Friday, August 23, 2019

Lundy at Supreme Court.

The basics of what I know of Lundy at The Supreme Court appeal next week.

The test for the Lundy case at the Supreme Court (SC) is whether guilt is inevitable after some junk science was thrown out by the Court of Appeal (COA) which the Crown relied upon to gain a conviction at retrial - but since claim it wasn't necessary after fighting all the way to the SC for its admission and used for the damning closing lines 'no man has the right to have his wife's brain on his shirt.' The Crown's prolonged arguments for the admission of the discarded evidence was noted by the SC at the leave to appeal hearing compared to the Crown's position that the evidence was of no significance.
For the Crown other non forensic science, never used in any Court worldwide before the Lundy trial or since, is said to prove the 'inevitable' guilt. It becomes an important hearing after defence counsel say that the COA got DNA evidence wrong - if interested google DNA on a spouse's clothing. A critical feature is now that the alleged Central Nervous Tissue (CNS) is known to contain animal DNA from the food chain and none of Christine's DNA.
What may emerge more clearly for the 1st time is not only a breakin (police say was staged), a neighbour seeing a ranch slider open at around 11am on a cold winter's night (police say doesn't matter - despite being near the time when Christine turned her computer off, previously said to have been 'manipulated' by Lundy in evidence since discarded), untested (lost) hairs found in Christine's hands along with fibres unmatched to any clothing owned by Lundy, there were also fingerprints found in the area of the breakin unable to be matched to any person who had visited the home in the previous 3 months, unknown DNA of 2 males found under the nails of both Christine and Amber but none of ML's. There was no attempt as far as I know to link DNA from the prints, to that of mystery hairs (Lundy provided his own hair as a sample and did not match), or to that of the fingernail DNA.
The 2 men have never been found to be discounted from blame despite that mother and daughter's movements were well known to police with last contact outside the home a around 6pm at a McDonald drive through where no physical contact was likely to have been made. As far as I know the McDonald staffer was never tested as the potential point of transfer, it would be unlikely that mother or daughter would have touched him let alone scratch him in some way.
Multiple peer reviewed papers show that fingernail DNA lasts approx 6 hours under the fingernails as the hands are used, washed etc. The Crown now say (conveniently one could say) that time of death was around 3am where as previously they said it was 7pm the previous evening.
By sheer 'coincidence' both those times (the earlier with a big unrealistic push, the reason for the Crown to abandon it along with a woman who claimed to have seen Lundy running away from the house in the evening dressed as woman) happen to be times when possibly Lundy could have been in Palmerston North.
The original slide taken from the shirt stain was unable to be tested because of degradation, but apparently some of the 'same' matter on the shirt was, found to contain animal DNA but none of CL's. The discarded science was said to by a narrow margin prove that the DNA was human - the crown had 'wanted' it be proved as being not only human (certainly not animal) but also female. A reasonable person might be concerned that 2 biological samples said to be from the same source would not match, 1 being said to be rotten and the other somewhat magically preserved, and that a biological sample would not contain the DNA of it's owner.
With that evidence (and enormous amount more) Jonathan Eaton QC will argue that Lundy's guilt is not inevitable and the COA should have ordered a retrial after discarding the junk science mRNA. There is also some significant concern about the Texas quasi Scientist which the COA would not hear, but which perhaps the SC will. That material, provided by an Attorney of the American Supreme Court, is more significant than what the Jury heard from one forensic scientist that the Texas lab was dirty and not operating to the standards required for forensic testing accreditation.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Time for a change to false imprisonment by design in New Zealand

Follows details of efforts made in the States to even out a false imprisonment rate of around 4%. Like NZ, people of colour, no doubt along with those from the lower socioeconomic stream, the less educated and the mentally unwell, all get the rough end of the stick in cases of false imprisonment. Fortunately in NZ the 'plea bargaining' is benign compared to the States where 18% of the innocent plead guilty. Something which can only happen because of pressure from police and prosecutors. These figures transposed onto the incarcerated in NZ would mean around 400 persons falsely imprisoned for all crimes. Not just the controversial murder cases that become well known here

We still have nothing of this type of initiative happening in NZ and the Criminal Conviction Review process, once implemented, won't be as active as police and prosecutors are in certain American states at sorting out false imprisonment. It needs to be remembered that false imprisonment is not accidental. It wasn't in the Thomas case or any of the others. It was deliberate and no one in authority paid a price for that. They got away with it without even a slap on the hand.

https://time.com/wrongly-convicted/?xid=fbshare&fbclid=IwAR0OGBnCXHXGEYzqRD18j-mKeclzEi-mZcSo-o355644Pp97loZULuww3zQ


Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Joe Parker v Ruiz fight number 2?

