Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The war over a mystery

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    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.

    But it's not just a matter of opinion. It's a matter of record that the investigation breached good and ethical practice at almost every turn -- right up to Colin Eade's sexual encounters with various women involved in the case . The Wikipedia article provides a reasonable summary. See also the article on Day-care sex-abuse hysteria, which lists a string of similar controversies around the world over the same period.

    Those children were abused alright -- by people in the system who have never properly been called to account. The VUW psychologist Marianne Geary has a great presentation about the creation of memories through the kind of practices they used. They are the reason there are young people walking around today believing they were sexually abused at the creche.

    The sad thing is that there were other victims too. A friend's two children in Auckland were almost undoubtedly abused by a neighbour -- they even wound up with STDs. But by that time the police were so gun-shy they declined to bring charges.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • John Madden,

    Arthur Allan and police misbehaviour was smack dab in an era when convential (unquestioning) respect for authority was racing down hill and the boys in blue from "Otahu" gave it all an extra shove.. The late 60's and the 70's was when police were carrying out politically inspired raids on bookshops and underground magazines, when they were called pigs with real meaning (an epithet shared by a beloved prime minister), and any sense of good and evil you got as a child got blasted away by stuff like Kent State. The clear attitude of authority to youthful complaints was "yeah, and what are you gonna do about it". I left school in 1969, and come the end of the 70's people like me were liable now to be the lawyers and accountants, the journalists and managers. And we could do something about it. My oldest fella is a policeman now, proud of the lad, and I do not envy the job he does. Time (and age) sure does change things. Pity it hasn't changed Mr Hutton. Sleeping easy is not the same as being in the right. And knowing you are right isn't proof.

    United Kingdom • Since Mar 2012 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, 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?

    I wouldn't go that far, but really I think the media needs to have a good hard look at itself over day after day of not-particularly-useful "no arrest yet in Kahui case" coverage. I know Police officers who were peripherally involved in that case, and really think a good chunk of the public (and media) need to be reminded that cop shows/forensic procedural on television are NOT DOCUMENTARIES. Of course, you're damned for "not getting results" fast enough for the Six O'Clock News, but if you don't get a conviction off a weak case then you get it from the other end.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Ruarangi Marino easily fits into what Matt Robson described as the ‘terrible few’, but when people like him strike, they strike hard, and the media gives the impression that there’s one like him on every corner. Were society to put a bullet in his head and dump his body in the ocean, it would become no better than him.

    And no matter how tempting the death penalty may be, miscarriages of justice like those of Bain & Ellis are the single biggest reason to oppose it. I get the impresson that “clash of civilisations” macro-nationalism is the real driver behind it – at least in the States – and all sorts of other fuck-upedness about Laura Norder politics.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4060 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The VUW psychologist Marianne Geary has a great presentation about the creation of memories through the kind of practices they used. They are the reason there are young people walking around today believing they were sexually abused at the creche.

    Not to mention the very substantial ACC payouts made to alleged 'victims', in most cases before Ellis and his colleagues had even gone to trial. Now that St Elmos Courts has been demolished it's too late to check whether those ninja turtles reportedly seen on the fire escape by a young witness during one of Ellis's outings might have left any telltale traces of DNA.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3326 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to DeepRed,

    And no matter how tempting the death penalty may be, miscarriages of justice like those of Bain & Ellis are the single biggest reason to oppose it.

    Possibly - but I also think a pretty damn good reason to oppose state-sanctioned murder is that (AFAIK) there's no empirical evidence that it has any deterrent effect whatsoever. If you're only in it for the vengeance, that I've got to register some moral qualms about the hierarchies involved on both sides of the equation.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Possibly – but I also think a pretty damn good reason to oppose state-sanctioned murder is that (AFAIK) there’s no empirical evidence that it has any deterrent effect whatsoever. If you’re only in it for the vengeance, that I’ve got to register some moral qualms about the hierarchies involved on both sides of the equation.

