Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rewa investigation - what about Mike Bush?

For a long time Teina Pora has been the name most associated with the murder of Susan Burdett. Pora the name foremost for another man's crimes, but it was Rewa that was convicted as a serial rapist, convicted of also raping Susan Burdett and acquitted of her murder. It's a mockery sold by the police and the Crown that Pora raped Susan and later, or contemporaneously, Teina murdered her.

Right back then at the time of the murder and before, police used Rewa as an informer buried in the Highway 61 gang. Police as we know protect their informers - often extra judicially. What the public should expect is that the police inquiry into the Burdett murder (a second time and hopefully a lot better than the first) is to get to the bottom of how far the original police inquiry was either deterred from investigating Rewa, or in fact how much of a blind eye was turned his way allowing him to continue his crimes against women. That issue is now the heart of what soon will no longer be called the Pora case but rather the Rewa case.

I've believed for years that police deliberately kept their eyes closed to the fact of Teina's innocence for 2 reasons. Firstly, to appear that they were right in arresting Pora and that the right man was in prison for Susan's death. Then secondly, and more importantly now, to avoid acknowledging that police contributed to Rewa's crimes by leaving him free when he had already been named as the rapist of one complainant, who incidentally was told by police that she needed to have his name before they could do anything and when she bravely complied, still ignored investigating Rewa as he continued to hunt other woman while paying police off occasionally with information.

This where the police should know be spending their resources, not investigating Susan's death again because they have enough to convict Rewa already - have since his DNA was found at the crime scene, and had while they facilitated his being found not guilty of her murder by fouling the trial process. How did they ensure that it wasn't a fair trial - by giving the Jury the false option of believing Pora was guilty when police knew he wasn't. The real inquiry into the Rewa case, is to find the police complicit in keeping him protected, not protected so much for Rewa's benefit originally but rather for police and their public profile.

Mike Bush having already, probably prematurely, because the stay of proceedings against Rewa has yet to be lifted, said he has begun a fresh inquiry with new detectives. This inquiry should not just be a fresh murder investigation but should be looking into the police cover up. Find out how high that cover up went, if in fact it went higher than the original investigation commander Rutherford. The public are entitled to know that potential charges are being investigated against Rutherford and other police who could along with Rutherford be responsible not only for Teina's false imprisonment but also for the crimes police silence and inaction allowed Rewa to continue in his hunt for victims.

There are often calls by politicians for inquiries, many times over relatively unimportant issues. The Rewa case is not unimportant it is the thin veneer over potential police corruption that left a rapist free to continue a long rampage - initially perhaps in exchange for a window into the gang scene then more probably than not eventually to hide police involvement or lack of action. An early question arises as to Bush's suitability of being involved in the investigation at all because some of Rewa's crimes happened in his patch when he was area commander. To do justice to the victim's and public interest he should be stepping aside of any involvement, perhaps going on leave or retiring and letting it be seen that the inquiry is going deep into the hidden caverns of the police relationship with Rewa the serial rapist and police informer. While at the same time the inquiry finds out why Andy Lovelock, a former undercover agent around the time of Rewa's offending, was so adamant last year that Pora was guilty and Rewa was not.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Those 2 killers in Lundy

When the dust settles on the Lundy case it has a extraordinary look. 17 years in the making and still unclear. There is 1 particular reason for this, the material found on Mark Lundy's shirt of origin that continues to be debated, and where really the case looks to have gone off the rails.

I'm interested in the DNA found under Christine and Amber's nails reported as coming from 2 unidentified males. I understand that. 2 men in the house maybe that killed the mother and daughter.
So how does DNA get under fingernails, what is known about that. A lot actually. DNA under the nails begins to disappear as the hands are used, washed, picking up a cup, working with the hands. It takes around 6 hours for that to happen for those doing day to day things, eating, sleeping, washing. Most DNA found under nails comes from the person's spouse, partner, near relative, someone  they live or work with. The Crown say that Mark Lundy killed his wife and daughter after 3 am in the morning. That puts Christine and Amber having come into contact with 2 unknown males whose DNA lodged under their fingernails who are of no interest to the Crown.

When I started this blog I knew about DNA of relatives arriving under the nails of those they were in contact or lived with, I knew that DNA generally disappeared within 6 hours as the result of daily routines. More recently I had learnt that foreign DNA was far rarer to be found that came from strangers. I began to think that it's probable arrival was the result, particular in a murder case as the result of a struggle of some sort. This morning when filing some material that had arrived throughout the week in my mail box sent by Professor Chris Halkides an American bio chemist on the teaching staff of  the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Carolina, with several publish papers on his resume and a recent book published regarding forensic science applied to crime solving, an expert of high calibre no less. A man that helped free Amanda Knox.

Some one had mentioned the particular paper to me in passing but I didn't absorb the fine detail of course until reading it this morning. It's explosive for the Lundy case with it's complex science arguments which argue a novel and unorthodox approach to testing decomposed material against safe orthodox testing of highly secured forensic samples using methods which are peer reviewed and of international safety standards. Suddenly the case is back to the crime scene and out of laboratories worldwide intent on arguing what has been said to have been the most important evidence, evidence that can't be agreed upon,  whether it could be human or animal central nervous system matter, could have been already preserved in food production. To be clear I have no problem with the safe and orthodox testing, but I do have a large problem with the novel testing particularly  with its unproven track record that keeps a man in prison. And an even larger problem with our Courts willing to admit evidence from an American not authorised to do forensic tests in America or to give evidence in Court on forensic matters in his own country. It's got bogged down by chance, a chance to prove new pseudo science in a case which has already been found to be a Miscarriage of Justice and where The Crown are given another opportunity where strict law on unproven or potential unsafer forensic procedures would disqualify them from having a second chance.