Andy Ruiz roughed up Anthony Joshua big time, the shorter man was right in Joshua's face with no stepping back. Joshua beat Joe Parker on points. Joe didn't let go in the way Ruiz did against Joshua, Parker talked about that after the fight the fight he had with Joshua, now we see what may have been.

Immediately on Ruiz beating Joshua,  Parker's stocks grew bigtime. The guy with no quit doesn't like to lose, that's what he took to Joshua - the written off underdog was going to bite. I think any such match between Andy and Joe is likely, Ruiz will want to show Parker the canvas to avenge his loss and Parker will want to do the same because of the feeling the fight was close, but maybe a hometown decision.  Parker is unfinished business for Ruiz. They need to fight.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The biggest mistakes in the Scott Watson case?

The few police and Crown officials that it increasingly looks like that framed Scott Watson made 1 obvious mistake - planting (or accidentally mixing up to rephrase it to a nicety) 2 blond hairs rather than 'find' some short brown hairs as well that could or did belong to Ben. Why? because no realistic thought was given to the scepticism that would attach to 2 hairs 1x15cm long, and the other 25cm long, not being found despite up 6 or 7 searches including specific searches of Scott's boat the Blade itself by ESR technicians. That was after police had searched themselves. One of the later searches in the lab was removing each hair from a blanket off the blade with tweezers, the concentration that requires would readily reveal recognition of 2 long blond hairs among 400 hairs much shorter dark hairs. It wasn't zombies at work but a scientist and technician working on an important case.

The seizure warrant of the Blade indicated the search was for bodies or body parts, exactly the right sort of language to ensure a warrant. After which followed the parade of the Blade towed through the town and port of Picton, creating strong symbolism, a couple missing and a local boat seized - for many of the public and some of the press it may have been considered as game set and match. Just where the details of 'bodys and body parts' emerged from is unknown, but it was sworn in the documents so must have a source to be legal - a situation I understand that has not been explained satisfactorily. It could have simply been police making it up, or 1 of the many undercovers working the area at the time being told that by an informant. Whatever the situation was it became the first strike against Scott Watson in a case which would always lack evidence, need prison narks, media propaganda, dodgy science and a co-operative Court to gain convictions.

Those 2 hairs as readers know, are according to police, the Crown, and at least 1 previous Minister of Justice the glue that 'holds the case' against Scott together. Those 1st searches of the Blade (whether or not the warrant details were believed to be authentic or not, I'd say not) were for blood, hairs, any other sign of the missing couple, or a murder scene. 21 years later nothing - except recognition of 1 big mistake - few people can believe with any certainty that the 2 hairs could survive their secrecy for so many searches only to be magically found together at the same time some 3 months after the couple's disappearance.

People have asked before, the excellent question what about Ben's hair? The excuse I have read was apparently the cost of testing, an unfortunate truth that Justice in New Zealand can rely on cost - something which can result in shortcuts. Shortcuts in this case by design, a single hair from Ben - without a pedigree of multiple failed searches as was required for the 2 hairs alleged, but never proven to be Olivia's, could have satisfied public doubt - at least in the short term until the nagging truth of a suspect ketch, the couple being seen alive on another boat after they were alleged to be dead set in, as it inevitably has.

