".

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