So opening and reading the correspondence and it's particular link was not only a change of direction somewhat on the Lundy case but the chance to get back to something real, what happened? Not in a
Texas lab, not in a Palmerston North Police station where samples were removed from safe custody control into the hands of an unauthorised person, a break in the forensic pathway control of exhibits -but to the crime scene. A chance to look at evidence, to reconstruct what may have happened and who killed Christine Lundy and her 7 year old daughter Amber.

Here is the abstract or paper summary that brings into clear focus evidence more critical that the forensically abused and unsafe process of the microscopic shirt spots the origin of which continues on unabated to be argued. I like it.

"An important aspect of homicide investigations is the identification of the persons that had the last
contact with the victim prior to death. Violent crimes are frequently characterized by a struggle between the victim and the perpetrator where biological material can be expected to be exchanged between them. Forensic DNA typing enables the generation of genetic profiles by extraction and amplification of cellular material found under fingernails. The evidential value of these samples may be critical if the secondary contributor found in a DNA mixture, can be matched with a potential suspect, or through a DNA database search. The amount of biological material transferred under the fingernails during ‘‘casual’’ activities is not sufficient to genotype reportable mixtures. This may not be the case with homicide victims that may have struggled and died under violent circumstances.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of DNA mixtures found under the fingernails of
both victims and suspected perpetrators of violent deaths. We present a retrospective study of 137 DNA profiles genotyped from fingernail samples of homicide victims and suspects, collected at the Israeli National Center of Forensic Medicine. The majority of the samples produced single source profiles (n = 107, 78%) that matched those of the donor’s. DNA mixtures (n = 30, 22%) were found in increased frequency among victims (n = 25/100, 25%) compared to suspects (n = 5/37, 13.5%). Mixtures were sub-divided into high level (n = 15, 50%), low level (n = 9, 30%) and residual (n = 6, 20%), according to the number of the foreign contributors’ alleles. Thus, this distinctive group of homicide victims was found to express both elevated frequency of DNA mixtures together with
highly informative value of the secondary foreign profiles, as compared to other studied populations.
These findings support an important aspect for the criminal investigation in murder cases, where a
struggle may have ensued and the identification of an additional profile found in a mixture from a
fingernail sample may point to a possible perpetrator of the crime."

So here it is, information dripping with established and orthodox science relevant to the Lundy case, relevant to the deaths of the victims and the fight they may have put up before succumbing to 2 killers. 2 killers you might ask? Yes, 2. The DNA of 2 unknown males under the nails of Christine, confirmed and agreed upon and for some reason not made the main issue at the trial. Why? because of the total argument over what I believe to be the hoax science. Brain dies outside the body immediately, the reason why formalin is used to replace the blood in a body where the brain is to be removed for scientific purposes, deterioration is immediate otherwise. In Lundy we have alleged tiny spots of brain on a shirt in the boot of a car, then in a 'safe' in a police station before taken to America in a bag, not a refrigerated bag either launching an argument which has absorbed 1000s of hours of research, at least 100s of hours of legal preparation and been argued 4 different levels of Courts including the Privy Council where Lundy's first convictions were overturned before our weak Appeal Court agreed to let the evidence be used again in a majority Judgement that fell far below that of the highly researched and frequently argued minority opinion of Ellen France.

Well what I want to know is who are the 2 unknown strangers, why haven't they come forward, why haven't police found them and why is Mark Lundy in prison and not the 2 men that broke into his home while he was 2 hours away in Wellington?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Lundy: how the Courts got it wrong.

Mark Lundy's case is one of those that falls between the cracks of public interest. Yet it remains one of the worst Miscarriages of Justice still on the books of the NZ Justice system. It may be the lack of public interest that has kept curiosity silent in this case, or perhaps just the apparent complexity and the horror of a father allegedly killing his wife and child.

Old friend complexity is the tool of injustice, especially when used in the orthodox way of having weak evidence support weak evidence - the archaic idea of the justice and proof being 'like the strands of a rope, where if one thread is broken the evidence may still stand.' In NZ our Courts have distorted the strands of a rope theory into a vehicle for injustice, it happened in the Thomas case with a cartridge case, in Watson with 2 hairs, Bain with a glass lens, Pora with a false confession and there are others. What these cases demonstrate is where a case is dismantled over time to the point where a single strand of what was once a complete rope holds a highly suspect case together. It is beyond this blog to deal with the others mentioned here in detail, but briefly each of those became controversial cases with 'mountains' of evidence in support that diminished to fragile single threads holding the weight of a Miscarriage of Justice together. How has this happened in NZ, not once but many times? Poor Judicial oversight and reasoning, perhaps even compliance through ignorance or by a deliberate effort to not understand the fundamental aspect of how injustice thrives within the NZ Court system.

We have to start with the shirt spots found on Lundy's shirt which were said to brain matter from his wife Christine. Instead of just taking the narrow view that has sufficed for our COA so far, but which was rejected by the Privy Council - we will look for surrounding data that either supports or which fails to support the 2 spots being brain matter. This is something the NZ COA failed to do constructively, they looked at the 2 spots in isolation and didn't weigh their known history. In other words they opened the book part way through not having satisfied themselves of the safety of reading a story beginning part way through. In fact they assumed the either knew the beginning of the book or that it didn't matter. Of course the beginning does matter with forensic evidence, where it was found and how it was treated. One reason why that has happened is because police have still not disclosed the paperwork surrounding the number of inquiries police made for help from legitimate forensic sources throughout the world.