So we are not considering that Scott is guilty because on the hair evidence he is not, the 2 hairs prove that independently along with information yet to be made public, although each point alone proves Scott's innocence. They also prove 1 mistake. If police were fitting up Scott deliberately or 'mistakenly,' 2 hairs backed up by the proof of a hair or hairs with Ben's nuclear or mitochondrial DNA intact, would have at least provided less concern after the 'mystery ketch' debacle. A human sheds between a 100 to 150 hairs per day, in a fight for their life they are likely to lose more hair as well. One of the police theories inadvertently helps reveal the 'mistake' - the Blade not arriving at Eerie Bay until the evening of New Years day and therefore having allegedly sailed to the Cook Strait and back quicker than a speed boat could. That theory needs to ignore that no screams were heard aboard the Blade where it was moored in the Furneaux Inlet, also for the couple to board unseen, no voices of the couple heard talking as they boarded or later in the cabin, but nevertheless alive on the Blade when it left its mooring and not protesting the departure around 7.30am. A man intent on kidnap or murder would not anchor anywhere near other boats let alone raft up to 2 boats with people on board, chat with the skipper of 1 before later the next morning go aboard hoping for a further drink. Nor would the couple, sensing a change in the purpose of their 'host,' co-operate by being silent. They would have made noise and lots of it,  knowing others on the boats next to them would have heard. Ben was a big man and Olivia was feisty, but we are asked to believe they were co-operating in their own peril. Considering all that was true for a minute, that meant that up to 20 hairs or more from both Ben and Olivia would have been on the Blade and easy to find in such a small area.

So discovery of Ben's hairs, that must have inevitably been on the Blade if the police theory is right, was a certainty and in fact not a big job at all. There was animal hair on the blanket and therefore in the 2 bags where the hairs were carefully put into an environment that ensured their contamination, something no scientist or technician would do to evidence, but would do with hairs which were already eliminated as being from Ben or Olivia. That was the purpose of the blanket search, a confirmation of the searches for hairs on the Blade showing no potential hairs belonging to Olivia,  the reason all the hairs were put together and not collected in the way in which evidentiary hairs would be gathered 2 years later in the Lundy case where the position of each hair taken from Christine Lundy's hands was shown in a drawing, before being placed in a separate evidence tissue for later examination -  investigators knew they would more likely than not have been the offender(s). No, in Watson they went straight into 2 bags after being taken carefully off the blanket by 2 ESR staff in essentially what was at the time considered to be the final confirmatory search that Ben and Olivia had not been aboard. Let's not pretend those staff were untrained, working in isolation and not involved in the Watson inquiry because they were, and they found no blond hairs leading to the logical explanation that if none of Olivia's, easier to find hairs were there, then there were none of Ben's as well. A stupid if possibly deliberate mistake.

Thinking about this further. Search of the boat by ESR for hairs and blood or body fluids, nothing found, but blanket taken for further search just in case. Further search completed by 2 technicians uplifting each individual hair off the blanket - confirming the results of the boat search - a double or triple check (if including police searches), but no hairs belonging to Olivia. Probably a logical step at the outset when a search was going on for a suspect ketch, with 100s of people reporting sighting it, some saying they saw Olivia and Ben aboard, arms tied behind their backs before the investigation fatally turned. We don't have the complete details of the blanket search either aboard the Blade, or in the lab, other than what those that did the searches said in evidence, there was no video recording as there would not be the day Vintiner 'found' 2 blond hairs at a time she had other blond hairs in the lab from the family home of Olivia, controvening accreditation rules. What we do know is that during the blanket search, hairs could have been easily processed into order, animal hair removed, then hair sorted by colour under microscope for finer detail - that's what would have happened if 2 blond hairs had been seen either on the blanket or on the Blade, it was critical evidence. Remember when the 2 hairs were found months after the crimes, they were immediately separated not put back in the bags to be looked at later.

Vintiner gave evidence for hours, a lot about her experience in what is now considered to be junk science 'hair comparison' methods. But 'hair comparison' does have a place in forensic science, if the victim had blond hair then sort blond hair out without mixing, short brown hair, dark or black hair and so on - do the same for further testing. One thing we know in abundance is that a lot of evidence was hidden in the Watson case, statements destroyed and altered, job sheets gone so it is a natural step to consider that is also likely with the 'hair searches.' The hair search on the Blade was well recorded with hairs of interest properly and separately gathered noting where they were found, that has not been hidden but the truth of that has never been properly acknowledged for its indication of what motivated the later searches. Vintener would claim she was busy as the reason it took weeks to search again, too busy to deal with the crime of the decade? No, it was a clear indication as to what happened in the Lab, the smoke and mirrors from which 2 hairs suddenly appeared when the investigation needed them. Just like the Crewe garden bed yielding a bullet shell after it had already been searched, and the room of David Bain producing a glass lens after it had been searched only to be found late at night by a detective not tasked with searching.

