Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The war over a mystery

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  • Hebe, in reply to Islander,

    Same; bit like a Japanese tourist sees a sheep; I see a merino ram.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Hebe,

    tourist sees a sheep; I see a merino ram.

    I have never met a boatie that won't get agreement on types of boats. Sloop/ Ketch/ single mast /brass portholes.......

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6281 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    We could find out by asking Russell.

    Yes - he's rather clear on the difference between being charged with an offense and convicted of same and all that wet liberal pussy "presumption of innocence" foofy tosh. I'm no so sure about a disturbing number of other people who should know a lot better.

    The problem with the media appointing itself judge, jury and executioner is that there's no appeals and bugger all accountability when they just get it wrong. (Unless of course, you can afford the services of Sue, Grabbitt and Runne.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Yes – he’s rather clear on the difference

    Point being.I'd trust his experience. The man is actually an expert on Media.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6281 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Hebe & Sof’ – yep.
    When the environment is familiar, so are the creatures therein.*
    And even if drunken, you dont make the mistake of calling a glass eel, a whitebait**
    *Boats are created-tures as far as I am concerned (I dont know a sailor/waterperson who doesnt feel a liveliness about them.)
    And the difference between Watson’s boat and a distinctive ketch is every bit as much obvious as the distinction between a young elver and all kinds of whitebait
    **(and believe, after 41 years at that game, I can tell my g.maculatus from my g. argenteus. Anyone ever wants to know what species are present in the West Coast catch is welcome to use my wonderful (sigh! One of my gifts to humanity!)
    acronym – BMFAP. For a small fee(to the SFTB or Women’s Refuges thanks) – or youall just go buy the late, much-lamented Rob McDowall’s “The Whitebait Book” – I will translate that…

    O, DoC offices have a perfectly lovely little pamphlet that will give you all that info for free…using Rob’s drawings. I do miss him e-

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

  • Russell Brown,

    Hmm. One thing that's not noted in Hunter's book, but is noted in the Royal Commission report is that Hutton's original order was for rifles to be collected from friends, family and associates and from neighbors within a five-mile radius of the Crewe farm.

    Thomas's rifle was the only one collected outside those criteria -- he lived eight miles away -- apparently because "the Police were aware of his past association with Jeanette Crewe." Even though he'd been fond of her years before, shortly after they both left school, and was now happily and securely married, with no known association with the Crewes.

    The RC rightly held that that such cherry-picking was prejudicial to Thomas. How many similar (i.e.: "can't be ruled out") rifles might have been collected if all the rifles in an eight-mile radius had been collected?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    The problem here is that whilst we all have anecdotal evidence that seems to indicate that "Professionals of group X never get these things wrong," the actual studies of such professionals (usually undertaken by cognitive psychologists) show that professionals are only slightly better than the laity in these kinds of issues; once you start polling the population of experts at large the error rates go up significantly.

    I've always thought the eye-witness testimony was a bit of a red-herring in this case; the scrupulously cleaned boat that belonged to Watson, plus the DNA evidence is evidence which is independent of the eye-witness testimony (i.e. it is a different argument for the guilt of Scott Watson) and that evidence is much more reliable.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis,

    Keith Hunter of course wrote Trial By Trickery about the Scott Watson case. Hunter has no doubts that Watson is innocent. I don't believe his book was ever "legalled". In fact, I understand one or more publishers refused to publish the book because it was potentially defamatory. Certianly, Hunter doesn't pull his punches. Interestingly, none of those involved with the investigation and prosecution of Watson have sued Hunter.

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis, in reply to HORansome,

    HORansome,

    Why was the eyewitness testimony a red herring? Various people on the night in question saw a man acting inappropriately towards women. It couldn't have been Watson because the description of the man bore no resemblance to Watson.The man was apparently dropped off on the same boat that Smart and Hope spent the night.

    It's curious that a clean boat should be cause for suspicion.

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Ross Francis,

    Saying that as Hunter was never sued over his book is also a bit of a red-herring; NASA doesn't sue over documentaries that claim the Moon Landings were faked, but from that we can't say there's a case for a Moon Landing hoax. It just means that NASA (and, by extension in this example, the prosecution) either don't feel the need to rehash something that has been to trial or consider the claims to be warrantless and thus not worthy of their time.

    With respect to the eye-witness testimony, it's a red herring insofar as if it is meant to discredit the case against Watson, it is the wrong kind of counter-argument to look at as it fails at the job of showing that Watson can't have been involved; the quality (or lack thereof) of the eye-witness testimony doesn't in anyway reflect upon the quality (or lack thereof) of the DNA evidence, for example.

    In re the cleanliness of the boat, what was suspicious about it was the nature in which certain surfaces had been cleaned. The DNA evidence supports the thesis that the boat had been cleaned (albeit not perfectly) to get rid of the evidence Smart and Hope were there.

    I'm not saying it is a sure thing that Watson did it; I'm just not convinced by the counter-arguments and I do think the burden of proof is on those who would argue that, in this case, the Crown got it wrong (I stress in this case).

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    With respect to the eye-witness testimony, it’s a red herring insofar as if it is meant to discredit the case against Watson, it is the wrong kind of counter-argument to look at as it fails at the job of showing that Watson can’t have been involved; the quality (or lack thereof) of the eye-witness testimony doesn’t in anyway reflect upon the quality (or lack thereof) of the DNA evidence, for example.

    True. On the other hand, Hunter's notes for Murder on the Blade say: "The key witnesses make it clear they believe they were tricked into identifying Watson as the killer. They are unanimous that Watson is innocent."