Brain matter deteriorates quickly outside the human body, rapidly in fact. Quite quickly it may no longer be recognizable for what it is, also be unable to be tested to determine what it is. In the Lundy house where police and scientists went within hours of the murders they found a horror house of blood spattered walls and the bodies of Christine and daughter Lundy both with severe head wounds, possibly caused by an axe or similar. They also found what was obviously brain matter which was already degraded. Common sense, indeed life experience tells us how meat or other perishable items decay, most noticeably on the surface first then eventually inwardly. So here it must be remembered the brain matter found at the scene was recognizable and even for the un-initiated it would have followed that it was brain because of the obvious area of the wounds. Head wounds, brain matter already deteriorating to exposure outside the body and excised from life.

Some distance away is Mark Lundy, later in the boot of his car will be found a shirt allegedly with invisible microscopic marks on the left breast of the shirt. That shirt will eventually be taken from ML and stored as a potential exhibit. It will be the only exhibit item not given to the exhibits officer of the case, something he will later say had never happened before his police career. Eventually, a forensic Scientist Dr Teoh will be asked his opinion on the 2 spots. He will say that the 2 spots are too downgraded to be tested, this is days or weeks after the murders. Teoh will also comment in his report that no man should ever be convicted using such suspect 'evidence.' The officer in charge of the case Grantham will return the shirt to a safe which could be described as a incubator for further deterioration. So the shirt has never been in safe custody to that point and will remain that way even after Grantham is notified of the deterioration and must surely have understood one of the most commonly known facts that biological matter deteriorates from the outside to its centre when openly exposed to air, and of course temperature. Every test lab in NZ controls human body samples in a temperature controlled environment, but that didn't bother Grantham who would later taken the sample in a plastic bag on a 14 hour journey to the States for an unqualified American medical doctor with absolutely no forensic testing qualifications, or approval to test such potentially human samples - to test in his unapproved laboratory set up to detect potential cancerous cells from known sources.

So this is the beginning. The protocol of a safe custody chain for evidence was broken by the officer in charge, he also kept a slide sample lifted from the shirt and known brain matter taken from the scene. It could be argued he retained a tool kit of  prospective evidence which would deteriorate whilst in his care. He was advised by a specialist that he should send the samples to an FBI lab or similar who had experience in handling and identifying potential central nervous system material . Material which will ultimately be found to have no neurons and only a few glial cells. An estimate from the size of the stain lifted from the shirt was somewhere between the size of a grain of sand and grain of rice, genuine central nervous cell tissue equivalent to this size should have contained approx 700,000 neurons and 7 million glial cells, along with 50 million red blood cells. That is the starting point, what should be expected to have been on the slide if it was central nervous tissue. So this is step 2, the sample is inconsistent with being cns on 3 counts, 100s of thousands of neurons missing along with millions of glial cells and red blood cells. It cannot be tested in any Forensic Laboratory in the world because it presents without the fundamental certainties that it may be cns, no forensic scientist will touch it. Already we have 2 errors that our Courts have been willing to overlook. The pattern is set, prevarication, something the police will thrive upon, getting away with breaking a safe custody chain, ignoring specialist advice, ignoring what they know - the sample is missing millions of neurons, glials and red blood cells. Looked at another way their sample has a few what may potentially be glial cells but contains nothing which indicates that it is cns, even before that time the sample was not treated as required by the police manual for the handling of exhibits. Best practice, NZ standards and international standards are broken something which does not have the biological consistency in 3 important markers or indicators as to cns is being advanced, a car driving the wrong way in motorway traffic, a house attempting to be build from the roof down, a disaster unfolding and the Courts saying and doing nothing.

Next the American expert Dr Miller, without forensic qualifications or experience. In fact a tester for antigens and antibodies from known samples, liver, brain, bowel etc taken from known patients thought to be suffering cancer. In NZ this happens in Medlab, is common, possibly 1000s of tests per week, millions worldwide. Known samples looking for antigens and antibodies in order to help make a diagnosis. When Miller's evidence comes to NZ it is accepted by the Courts without concern that he is not qualified as a forensic scientist, not licensed to do so and operates from a similarly unlicensed for forensic testing lab, furthermore he is prevented by Law to give forensic evidence in his own country such is the observance to safe custody chains there. The only man that will do the test isn't a scientist and yet the NZ Courts accept his evidence, not once but twice.

On the second occasion the President of the Court of Appeal dissents in a  Judgement to allow Miller's evidence and he gives evidence a 2nd time, a chance to fly an aeroplane for which he has neither a pilot's license of the expertise. He has no charts for the sky's in which he will fly but he at least knows that the Court supports all the short cuts which have allowed him the opportunity to give evidence on something of which he is neither an expert nor qualified, a man's life is in his hands and Justice for his wife and child rests with a person whose status as a witness in his own country is zero. The trap is set.