There were no blond hairs ever seen on the Blade by scientists and police, or on the blanket search by scientists in the lab where all the hairs were lifted individually with tweezers, or in the later of the first of 2 searches of 2 bags of hairs taken from the same blanket and treated without concern for contamination - because none were Olivia's, and if Olivia's were not there then neither were Bens. And that may be the biggest mistake in the Watson case, the belief that eventually the public would not see that the police and ESR had tricked a Jury not only by police accepting the impossibility of the 2 hairs not being seen in multiple searches but would compensate natural doubt of that with witnesses who claimed Scott had 'confessed,'  others that said that he talked about killing women in their presence - but who showed no concern for that fact and continued to socialise with him. As is hinted above there was an even bigger 'mistake' yet to be revealed which shows without doubt that Olivia's hairs were not those offered in evidence and therefore were not on the Blade or blanket. Without the first mistake, the 2nd would have possibly been harder to find - but was always going to emerge 1 day, because the mistakes completely fit together while the Crown case never has.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Lundy case hugely misunderstood.

Mark Lundy's case is due back in the Supreme Court later this year. The submissions by Jonathan Eaton QC and his team are a masterclass. From carefully reading them it is apparent how poorly the NZ courts have understood the case.

From the outset some of the public believe that Mark had his wife Christine's brain or spinal matter on his search. However it has never been proven that what was on the shirt sleeve was brain or spinal matter, let alone being human. No need to repeat the dodgy science used in the case which remains mired in controversy despite the Courts apparently apprehending otherwise.

What is less well known is that of the 2 marks, on the shirt Mark had voluntarily told the police he had worn earlier in the day on the night of the murders, all that was left for testing was a dab slide taken from the shirt sleeve. Internationally that dab slide was said to hold material that could not be tested. Consequently it was sent to an American who did not test the slide material because of its condition but instead tested 2 pieces of material cut out from the area around the small stains which were about the size of a pinhead.

That wasn't the reason for the trip of course and it has taken many years for it to become known that the area tested was already said to have been 'consumed' in unsuccessful earlier testing in NZ. I think everyone accepts that an empty glass contains no liquid - the empty glass in this case somehow became full again, something never heard by either of the Lundy Jury's.

What was said to have been taken from the empty shirt spots was material later fixed in paraffin which under 'testing,' not designed or approved for that purpose, was said to have located brain material. In a test 14 years later that material would be found to be from the animal food chain, cow, beef or pork. To overcome that somehow the Crown found a 'expert' who was able to say the material was human by the margin of 58% to 42% with an unknown success or failure rate. That evidence, heard by the Jury at Mark's retrial, allowed the prosecutor to say 'no man should have his wife's brain on his shirt.' Post trial that evidence was ruled inadmissible.

However the Court of Appeal said that didn't matter and they exercised the proviso which the Law says can be done so when guilt is inevitable. Unfortunately that test was changed by the COA to one of beyond reasonable doubt - a world first in British, Australia and New Zealand Courts, It is difficult to understand how the Court could make such a mistake and first look, that might have been deliberate to keep the controversial case under a lid.

Later it can be seen why that decision is important, and to do that we have to again go back to the paraffin blocks said to contain material which NZ scientists said had been consumed. Those paraffin blocks were tested for Christine's DNA but it was not found. However the NZ COA, not deterred by that made another major 'mistake', because elsewhere on the shirt was found Christine's DNA, just as would happen with any male's shirt from his partner and vice versa. However it needed to have been within the spot where the animal DNA was found, to have been directly associated with Christine as being her own - within the biological material not near it.

So let's go over that again, 2 small spots completely inconsistent with blood splash that left the silhouette of Christine's killer on the wall. A silhouette for which there is precious little information. I have not heard of any reconstruction of that silhouette for which it might have been determined the size of the offender, a relatively easy process but not something it is known that investigators looked into. Nevertheless the 2 small spots were consumed in testing by NZ scientists who found nothing incriminating within them, however the spots go along with the shirt to America and hello there is something there again, and the slide taken from those spots also in America is not tested despite that the material on it is visible upon it under microscope.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

A New Zealand first in Watson and Lundy?