    Indeed. Timothy McVeigh actually wanted the US federal Govt to execute him, so that those who shared his views could revere him as a martyr of the militia fringe.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4060 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to DeepRed,

    Indeed. Timothy McVeigh actually wanted the US federal Govt to execute him, so that those who shared his views could revere him as a martyr of the militia fringe.

    Even more than that, I'm trying to remember who said (and not at all facetiously) that if you're going to commit a capital crime in the US and live to tell the tale you should be a white, middle-class, middle-aged "mainline" Christian mother. The important qualifier is don't kill your children or a sympathetic husband - that drives your odds of beating the needle way down.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Was big in the 70s alright, Yallop’s book, TJ Sprott’s forensic investigations, Thomas “Re-Trial’ committee etc. Royal Com. hearings were held in the still unusual West Plaza building I believe. “knew someone, who knew someone” is common in these look backs. But, heh, I did know someone who met Thomas on the inside and quizzed him, and reckoned others asked too, verdict: “just a farm boy, rather thick, did not do it”.

    Now as for the coppers; they remain great at finding lost trampers and cleaning up after car crashes, things most of us prefer not to. But they do take shortcuts, some are bent, and are all members of the state forces as a number of picketing unionists and protestors might confer.

    On the eve of the 1990 Auck Commonwealth games my flat got raided by a mixture of detectives, bluebellies and dogs with a warrant seeking “rocket launchers and ammunition”. They basically kept us under house arrest for the day. The search was fruitless. This affair was well documented by the indefatigable Brian Rudman then at the Auckland Star. Their snout had been wrong or whatever. So what did our thin blue line do coming up empty? They planted a good quantity of very fresh cannabis leaf in an ornamental box in the lounge, saying “don’t take this any further, (which as political activists we had indicated we would) and we won’t mention this”. None of us actually smoked, though some of our guests did, hilarious in retrospect.

    Anyway a door down was a section of the Harawira family who got raided too, they even bought some beer over later aplogising in case we got raided by association or something, which did not seem to be the case.

    So the upshot is pretty obvious, tread very cautiously around the NZ Police-hello Rickards, Hughes, Hutton etc. Kiwis love their ‘cold cases’ but as the years tick by the Crewe one will likely only get colder.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    This woman's most certainly no angel, but I just hope the corrective measures meted out on her are not the start of a slippery slope.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4060 posts Report Reply

  • hamishm,

    There was a pretty wide spread view at the time, that the cops knew that Thomas had done it but couldn't pin it on him. This was always told to me in an approving manner as we all felt that the police were there for us and that we could trust them. The current view of police would, I hope, not be so accepting.
    It is quite horrifying to think that a whole country was prepared to look the other way but meshes with the ideas I have of the old days in NZ.

    Since Nov 2006 • 345 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    the cops knew that Thomas had done it but couldn’t pin it on him.

    I have trouble understanding how you can *know* something and yet not be able muster the evidence that substantiates it.

    Now, I suppose it's comforting to feel that when the police fit someone up, their motivation is that they believe that person is guilty anyway. It would be an even worse state of affairs if they deliberately framed people they thought were innocent. But honest intent hides a dishonest claim. You don't need to be a professional epistemologist (paging Mr Dentith!) to be suspicious of a claim that you know something with certainty -- enough certainty to justify putting someone in jail for life! -- but you can't produce the evidence.

    And yeah, this event along with the policing of the Springbok tour is what made me a skeptical child when it came to the police. Interesting that Ross Meurant figured in both these confidence-destroying exercises.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2918 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Interesting that Ross Meurant figured in both these confidence-destroying exercises.

    And even more interesting how he's now one of its staunchest critics.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4060 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    I have trouble understanding how you can *know* something and yet not be able muster the evidence that substantiates it.

    Let me throw another family anecdote into this: my grandfather, a judge, died in August 1973. I spent much of his last days with him, as did my mother and father. Shortly before he passed he told us that Thomas was innocent and the cops had planted evidence. It was, he said, common knowledge in the force.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3201 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Re Peter Ellis: I knew a child in the "maybe" basket. The parents believed the abuse had happened based on some behaviours exhibited by the child but had no other evidence. It seemed convincing until a close mutual friend told me the elder sibling of the child had exhibited the exact same behaviours a few years before at the same age (and no Ellis in sight). Go figure.