I don't think I need to go further at this point on details. The injustice of the Lundy case is already exhibited here. Our Courts have been complicit in another injustice, they have turned a blind eye to broken rules, forensic procedures and testing, failed to comprehend that a body sample, if genuine cannot be missing millions of its natural parts and yet somehow be treated as a whole. The Courts have not been able to distinguish that when the roasting tray was taken from the oven that the lamb leg, or beef cut is not present and are ready to dine on a roast without its main ingredients, no matter that the person who cooked the roast was blind and that the oven had no power - The Court is blind itself to the injustice here it enables. They don't cast their own safety aside, in fact it is certain they would not accept a charlatan testing cells from themselves or loved ones for antigens or antibodies from a sample that may have come from anywhere.

In the last year I've had the opportunity to meet an advocate for Mark Lundy, Geoff Levick. It was from his unpublished book 'Lundy The Missing Pieces' from where I have taken some of the information used here. I have also corresponded with Professor Michael Horowitz of Adelaide University, an expert in many fields including diabetes and gastric emptying who has stated by times of death of Christine and Amber that Lundy is innocent, also Professor Chris Halkides a biochemist. Both who have either followed or given evidence in the Lundy case, have scores of publish peer reviewed papers and who are at the top of their respective fields. All 3 agree that Miller's evidence is a travesty of justice, bereft of meaningful content with no place in a Court room. Who is right? Going by the surrounding facts attending Miller's evidence ignored by NZ Courts, the handling of the shirt sample, even the consideration given to it's testing by someone without the expertise or qualifications - its the 3 men, not just because they have demonstrated their understanding of what it was claimed Miller could do with his testing, but because they know. like all the certified forensic laboratories worldwide contact by Palmerston North police that if it were even a horse race the Miller horse would never have got past the track scrutineers, not only did Miller not have a horse to begin with, he didn't have a horse blanket or even a picture of one.

Important footnote.

Almost 2 years after Mark Lundy was retried, and nearly 2 decades since the deaths of Christine and Amber, NZ police continue to refuse to release of the complete file to ML, and in particular all those forensic laboratories, forensic testers and organisations, none of whom would test the samples, replies to requests by police for help. Without doubt in those 'secret files,' police won't release, is information likely to prove not only that ML is innocent but that our Courts were absolutely wrong to use untested 'science' in order to convict a man who had no other real evidence against him. How can ML hope to appeal when evidence helpful to him is hidden? Only with some honesty from the authorities, also by the Courts returning to planet earth and ordering that the files be disclosed - even if only for their own information to see how badly they got it wrong.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Silent victims in Watson?

It takes some consuming, it's an outright horror. Imagine yourself ringing police in an emergency, or in the event of responding to a police plea to members the public for support to find or report sightings when the young couple Ben Smart and Olivia Hope went missing, only to be ignored because it was claimed to have be sorted out. Even sure that you had sighted them, or photographed them or the ketch it is believed they were taken captive upon the Antares. That's where the following 3 part video takes a viewer, real life under the microscope, a vessel and people tracked across the sea by a formidable team of people with experience unable to be matched by NZ Police placed under restrictions by the officer in charge, the now retired Rob Pope.

If like me your geographical absorption of the Nelson and the sounds area is not strong then these videos take you to the ketch entering and departing waters and anchored out from the Furneaux Lodge in the early evening before the couple would go missing along with a man and the distinctive ketch. The sense for me was that I was seeing the possible abduction that was part of Ben and Olivia's disappearance in clear focus but could not do anything to help. If I got such a  feeling from the well contructed videos shorn of any emotion and very little speculation, such were the repetitive nature of the ketch sightings, then it's hard to imagine the effect on those original witnesses who never had their day in Court to tell their truth, and not one manufactured for them and the public at large.

What's more the ketch you would see was massive in size, around 50 feet long, twin masts and unmistakable because of a blue stripe running through brass portholes. A vessel that was a sight to behold, which would first draw attention because it was a beauty to embrace. It was only with later sightings when a couple were seen on the ketch still in the same waters that some witnesses expressed surprise or concern at the awkward way the couple sat in the stern of the ketch, how they never stood and appeared not to move their arms that the beauty of the ketch would have begun to look like a quivering nightmare, bold, but dark, emerging from the facile deceptive beauty.

The video, titled "The Mystery Ketch", early on shows the identikit picture of the mystery man someone with longish hair unlike the short hair style of Scott Watson now in prison for 2 decades after the ketch was allowed to slip away. The almost drone of the narrator, no voice inflections, no voice projections just dull with no measure of horror as he explains as the production shows a mug shot of one Mike Wallace, sex offender and longtime criminal, the striking resemblance between the identikit picture and Wallace, a man who crewed on boats and who was an experienced sailor.

The narrator has the name of the ketch, The Anatres, his team, Maritime Research Group NZ, tracked when it likely came into NZ waters and where it was seen heading toward Furneaux lodge and when it left. They knew of it's then recent sale for cash. They knew of it's temporary Kiwi skipper (whose name spelling was not clear to this listener) when it was in NZ waters, a friend of Wallace, both unsavoury types according to the investigators.

"The Mystery Ketch" is in 3 parts and whatever views one may hold on the Watson case the videos are a must see. 2 years of research went into the making of them. I have no idea how many individuals formed the Maritime Research Group NZ but their work is clearly thorough and challenging. It demands a Governmental response. Perhaps for the first time, and I say this not forgetting for a second Keith Hunter's well known research and work on the Watson, that the video achieves something unique it takes Scott Watson and his wee boat right out of the picture. It places what could have been Ben and Olivia on the high seas in troubling and surreal circumstances. It potentially places the couple in the company/control of gang members entering the Federal Hotel in the days after their disappearance with Olivia calling out to a friend to help her. It traces a kombi very likely linked to The Antares.

