Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The war over a mystery

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  • 3410,

    Keith Hunter spoke about the book for half an hour on Sunday Morning.

    Interesting, but I wasn't entirely convinced by some of his conclusions.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • MxDEJ,

    "We make no findings of fact as to the Axl whatsoever" - The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, April 2012.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Allan Moyle,

    I don't why I did this, but as a teenager in 1981 I sat in the Gisborne Public Library over a number of days during the school holidays and read the RC report in its entirety. Coupled with the Springbok Tour of that year, my lifelong cynicism of police and politicians can be assumed to have started from there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Hunter draws a picture of a system (Hunter always capitalises it “System”) determined to protect itself, even at the expense of an innocent man.

    Sooo was it that way? Or just people covering their arse.

    He also said in parting: "You just tell them I sleep well at night, put it that way.”

    Having a conscience or not about your job, does affect people in different ways.
    But such jutting of one's jaw comment ...well

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1149 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    Sooo was it that way? Or just people covering their arse.

    Oh, it became very much about the establishment protecting the "integrity" of the system.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17921 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I grew up with this. As a child we were taught to trust the police. Yet here was this case, a brutal murder and after the police had apparently done their job and the perpetrator was apparently caught, tried, convicted and imprisoned, we started to see questions.

    For a child my age the idea of questioning the police seemed alien. But as I grew up and as the case became more and more public and the doubts grew greater and greater, "could the police lie?"

    The answer of course was yes. The police have always had those who lied. Sometimes for gain, sometimes to make sure the guilty were convicted. Sometimes because they needed to get a case solved.

    So that the police lied was not the thing that shocked me as I grew up. What did shock was that once it became clear that there was something deeply wrong with the investigation and that the crime had probably not been solved, that instead of opening the case and trying to solve the crime, the institution that is the police force chose to block further investigation.

    I'm sure those that tried to hide the problem told themselves they were protecting the reputation of The Police. But for me they did the reverse. I discovered that the institution of The Police would act to protect itself even when the individuals knew they were doing wrong.

    You can sneer that I should have known that already, but I was a child at the time. For me and many others it was a shock to discover that such evil could be done by people protecting the institution.

    The sad part of the whole affair is that most police are good people doing a shit job. They are there at the traffic accidents. They are there making tea for the victims. They are there dealing with the drunks at 3 am. They are there dealing with people I find very very scary. Their institution allowed their good work to be besmirched once by the police carrying out a hopeless investigation and again by the administration trying to avoid admitting as much.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    Preamble: The following comment should not be seen as me endorsing the views of the person I am representing, especially given my scepticism of the abilities of the New Zealand Police force...

    A family member of mine worked for the police at the time of the Crewe murders and is still adamant to this day Thomas did it but that the police bungled the investigation, leading to them fitting him up for a crime they sincerely believed he had actually committed.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    A family member of mine worked for the police at the time of the Crewe murders and is still adamant to this day Thomas did it but that the police bungled the investigation, leading to them fitting him up for a crime they sincerely believed he had actually committed.

    The police as a group still largely insist they had the right guy – although they’re pretty much the only ones now. Hutton had a cheer squad of officers sitting in on the Royal Commission every time he appeared.

    Hunter’s timeline of the way the focus switched from Demler to Thomas is fascinating – and without touching on his theory about particular actions on Hutton’s part, a great deal of what he presents from various official records is frankly astonishing.

    The case against Thomas involved him balancing on a ledge outside the house, opening some louvres without being noticed, poking a rifle through and nailing Harvey with a single, brilliant shot to the head. During a violent storm.

    They also had to shift the time of the murders way past the Crewes' known regular bedtime to get around Thomas's alibi. And consciously and deliberately ignore evidence from a neighbour connecting Demler with a rifle that met the description of the murder weapon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17921 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I won't bother quoting your post Bart, because I agree with every word of it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17921 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, as I said in the preamble, I'm not endorsing the family member's view; the actual police case seems to rest upon a series of quite astonishing events, each of which is unlikely, the sum total of which is very unlikely indeed.

    What is interesting is how the police and their associates (my family member was in admin and not a police officer) aren't very happy to admit that, maybe they got it wrong. It's not as if its the old guard, either; frankly, the Teapot Scandal and the Urewera Trial can also be seen as the police trying to say "We were right, really, even if other authorities have good grounds to say we were wrong."

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to HORansome,

    To say nothing of the Bazley commission of inquiry into Rickards et al. Culture resists change.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    I grew up with this.

    Ae. Not this was a marker in the sand but it was a very public case of the courts passing the reasonable doubt test (finally) instead of accepting the Police case as default guilty.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Jonty,

    @HORansome <It's not as if its the old guard, either; frankly, the Teapot Scandal and the Urewera Trial can also be seen as the police trying to say "We were right, really, even if other authorities have good grounds to say we were wrong.">
    To which you can add the Bain and Scott Watson travesties.
    Is it a fearful public putting pressure on the media for a quick result that causes the police to finger the poor sod who can't produce an alibi?