    The second sentence is irrelevant -- what witnesses think about a man they didn't see should have no bearing. But if the first sentence indicates the police case was improperly assembled, then that could reflect on the nature of the prosecution.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis,

    Keith Hunter discusses the Watson case here. During the first interview, he even confesses that some of his commentary is or may be defamatory and seems genuinely surprised that no action has been taken against him.

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis, in reply to HORansome,

    HORansome,

    It's unclear what you know or don't know about the Watson case. If you have read Hunter's book about the case, you might be less inclined to put so much store in the DNA evidence. I'm not sure what you're getting at when you refer to "the nature in which certain surfaces had been cleaned."

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Ross Francis,

    Ah, the old "If you knew what I knew, you'd whistle a different tune." 9/11 Truthers pull that one on me all the time.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh, I agree, if the police tricked people into identifying Watson that certainly would be a problem for the police case but a problem for the police case isn’t necessarily a problem with the overall evidence. It might well be the case that Watson was fitted up but that there was sufficient evidence to convict anyway.

    As I said, I’m not saying I’m convinced that case for Watson being the killer is ironclad. I’m just not convinced by the counter-argument which claims he was innocent.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis, in reply to HORansome,

    So far you've dredged up moon landing hoaxers and 9/11 Truthers, so you're doing well. As for your claim that Watson may have been fitted up but that there was possibly sufficient evidence to convict anyway, that would be up to a jury to decide, certainly not up to me, you, or the Court of Appeal. But here's what lawyer Steven Price has said of Hunter's book on the case:

    Hunter asserts that those involved in securing Watson’s conviction were party to a horrendous miscarriage of justice. He says the police were deceptive and tunnel-visioned, the media helped spread damaging misinformation, and the prosecutors misled the jury. They’re serious allegations. But Hunter explains his grounds for them. His case is persuasive. The onus now, I think, is on the police and prosecution to answer it. What has Hunter got wrong? What other evidence has he missed out that should convince us that Watson is guilty? Is there a good response to his allegations of police and prosecution misconduct?

    I phoned the police and asked those questions. I was told that Rob Pope, who was in charge of the Watson investigation and is now Deputy Police Commissioner, hadn’t read the book, and didn’t want to relitigate the case, which after all had been through an appeals process.

    Not good enough, I say. Hunter has raised serious questions here, and they go to the heart of public confidence in the administration of justice. The fact that an innocent man may be in jail is just the beginning of what should trouble us about this case.

    http://www.medialawjournal.co.nz/?page_id=40

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Francis,

    But here's what lawyer Steven Price has said of Hunter's book on the case:

    Keith Hunter actually said on the Media7 recording tonight that he believed the Watson case embodied a greater miscarriage of justice than that suffered by Thomas.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Russell Brown,

    If he'd added Ellis, I would so totally agree-
    those cases stick out like gangrenous thumbs trying to hitchhike justice according to our law-

    (way way back: also Minnie Dean...)

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

  • Keir Leslie,

    Er, HORansome, the burden of proof is always on the Crown. You might say it is a bit of a thread in English law. So it doesn't matter if you aren't convinced he's innocent. That's not the goal here.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1376 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Exactly!
    While I respect HOR Ransome's especial expertise, he's being a bit of an arsehole here. The "professionals of Group x" spiel was silly. Whitebaiters know glass -eels: water-boaters know a ketch from a sloop. Damning individual expertise with totally unsupported comment sets you right back, HOR Ransome, with some of your targets.

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

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Islander,

    If he'd added Ellis, I would so totally agree-
    those cases stick out like gangrenous thumbs trying to hitchhike justice according to our law-

    I'd add Philip Sturm, another case that glared false conviction - essentially railroaded into a cell and bankruptcy because the police didn't like him. Guilty of being an pretty unpleasant person living a sleezy lifestyle - little else.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    <q>I’d add Philip Sturm, another case that glared false conviction – essentially railroaded into a cell and bankruptcy because the police didn’t like him. Guilty of being an pretty unpleasant person living a sleezy lifestyle – little else.


    Worrying…I wonder how many others? Who dont have a positive media profile of any kind,
    and possibly insufficient representation in court-

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

  • Ross Francis, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I'd add Philip Sturm, another case that glared false conviction

    I must confess I don't know much about this case other than what's been reported. On that basis, I wasn't aware that wrongful conviction was likely. Sturm at least had the luxury - for want of a better word - of a second trial, something denied to the likes of Ellis and Watson (among others).

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Francis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Keith Hunter actually said on the Media7 recording tonight that he believed the Watson case embodied a greater miscarriage of justice than that suffered by Thomas.

    Russell, is that interview available online and when will it be screened on TV7?

    I tend to agree with Hunter, though I was fairly young at the time of the Thomas case and didn't know the details very well. My impression of the Watson case, like that of Ellis, is that the justice system stubbornly refuses to accept the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. Maryanne Garry, pyschology lecturer and one of the founders of the Innocence Project here, made a comment some years back arguing that in the US it was widely understood and recognised that wrongful convictions happened, but that wasn't the case here (maybe by the wider public but not by those with the power to correct miscarriages). Hunter has made a similar point, saying that we have some growing up to do. It's quite disappointing because several years ago retired judge Sir Thomas Thorp published research on miscarriages and found the system to be far from infallible. He has been strongly critical of the Justice Ministry which has obstructed attempts to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body that exists in the UK to examine possible miscarriages.

    Wairarapa • Since Apr 2012 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Well, the golden thread of justice is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. What counts as being proven guilty is decided by the courts. So, whilst I agree that the burden of proof is on the Crown pre-trial, the burden of proof changes post trial to those who would disagree with the trial verdict (which is why we have a rigorous appeal system which requires you to go through substantive hoops).

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

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