Scott Watson and Mark Lundy are as different as chalk in cheese, not only physically but by their backgrounds at the time of their imprisonment. Scott was finding his way in life after his teen years in which he got into relatively minor trouble with police. His life had become the sea, in fact his links with the sea are lifelong. He had become a capable quasi engineer able to have built his own boat the Blade, a 26 footer. He worked in boat yards and sailed the coast having a girlfriend in the far north. He was such a casual bugger that he even told investigating police that'd he smoke dope on NYE 1997, information police would use against his friends he socialised with that day unless they co-operated with police. Mark on the other hand was married, with a young daughter and active in many community activities, he and his wife Christine had a passion for dancing, as did their daughter the 7 year old Amber. The Lundy's were the operators of a small business selling kitchens, hard working with Christine 'doing the books' while Mark dealt with customers who found him reliable and helpful. He preferred to let Christine do any debt collector such was gentle and obliging character. He was a builder by trade and when arrested for the murders of Christine and Amber he was renovating the house the family owned. He was essentially a salesman on the road who would put the packages together for customers orders and displayed his goods for sales in several stores where he would call into service orders on road trips away from home. Scott on the other hand at the time of his arrest was at home on his boat and where ever he sailed. His most recent trip had been to see his girlfriend in Whangarei, a rare enough event in any country where a young man would sail to visit his girlfriend and pickup work in the boatyards which had become his trade. It might be fair to say the sea was in his blood as he and his family had lived aboard a yacht for some years doing much the same as Scott found himself doing as he matured into a young man. So both builders of the type who could turn their hands to any sort of work but little else in similarity until their lives changed forever.

It's the changes that happened to both men which ultimately mean they shared a common experience. That experience until recently was not known to either man, both of whom are in minimum security prisons, one in the north island and the other in the south. I doubt that they given each other much thought over the years Mark is essentially a fish out of the water in prison while Scott has been more openly resistant to his imprisonment. No doubt both had an interest in the progress or lack of progress of the other's fight for freedom. While the 2 must hate what has happened to them, they have shown that in different ways. Scott with art,  some disdain and some rejection of the system, Mark with study and somewhat isolation of his generally outgoing personality. The 2 would unlikely ever be friends and may not have sympathy for one another in terms of their cases. Unfortunately, or perhaps very fortunately ticking along in the cases of both men has been a time bomb not understood fully by either, nor until recently their legal teams both of which have changed over the years. That ticking bomb has been forensic science out of the same bottle but applied to each case differently in order to get the same result - convictions on evidence which cannot now withstand scrutiny.

Christine Lundy died with 21 hairs in her hands and another red, to red brown hair on her buttock, that has never been evidence against ML. It has in fact been evidence never properly investigated despite being carefully handled to avoid contamination, collected with a high degree of forensic caution which recognised the potential value of finding a clue to the killer(s) of Amber and Christine. One area that was not gathered or stored with forensic caution was the shirt of Mark Lundy told police he had been wearing the day leading into the night they were killed - something in itself a guilty person would not do, just as Scott would not have revealed to police his dope smoking had he considered it would used to bring pressure on witnesses to lie. On that shirt there would later be found to be 2 microscopic spots or 'stains', one of which was said to be human brain after being rejected by forensic scientists worldwide as too necrotic to be tested, this after never being kept in forensically proper conditions but rather in a non-temperature controlled safe away from other exhibits. Human brain degrades on contact with air something which mankind have known for centuries and the ancient Egyptians even longer. It was that alleged brain which saw ML convicted, while  evidence of other offenders including not only the 21 hairs, but male DNA under both victims fingernails along with signs of breakin of the home, witnessed by a neighbour, where fingerprints were discovered that did not belong to any person who had visited the house in the 3 months prior to the killings.

We don't know how, or indeed if, Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were killed, there is an assumption that they were with no evidence in support apart from 2 hairs and the inevitable prison narks recruited to verbal an innocent man. There is no evidence that Ben and Olivia ever met Scott, no evidence that they were seen together or leaving Furneaux Lodge as a group on a naiad. So we now turn to evidence ignored in Lundy - hairs. There were about 400 removed from the Blade, many in isolation as scientist's carefully did their work. Then something unusual happened, a blanket from aboard the blade with visible signs of hair on it was bundled up and taken ashore. Consider that 2 years later a police officer would lift each hair from Christine's hand, wrap it in an individual tissue record a description and make a sketch as to where it had been located from - no chance of contamination in that process, the hairs never tested but rather eventually lost. How convenient.