I've written about the boating community before, their inherent eye for detail of other vessels, their interest in all things nautical. They have been effectively shut out from the case, disregarded by police and not fully appreciated or known by Watson's defence. Yet "The Mystery Ketch" shows how reliable these witnesses are, how fine the detail of their reports are, how they are backed up with photos and a continuity of events. Not random sightings, but sightings in sequence of The Antares being seen.

For me, I doubted the inherent horror that the couple may have become victims of members of a possible crime group who kept them alive for some days, sometimes in public view. That stuck out as critical to me and I retain doubts about that. The type of doubt that could have influenced a Jury one way or the other. That is the point. These sightings weren't for police note books or record sheets, they were for the Jury. Though more than that they were for the peace of mind of at least 3 families forever changed, The Watson's, Hope's and Smart's. In a larger way they were for the idea of community, watching for one another on the 1 hand and the right to a fair trial and truth on the other.

Police have told the public that the mystery ketch does not exist. That may be correct, but if the public are told the ketch does not exist then they are due an explanation of a ketch people did see and did identify who they say was a couple on board who looked like the missing pair. A large part of the mystery Ketch theory can be easily proved or disproved by listening to the witnesses that saw it, a Jury could then decide on all the evidence not the evidence the police chose to present and which in many aspects has since fallen apart, but also the evidence police chose to ignore because 'they had their man' as they told many of the concerned witnesses.

Of course it not the job of police to decide who 'their man' is, that is the job of the Jury hearing all the relevant evidence including that which points to Watson's potential innocence. I mention here witnesses referred to in the videos, they took photos of what most likely was The Antares  supplied them to the police who lost them. Yes, lost them. If they weren't ignoring evidence they didn't like they were helpfully losing it, or hiding it from counsel and the public. There is a photo that survived and which the Maritime Research Group NZ were able to get some kind of copy of, they duly magnified this port quality reproduction of a photo of a small boat that was tied to a wharf with a woman sitting in the stern which well have been Olivia Hope after her disappearance.

While the war police have waged against Watson and his family a war has been waged also against honest and trustworthy Kiwis who did the right thing but were ignored. It's a little too easy just to suggest that was tough and police were doing their job. But in fact police were not doing their job, they were restrained from doing so by the orders of the Rob Pope who didn't want to know about any other possibilities than what he had decided. That is not fair or just in anyway. It's also a downright dangerous precedent where police do not respond to murder or abduction claims, the very least police needed to do was a complete and thorough investigation of the alibi that was being presented by 100s of people completely un-associated with the case apart from having the misfortune of being ignored when many thought they could be possibly helping save Olivia and Ben, or indeed had information as to what happened to them. Those people will not just have gotten over that, many of them will regret the helplessness which befell them, in some cases the outright lies which were spread against them for being enemies of the noble corruption 'cause.'

While the following link is not directed specifically to "The Mystery Ketch" scrolling down will find the 3 links in the right hand column. It is eye opening and disturbing on the one hand and on the other a major disappointment that the Justice system has been firmly arraigned for breaching the standards expected in a democracy with respect for the Law. Something must be done about this because it is fundamental to not only the rights of the Watsons, the Hopes and Smarts - but all New Zealanders, including that special group who answered a call for help but who were scorned and remained scorned in their disillusionment of being ignored in a most telling way. People who are not enemies of the police, undesirables or trouble makers but the very people that come to the rescue of others and do not turn away from evil.

I suggest any readers should send the links to their MPs along with a note of their feeling about this whatever they may be. Some will feel that this evidence should have been heard 20 years ago but must be heard now for the sake of a whole lot of people including you and I.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gerald Hope 'unconvinced' by Scott Watson.

A North and South magazine article by Mike White in which he reports the meeting between Gerald Hope and the man imprisoned for killing his daughter Olivia and her friend Ben Smart, Scott Watson, is now released.

I hope to put some perspective on both the article and comments today by Gerald Hope that he was unconvinced by an 'elusive' Watson that he not convinced is innocent. First of all it is interesting to examine the possible motives of both men agreeing to the interview and what they may really have expected as an outcome. The interview was hazardous for Watson and his chances of parole, if he somehow convinced Hope that he was indeed innocent Hope had said he would back him in his claims of innocence. It's difficult on the basis of such ingredients that the outcome was going to be positive. One man is undoubtedly a grieving father, the other may or may not be innocent of the charges which have kept him prison for 2 decades. Realistically, with or without Hope's backing Watson has the Justice system sitting unfairly on his back whether he is backed by Gerald or not.

On the other hand whether Gerald decided he believed Watson or not, he was no further ahead - the mystery surrounding his daughter's disappearance is not solved, and hasn't been solved by Watson's imprisonment. I'm sure Gerald Hope understood that before he overturned the stone and spoke to Watson. As much as he may have wanted to be dispassionate, critical, the task appeared too great for any man who lost a daughter in such a terrible way. Having read the article and the Stuff news reports of Gerald's feelings about his chance to speak with Watson one thing is plain, he still doesn't know what happened to his daughter or indeed if Watson is guilty or innocent. But plenty was revealed anyway.