    Re Scott Watson: I always thought he'd done it in an alcoholic blackout and genuinely couldn't remember.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2553 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I know Police officers who were peripherally involved in that case, and really think a good chunk of the public (and media) need to be reminded that cop shows/forensic procedural on television are NOT DOCUMENTARIES. Of course, you’re damned for “not getting results” fast enough for the Six O’Clock News, but if you don’t get a conviction off a weak case then you get it from the other end.

    And still to say ,that is not good enough. They are here to serve and protect us. We pay them to not be thugs who lie and cheat. I expect better. I have had thugs and cheats who lie, in my life. It isn't what I signed up for. The Police have their rep on TV. Use the 6 oclock news. Tell how it's going. Don't be precious. Transparency doesn't hurt. Truth is knowledge. And respectful.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5923 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    And still to say ,that is not good enough.

    Not getting any disagreement from me there, Sofie. And I don't think the class of cops I know would disagree with you either -- because, you know, when someone's freedom and reputation is at stake (and they've been accused of horrific crimes like infanticide and prolonged sadistic child abuse) you really shouldn't be cutting a micron off the corner of your case.

    The Police have their rep on TV. Use the 6 oclock news. Tell how it’s going. Don’t be precious. Transparency doesn’t hurt. Truth is knowledge. And respectful.

    Yes, but that works both ways. No matter what talkback callers and the Herald's more excitable columnists thought, the Police couldn't actually force members of the family to co-operate with the Kahui inquiry. And "90% of the self-selecting sample of an on-line poll says he looks like a bad bugger and has to be guilty of something" isn't really grounds for laying criminal charges.

    How many times do you need to keep repeating those non-trivial points of fact before the fucking Herald (which is not a judicial body, BTW) gets the clue?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Shortly before he passed he told us that Thomas was innocent and the cops had planted evidence. It was, he said, common knowledge in the force.

    Well, say no more for me.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5923 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    How many times do you need to keep repeating those non-trivial points of fact before the fucking Herald (which is not a judicial body, BTW) gets the clue?

    We could find out by asking Russell. The man, in my opinion, has integrity, doesn't lie and if truth be told, is a right sweetie, who lives with great influential family members, (hi Colin) and we could gauge time by his response{ ;))

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5923 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    the cops knew that Thomas had done it but couldn’t pin it on him.

    I have trouble understanding how you can *know* something and yet not be able muster the evidence that substantiates it.

    Sounds amazingly similar to Marlborough a few years back...

    In my experience... because you get brownie points (and maybe a nice DC job) for tidying the big ones up quickly. And those points evaporate if you lose at trial.

    I do take great solace from how much better the investigations have become since the Sounds case. It was a huge wake-up call for NZP.

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Hebe,

    Re Scott Watson: I always thought he’d done it in an alcoholic blackout and genuinely couldn’t remember.

    Exxcellent. I don’t think he did it but really, I would rather cops do a fantastic job proving he did/didn’t. I shouldn’t have to be perturbed constantly because I care about each other being treated fairly. I actually care about everyone including those I don’t like because honesty is the best cliche.

    Hebe, if ever I had to choose your belief is the best { : )

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5923 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda, “have always thought”, maybe, “what if”, no, no no. It must always be about beyond reasonable doubt based on evidence, which may include verifiable cop ‘spice ups’, fit ups and perjury.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Don’t be precious. Transparency doesn’t hurt. Truth is knowledge. And respectful.

    But we are just human. So it's said. OK, I grant that. How to live according to ideals of which I don't like the consequences of, at the moment. So self sacrifice or not umm.... That's a NO. Did I have a Homer moment
    Where is the out, in that ramble?
    I like 'consequences of, at the mo'

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    +1, Hebe & Sof'

    -the thing that has always got me about that case is - the ketch.
    Water-taxi drivers dont make that kind of error AND a similar vessel, according to description, was seen elsewhere in ANZ waters...

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

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Islander,

    That was my first intrigue.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5923 posts Report Reply

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