In the Watson case, the same forensic science institute (ESR) bundled up the Watson hairs on the blanket and put it into a store from where it was later removed to have 2 technicians carefully lift each individual hair before apparently mindlessly putting them all into the 2 plastic bags where they would freely be contaminated by one another. Those technicians were looking for long blond hairs, everyone in NZ following the case knew that Olivia had long blond hair - none were found. So if there were no long blond hairs they were simply bagged - had the 2 long blond hairs been found they would have been isolated and not mixed with the 100s of other hairs but treated triumphantly as gold for the investigator's with the big gut instinct. In 2 later examinations of the hairs in a different room on a bench still the 2 long blond hairs were not found. So 3 searches and nothing found in ESR labs, not to exclude the careful searches aboard the Blade which must have satisfied ESR scene specialists that no hair of Olivia present or they would have been separated like the Lundy hairs. On a 4th search and after 2 visits to the Hope household for sample hairs - suddenly 2 blond hairs found, 'miraculously' at the same time the sample hairs were in the same lab in a breach of international forensic science protocol. Perhaps anywhere else in the world that 'evidence' would be rejected but not in New Zealand where authorities were on a mission to convict Watson come hell or high water, as they would do a few years later to Lundy in order to solve a second double murder mystery. There appeared to be more at stake than the lives of 2 innocent men with all their differences and dedicated family and friends supporters who have stood by both for 2 decades.

As readers will know ML was convicted using controversial non-forensic Immunohistochemistry (IHC), never used before or since in a criminal Court. IHC was the 'bright new thing' that didn't endure forensic process or methodology. In a forensic setting it is a 'junk' science. As readers will also know SW was convicted on the strength of the 2 hair evidence which all parties agreed may have been contaminated. I think that 'may' is now seen as an unacceptable risk of contamination in case like Lundy as well as Watson, of having no strong supporting evidence and plenty of evidence showing both men as innocent.

What is less known (although increasingly less so) is that the 'hair comparison' tests in Watson resulted in around 98% false conviction in FBI cases where hair comparison was used. It is simply a scientist claiming to have developed powers of discerning between hair and able to 'confirm' the probability that 2 or more hairs are from the same source - absolute codswallop. While the same tests if done in Lundy would have excluded him on  hair colour alone (he doesn't have red hair),  let alone DNA or mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing, it was simply not done at all. Although in Watson both DNA and mtDNA was used because police had a different objective, find hair to prove Watson guilty, and in Lundy ignore hair that would prove ML innocent.

Both cases use the word absorbed when speaking of potential evidentiary samples used, or potentially used, in testing. Scientifically, that means evidentiary material is absorbed in the process of testing. Both cases have extensive work, I will call footwork for the forensics, which is recorded and placed on file to be referenced by scientists doing any tests on particular material. It has been recently found that both case files contain 'footwork' not disclosed to the Jury that indicate both men are innocent, and not just because hair testing was not done in 1 case when it should have been. In Lundy there is a case note that confirms there was nothing on the shirt to test using IHC so therefore there can be no legitimate result excluding all the crime scene evidence which points away from ML. Similarly in Watson there is a case note which any modern day scientist would know negates the '2 hair' evidence and which was known to ESR in 1998.

When talking about a 'modern day' scientist. The principal scientist in both cases was the same person, Sue Vintiner. As a ESR scientist to this day. Sue will know that both these cases have serious flaws which she intimately knows about. but which she has never reported to the Court as is her job as witness first and foremost for the Court. Not only did she give evidence excluding both matters but when the understanding of the  so called science evolved, she did not notify either the Crown or the Defence. To this day she remains silent while 2 quite different men suffer the same fate - false imprisonment.

Why were the documents kept from the Court? Because individually they both destroyed the credibility of the Crown's allegations and arguably would have left the Court no alternative other than to discharge both men. When the 2 documents are considered together not only can it be seen that what I say above, that in Lundy tests were not done which would have excluded him, while in Watson the test results would be set aside as unreliable to the extreme but that the Crown kept that information secret from the Court with the compliance of ESR - purportedly an independent organisation from police, its potentially biggest customer.

For many people the Watson convictions don't make sense because they are 'boaties', know the sea and know boats but they were told to take a hike or that they were mistaken. In Lundy few people understood IHC but there would have been comfort to a Jury that the 'expert' found brain. Years later when the Crown case was in trouble they sought an American opinion to confirm that the DNA was both human and female. The result was probable animal DNA but neither Y or X chromosome was confirmed, so a new junk science was found called MRNA which was thrown out at the recent Lundy Court of Appeal hearing.