Those that read the article will understand perhaps for the first time, as it was for me, that Scott Watson is an intelligent man, that he is also justifiably bitter about his imprisonment and the circumstances which led to his convictions for murder. What followers of the case will have learnt is that Hope confirmed to Watson the assembly of the case against himself, the media manipulation by which police ensured they got their man, not necessarily the right man, but certainly the man they targeted in a very public way. Gerald Hope confirmed some of the manipulation by police including that of his older daughter Amelia, who over a period of time changed her witness statement to include the possibility that Watson was aboard a water taxi at the same time she was. This was proof of witness manipulation that Hope readily revealed - hinted at his own manipulation by police. Amelia Hope now joins a number of other witnesses in a catagory of those that were convinced that their evidence wasn't entirely accurate and accepted helpful suggestions that would get the bad bugger Watson inside. Most interestingly from Hope's admissions to this was his use of the concept of the ends justifying the means, he spoke of the trial being the most expensive of any to that time, his misgivings about the quality of the police work and his real disappointment that a mystery ketch was never ruled out or indeed ruled in which may have resulted at least in part of the mystery being solved. Gerald in his honesty told the public what many suspect about the Watson case, that essentially only 1 man was targeted and that therefore consequently it may never be known if the police in fact ever arrested the right man.

To a direct question from Watson, Hope revealed that it was police who raised with him a lot of information to convince him not of Watson's guilt,  but his likelihood of being guilty for reasons nothing to do with the murders of the missing couple. One of those, though how it could possibly be significant to deciding evidence or lack of evidence against Watson, was the unsubstantiated claim that Watson and his sister slept together. Watson, with some energy, wanted to know who had told Hope that story but Hope would not say although he generally agreed that it was all part of the landscape prevailing where evidence of guilt was sparse. In the subtext Hope was perhaps inadvertently revealing his deepest thoughts and misgivings - his doubt about Watson's guilt. That doubt of course folks is the reasonable doubt a Jury must consider, and one thing the interview revealed that since the trial there are more reasons to add to that doubt on critical evidence the Jury never got to here. At this juncture 2 points cross, Hope was inadvertently perhaps acknowledging the weaknesses in the case, and to my mind why it still remains a travesty that Watson's petition for Exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy was turned down, a result which since has never been appealed by Watson through Judicial Review.

Some questions from Hope to Watson perhaps showed the strain that Hope has endured all the years since losing his youngest child.

GH "Did you as some suggested, put all your clothes into a plastic bag and swim ashore?
SW "Seriously?"
GH "I'm not serious but I am asking you."
SW "No."

To be fair nobody would have expected a sudden confession of this type from Watson, again underlying the elements of futility expected from this meeting. One cannot help but think that Gerald knew that Watson certainly was not, about admitting, something he has denied for 2 decades. Watson, at least in part, knew he had the chance to get some information he needed, or at least have it confirmed that Hope, in his position, as a leading figure in the search for his daughter and Ben, was also a leading figure in spreading some of the myths arisen in this case. Though Hope did admit frankly anyway, that the missing ketch, the recanted witness testimony, the discovery of the 2 critical hairs from Olivia's genetic line in the forensic lab where a blanket from Watson's boat was being examined, was only part of his disquiet about whether or not police had got the right man. Disquiet which at the very least remains. It's clear by his own statements that Gerald Hope does not know if Watson is guilty or not and that it was unlikely that the meeting would have ever resulted in that.

In the paper Hope says that Watson's responses to some of his questions were rehearsed and absolutely silent on the more circumstantial elements of the prosecution case such as the disposal of the bodies in a sleeping bag. He said he was mute, unemotional, disconnected without considering that Watson was hardly likely to animated in rejecting assertions that he had rejected for 2 decades. It seems Gerald could not accept that the muteness and lack of emotion may have been from offence at being asked such questions when he was being truthful, or that Watson was simply bewildered by them or the lack of Gerald being able to appreciate he didn't know. It also appears that Gerald could not discern that events going over perhaps millions of times in the mind of Watson in the last 20 years would be in a monotone, almost a resigned defeat, that the truth of his innocence is obvious. Gerald I think fell into what would be a ready mistake, that Watson would know the answers to things he couldn't possibly know if he was innocent, and that not having those answers certainly did not mean guilt.

All of this it now appears turns on 'art work' taken from Watson's cell while on remand which Hope somehow getting a copy from police - no doubt to convince of Watson's guilt. Hope is quoted as saying that looking at the drawings he sees (in Watson) a disturbed person, even undertones of death and retribution. I think that more than anything else those comments reveal the position he has held for 20 years, that he doesn't know if Watson is guilty but that his interpretation of the drawings (which certainly are bleak and dark - like other art drawn before and since by 1000s of others) have convinced Gerald that Watson is disturbed and evil. Exactly what police could have anticipated when giving a copy to Gerald.

It's a little surprising on that point that Gerald who acknowledged the manipulation by police (and himself) of the media and the pubic at the time of the arrest and trials, holds such aloft as reasons for being convinced not by hard evidence, not by the finding of the mystery yacht or a credible explanation that it never existed, by the disclosure that the hairs found in the lab that were or were not those of his daughter, that identifications were no longer in question, that evidence had not been recanted, that it was accepted that evidence had been changed by witnesses in response to pressure or convincing by police and so on - had it's answer in a drawing stolen taken from a prison cell.

Gerald Hope plainly didn't get what he imagined he might, but which he no doubt realised would not be forthcoming anyway. Those with doubts about this case got no further ahead though they now have the admission from someone very close and involved that there was indeed witness and evidence manipulation by the police in this case - the signature of all recent NZ Miscarriages of Justice.

Thanks to Gerald Hope for that concession of the truth from the other side.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Controversial NZ criminal cases as 2016 closes..