    Katikati • Since Mar 2007 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Jonty,

    Is it a fearful public putting pressure on the media for a quick result that causes the police to finger the poor sod who can't produce an alibi?

    Discussion after dinner on Saturday night, involving one of David Tamihere's sons (who's a close friend), another participant said that a former cop client of his has said that a significant reason the client quit the uniform (in the late 90s, IIRC) was a culture of, as soon as the media started getting involved, finding the first likely suspect and then making the case stick. AAT was just the first high-profile case, but Tamihere and Watson were equally-questionable cases that occurred while said client was still a cop.

    Te Qaeda wasn't really the cops finding the first suspect they could and fitting up a case around them, more a case of institutional paranoia fuelled by global paranoia leading to a sub-optimal outcome on the back of hastily, shittily drafted legislation.

    The Teapot Tapes, well, let's just say that I hope Ambrose sues them for defamation. He's got a strong case, and there's no defence of "I'm a cop". If it was really comparable, we'd have seen it go to Court regardless of Ambrose's protestations of innocence and ready-made "reasonable doubt" defence.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tim Michie,

    Ae. Not this was a marker in the sand but it was a very public case of the courts passing the reasonable doubt test (finally) instead of accepting the Police case as default guilty.

    That sad thing is, it wasn’t the courts. It was a politically-ordered Royal Commission.

    As I said in the post, Robert Taylor’s hard-nosed cross-examinations make great reading. He wasn’t afraid to kick some arse in the report either – it tears strips off the Crown’s scientific witness, Dr Donald Nelson, too.

    I doubt that a New Zealand jurist would, or even could, have done what he did at that time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17921 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    There was even a pop song about the case.

    I'll add a shout out for Wazzo Ghoti, who in two-and-a-half busy minutes fingered AAT for every unsolved crime known to humanity but cleared him of the Crewe murders. Can't remember the name of the song, but looking at the track listing for their album I'm picking it was Who killed John Paul I?

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Jonty,

    Whilst I'll agree that the Bain case is of a similar mould, I've never been convinced of the innocence of Scott Watson (although I know a few people whose intellect I respect who have their doubts).

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    Whilst I’ll agree that the Bain case is of a similar mould, I’ve never been convinced of the innocence of Scott Watson (although I know a few people whose intellect I respect who have their doubts).

    I thought Bain was possibly fortunate to be acquitted at retrial, but I have my doubts about Watson’s conviction.

    The outstanding modern example has to be Peter Ellis and the Christchurch creche case, though. There were so many things wrong with the police practice there – they withheld evidence that didn’t suit their case, over-reached and eventually had to drop charges against the other creche workers, repeatedly interviewed children till they got the answers they wanted …

    And then there was this:

    The investigating detective, Colin Eade, had had sexual relationships with two of the mothers after the trial and had propositioned another during the course of the investigation. He also had had a sexual relationship with one of the evidential interviewers after the trial. The mother whom he propositioned subsequently withdrew her child, the first to make a formal disclosure of abuse, from the inquiry. In 1994 Eade left the police suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.[15] Colin Eade said in the television documentary that he wouldn’t be surprised if all the complainants hadn’t recanted at some stage of the investigation.

    This is the senior cop on the investigation, mind.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17921 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Crikey. Bad enough without that wrinkle.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15706 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The outstanding modern example has to be Peter Elliot and the Christchurch creche case

    Peter Ellis. But other than that, I quite agree. Horrifying that such a case could be cooked up when it wasn’t ever clear that a crime had been committed.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3298 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lilith __,

    Peter Ellis.

    Gah. I could not even see that. Ta.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17921 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Whoops. When I said "Bain" I meant "Ellis." I'm not sure what I think about the Bain trial, truth be told. I'm somewhat surer about Watson, mostly due to issues around the issue of the scratch marks in the boat and the DNA.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    I have publically supported Peter Ellis’s claim to innocence, especially because of Lynley Hood’s extraordinarily good work, but also because of the craptalk that was running round Chchch at the time…it did not focus on Ellis. It did focus on ‘prominent persons.’ Note: Peter didnt kill any one.

    I am sure in my own mind that David Bain is the guilty person (i.e he shot all his family) for many good reasons – curiously, not least, because I am very shortsighted…and also, if you look calmly at the drawings Bain made, he was practisiing shooting at the top of human heads. Which is what he did.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Islander,

    You and I will have to disagree on this one. I know people who vehemently believe he did it. It's one of those things where everyone has an opinion.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    __Peter Ellis.__
    Gah. I could not even see that. Ta.

    not to worry Peter Elliot is well prepared for all
    disasters and ready to Get Thru....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4186 posts Report Reply

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