So 1 case had an informed public and many eye witnesses contradicting the Crown case. The 2nd had unknown fingernail DNA, mtDNA and nuclear (personal) DNA, and potential fingerprint DNA and hair evidence of which no attempt was made to link together because even 1 link would mean Lundy was not guilty, just as the secret documents mean both men are innocent on the Crown's own hidden evidence. Perhaps a New Zealand first but frightening enough that evidence in 2 cases was exploited in different and opposite ways to get the same result - innocent men found guilty.

Cheers.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The over ambition of the Watson Miscarriage of Justice

One thing which is plain in the Watson case (Marlborough Sounds Murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope) is the sheer size of the scale Rob Pope and his team needed to extend themselves to in their endeavour to frame Scott Watson and make it appear there were no other trails they did not fully investigate. I believe time will prove they over extended themselves in a manner that was not only unlawful but which has shown itself to be ill conceived and poorly thought through - or to capture a single word, reckless. Why would police be so reckless one could ask. Arrogance in this case.

Despite that before the Watson case Pope lost the 'poisoned professor' case where it was revealed he endeavoured to have witnesses change their accounts, we could say Pope had his modus operandi still intact. He was not dismissed from the police force in that instance, nor face an internal inquiry known to this writer. There are other factors to consider and the Thomas case is an excellent example as it remains the most significant Miscarriage of Justice accepted by the public. In Thomas, the Commissioner at the time was calling the shots, it was he whom by letter ordered that police did not investigate Len Demler's new partner. Even after all these years her version of events by timeline was exceptionally easy to break down. Of course when the balloon went up years later with the Royal Commission of Inquiry saying that the shell case was planted, police did nothing. To add insult to injury a couple of decades later our current Commissioner of Police would speak out in support of the Thomas head of inquiry Hutton at the later's funeral. I say, all of this goes to cycles that continue to repeat themselves in cases like that of Scott Watson's. When the Lundy convictions were quashed at the Privy Council a new officer was put in charge of the case, perhaps as a public display of police wanting to be seen as doing its job properly. For all the intent expressed by that move, the new officer in charge went down exactly the same track and, like his predecessor,  did not investigate strong evidence as to the real offenders.

New Zealanders often react with horror with some of the police shootings we see on video coming from America, the homeless being shot, the handicapped, the innocent. Despite that horror New Zealander may feel relieved that the same does not happen here when indeed a version of it does and has for decades, the setting up of the innocent. Pope arose from that arena with his conduct in the poisoned professor case completely ignored, if he had not already met Paul Davison QC he was soon to make that acquaintance of a man who, whilst now a High Court Judge, had the trophies of  the Tamihere convictions, and would later have both Watson and Teina Pora. I'll let readers decide what they think of that combination or indeed how it was ever able to come about then be ignored by the powers that be for more than 2 decades, even after the wheels fell off the Pora case, and now that of David Tamihere.

I don't think there is much that needs to be traversed in fine details of evidence about the Watson case other than to say what is now known. I'll make a short list:
Witness statements hidden or altered.
At least 80 suspect ketch sightings with the real number being in the 100s.
Co-operation between police and ESR which resulted in incomplete evidence given to the Court on the issue of the fundamental evidence in this case - the 2 hairs.
Evidence of the couple being alive after the were said to have been killed.
A witness tip as to where the bodies may have been which was ignored around a period when the Cook Strait was searched to, in my opinion, reinforce in the public mind, that the police theory was correct 'but the search for bodies unsuccessful because of the deep water.' Whereas the witness position indicated was not in deep water and chances were high that tide shift would not have had an impact.
Witnesses being convinced that Scott Watson had killed Nancy Frey and that police 'really needed' to put him away. Many of those witnesses changed their accounts, as did others who police knew had broken the law in minor ways.
That police had already investigated the '2 trip' theory and knew there was no evidence in support of it after which Paul Davison raised that 'evidence' after all witnesses had given evidence, allowing for no cross examination or normal planning of a defence after the depositions (preliminary) hearing.
The destruction of photographs, statements and job sheets.
The hiding of evidence and the list goes on and on.

The only flaw being that trail that was left carelessly behind by police who 'cleansed' the file, ignored or threatened witnesses. That trail is now in the hands of the defence and one day, soon I hope, will be in the hands also of the public.