Here is a list of the status of particular high profile cases, many going back decades which have featured prominently this year.

In no particular order, and only my opinions of course.

Scott Watson: This has been a interesting though another frustrating year in the Watson case. I had the chance to learn more about the case and in particular about the Watson family courtesy of a book published by Ian Wishart titled 'Elementary.' Ian, possibly inadvertently, gave weight to Watson's innocence and wasn't happy when I put the case for that in this blog:

Ian amply pointed out enough facts which showed Watson's innocence in a remarkable way even though as the title of his book suggests that wasn't his purpose. I 'got' Ian's facts but not his interpretation of them.

Aside from that I remain frustrated that the Watson case is back in the Courts for the wrong reasons, the right to be interviewed and to meet Gerald Hope the father of Amelia Hope. His Court cases should be challenges to the bull crap reasons his application for The Royal Prerogative of Mercy was dismissed. He's fought the wrong fights as far as I can see.

Teina Pora; This case has been important for many reasons, yet like other miscarriages of Justice the Government of the day have not been able to settle all the matters fairly and dispassionately. It isn't only that there is now a Judicial Review lodged over the Government failing to pay, without good and equitable cause, inflation for the years during which Teina was falsely imprisoned.

There is also the fact that the probable killer of Susan Burdett was not only a gang member but an active police informant, one who was let go at a time when he should have been being investigated for the murder of Susan Burdett. Malcom Rewa is imprisoned for charges that occured after he allegedly killed Susan Burdett, there is evidence that police that police let Rewa off the suspect list after which he went on to commit rapes for which he is now convicted. That lies open to be observed by the Government for the women involved, they should not be left to fight for compensation and apology - they should instead by reached out to by this Government and their agencies. It is known, and shouldn't need to wait until one, some, or all of the women succeed in some legal action against the system that let them down by error, perhaps deliberate error.

Arthur Thomas: Support of Watson, adds to his support of Bain and adds to his public statement some years ago that he understood what a tough time his imprisonment was for his late first wife, Vivian. For a man to endure what he had to suffer and able to put a true perspective to his lost first marriage takes remarkable character, and Arthur has that in spades.

Mark Lundy: A case which I have deliberately left to last for a particular reason. Namely, it's fairly accepted that retrials are often less than fair. But Lundy got the worse retrial in living history in my opinion. The Crown not only dropped aspects of the original prosecution because they were disproved but changed aspects to diagrammatically opposite claims made in the first trial and held onto bitterly for 15 years. But most of all despite international forensics having entered a phase of accepting that samples submitted with from a known or suspect known source revealed to testers, no longer being acceptable, the Crown used exactly the same unapproved for forensic testing and giving the evidence to the same in America Doctor Miller. When for all intents and purposes the retrial evidence had to be right they went back to the same pathetic tester and not one of thousand of approved labs in the world where origins of samples were not known to first testers, or indeed 2nd or 3rd parallel testers.s

I was fortunate to have the co-operation of a leading and many times published forensic scientist on this matter and his opinion, from his in depth and up to date knowledge of the Lundy case, was that ML is proven innocent by scene evidence.

I understand much is happening in the Lundy case and I am very supportive of it's chances to be corrected and ML freed. If ever a case needed a crystal clear narrative to put it in order this one case cries out for shape.

David Bain: What happened in the Bain case was plain to see this year for anybody with either 2 eyes or 1. The culmination was simple, what Binnie found by using Bayesian testing was DB's innocence on the balance of probabilities. What the Aussie retired Judge, Callinan, found by totally ignoring Bayes testing was a $400,000 pay cheque. The Government then paid off Bain to go away. Justice? Who knows, but at least it was Bain's prerogative to walk away on his own terms - found innocent by a Jury.

Allan Hall: Under the radar as always, just the way the Justice Department like it. A  middle aged white man of modest intelligence and size fitted up for a murder said to have been committed by witnesses who fought the attacker and said he was polynesian, youthful and large.

David Tamihere: Somewhat a late arrival in cases of interest to me. I always appreciated that Tamihere had been framed, of course that doesn't he was not guilty. I felt for his son and the hand that had been cruelly dealt to him when the late Detective John Hughes, who features poorly in a number of case of wrongful imprisonment, planted the watch in the young Tamihere's bedroom. In recent months I was able to watch an old video of DT's wife and late(?) father which was revealing of what his family was put through. DT's wife is a terrific woman, not in the least the way police tried to portray the Tamihere family.

The whole case has taken on a new perspective with my old mate, the formidable legal beagle, Arthur Taylor on the case. It's hard to think of anyone more capable of showing how Tamihere was stitched up by Hughes and his paid informers. Whether that can result, as it should in a retrial at least, is going to be a watching point for 2017.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

3 Strike legislation misses the mark?

Possibly the most controversial Criminal Justice System Laws of the past decade have been the knee jerk reaction to the Weatherston  case in Christchurch where the Law was changed to close a 'loop hole' that was seen by Law makers regarding the defence of Weatherston in using provocation. A defence that the Jury rejected after finding Clayton Weatherston guilty anyway of the murder of one of his ex students Sophie Elliot.

The second would be the 3 Strikes Legislation, a improvised Law taken from the States and applied here in NZ. It was ostensibly going to punish the worst of the worst. It went onto became a hot political subject and would never be far from controversy and historically may be remembered for the most unusual reason that it's patron David Garrett, was forced to resign from Parliament for not having come clean about a checkered past. That past has never deterred him from voicing opinions of others, primarily anyone that doesn't agree with his often one-eyed opinions and apparent lack of insight. Somehow he thought Parliamentary Law did not apply to him by reason that he was a soldier of Law and order. He has written publicly about his desire as a youth to track down and kill gang members a statement which undermines his claim that he stole the identity of a deceased child as a 'joke.' He said he got the idea from reading the book 'The Jackal' about an assassin such are the contradictions of the man, he has never been able to explain what the joke was and certainly nobody else has. In the past  has also written about his admiration for Britain's hangman Pierrepoint in a manner that shows more of his vindictive nature that his apparent care for the Law. He is indeed a Lawyer who was stopped from practising for a time, has had unsuccessful marriages, neighbours speak out against him and his manner. He claims to have fallen on hard times and if there is any affection for anything in his life other than himself, and booze, then in must be 'his law' the 3 Strikes Legislation.

It's clear that the seldom used defence of provocation soon settled in the public mind as a non event although the legislation to ban it remains an awkward outpost in the fairness of a defendant not having available to them the opportunity to prove they were suffering enduring abuse, or physical harm and finally cracked - something that at least has the tone of reality of real life situations attending its cause. Many will, in my opinion, sympathise with those driven to striking out against physical abuse in a marriage, partnership or some other form of partnership that has gone wrong. Of course such situations will seldom result in death or serious harm to the perpetrator but there may be rare exceptions. Weatherston was not married to his victim, nor had they been in a long term relationship. She was simply moving on with her life and after killing her he claimed that she had provoked him, a claim that was rejected by a Jury.

In the following link there is a blog by Andrew Geddis which sets out his views on 3 Strikes and the predictions of Auckland Law Professor Warren Brookbanks who contemplated that the Law would actually throw up ambiguities and not capture the anticipated big fish Garrett promised. The Law Professor looks to be right as the first person to be 'captured' by the new Law was not the violent and dangerous type of offender that the public were told would be incarcerated for serious offences, and on their third strike serve the maximum sentence the law allowed without parole subject to the discretion of the sentencing Judge.

I have no intention to attempt to downplay that the man involved in fact frightened his victim, a female prison officer who he touched on the bottom for 1 to 2 seconds. But I think by any account it would never have made the newspapers, and also hasn't  struck satisfaction to the public who brought the idea that dangerous criminals were about to be thrown in prison and have the key thrown away. Instead it was a Clayton's moment, the bottom fondler received 7 years (with the chance of parole) for an inappropriate touch. After 6 or so years in the making, potentially millions of dollars spent and the public get a fizzer no matter how much die hards say 'good job.' The result is not the resounding triumph predicted. How much they must have hoped for a 'big name' a trophy instead they got a 25 year old who some would call a kid without any record of any type of sexual offence. One who according to the sentencing notes not only admitted the offence, but apologised, Even the prison officer, who was unnamed was reported, as saying that a long sentence was not warranted.

Where these points meet is a interesting place, a defendant who acknowledges guilt for a crime that he may not have been convicted of had he not pleaded guilty, a man who speaks apparently honestly of his remorse, a victim who doesn't want the door closed on the convicted man and a Judge who acknowledges that he had no alternative but to impose the maximum sentence which to his mind may have only attracted a maximum sentence of 12 months. In other words 3 parties reasonably in agreement about an out of kilter sentence that had to be imposed anyway because it is the Law. It's important to reflect that this man was not a 3 time robber or violent offender, he also was not a serial sex offender. As written above he had no convictions of a sexual nature. There could be other more appropriate situations where a 3 Striker might be shown to at least be fitting into the concept on which it became Law. Regardless, this one does not, and the 3S legislation (as Garrett fondly calls the Law when he speaks about it at every chance) has been years in the making only to prove it didn't fly. The prisoner was a teen at the times of the campaigning for this Law, blissfully unaware that one day he would have the less than enviable distinction to be the first 3 striker sentenced. However, what we don't know from the Judgement, as I recall, is if the prisoner even knew he was committing a 3rd strike offence when he touched the prison officer's butt. If he didn't, the labyrinth of understanding required of the Law would not appear to be reside in the very group the law targets.

I don't think that is the only short coming the first 3S sentence has revealed. Frankly not knowing all the details of the Law which does appear fairly complex, arguably far too complex for those intended to absorb the possible consequences of falling foul of the Law - I am left with the impression of another flaw, that a person on 2 strikes for offences of the same type can actually be dealing with that type of offending only to be tripped up for some other type of offence on the 3S calendar not committed before by he or she, even of a type which is arguably minor compared to potential more serious assaults.

If, as it appears, the Law is itself in fact an ass, only time will tell. 6 years or so on some will feel it is, others will not. This will take many more years before that becomes clear and opponents will always have the opportunity to point out its failure here. In the meantime perhaps the message has resonated not to touch the bottoms of other people. The Sensible Sentencing Trust, who pushed for the Law in a deal with the Act party have been silent about the small fish their net harvested. The Act Party leader on the other hand has said that it was a good job (the third strike sentence). David Garrett, the adopter of the idea from America who presented the Law to the NZ Parliament during his time as an MP has understandably defended the Law and marked it in someway as a credit to himself. It appears David Garrett may have possibly found favour among some groups who formerly opposed him for his manner, there were many speaking out with horror as to what bottom touching represents in the modern world. Who knows it may represent a chance to become a spokesperson for women in the future, after all there must be other crazy Laws somewhere out there looking for a new home.