Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Gail Maney Imprisoned for not Lying

Gail Maney Imprisoned for not Lying?
Found the time to listen to the Pod Cast ‘Gone Fishing,’ all 8 parts – available from Radio New Zealand and put together by Amy Mass and Adam Dudding. Certainly, is a comprehensive Pod Cast if not completely searching.
Much to my surprise it wasn’t Gail’s situation and the role she was meant to have played in the death of Deane Fuller-Sandys that was the surprise, but the role of Stephen Stone. This was mainly the result of the complete doubt that Maney is guilty. Because the Crown case relies on the death of Deane in the garage of the home where Maney was living using very questionable witnesses (who told multiple stories), and the lack of hard evidence as to whether Gail had even met Stone before the death of Deane. Then there is evidence which always sounded like complete nonsense for a so called ‘hit.’ Stone showing off the body in a boot, also ‘forcing’ others at the scene to shoot Deane. Those aspects of the case are the fantasies of a mad man, we meet him a little later and his name is Franklin – the OIC of the inquiry.
Add to that, considering that Gail is meant to have ordered the ‘hit’, there is nary a word about how he was paid. No disrespect to Gail but people such as Stone described to be - very macho and dangerous tend to do their own thing and are not likely to be robotic, let alone ‘advertise’ their work. As with a lot of these sensational stories relying on shock and horror the little details do not line up or have the ring of reality to them. There are now also retractions from 3 of 4 of the main witnesses.
When the Court of Appeal (COA) dealt with the first of those from a woman name Tania Wilson, it said that she was an “unreliable witness”, which even in itself is something for a Jury – not the COA. The COA seem unable to consider at its worst Wilson admitted lying and at its best – exonerated Gail – in fact either version could result in a fresh jury finding Gail innocent. Our COA have a terrible record in terms of Miscarriages of Justice – off hand I can’t think of any of the major ones which the COA has overturned.
I think it is reasonable to doubt whether Deane was killed at all because of the lack of solid evidence and the unrealistic narrative of the key witnesses, none of whom gave a single narrative but rather keep changing what they had to say until Franklin felt he had put together a ‘complex’ case.
So, if I understand it correctly – if Stone did not kill Dean, then not only is Gail innocent but so must Stone be on the same evidence. There is an absolute dearth of evidence on 1 aspect of the case which was not dealt with in the Pod Casts or in the media that I have been able to find – which could be critical to Stone’s claim of innocence also for the death of Leah Stephens the 2nd person he was convicted of murdering.
This started off as a blog on the ridiculousness I saw in the police first going to Gail for help, and when she chose not to speak ended up being charged with murder. The ex-cop in charge of the case Franklin is forthright as to his opinion that if Gail had told police what they wanted to hear she would not have been charged, just like the 2 men who gave evidence (under immunity) and admitted raping and killing Leah as well as taking part in the shooting of Deane. I was unable to find it, but I seem to remember an Auckland police man named Franklin who was responsible for 3 Tongan girls going to prison for a robbery for which they were later cleared. Someone might know if it one and the same man?
Anyway, after that start on a narrow point of how police first tried to lure Gail as a witness only to later charge her with murder - the full ‘blast’ of the dangerousness and ridiculousness of the case against Gail became front and centre way beyond the simple but telling point – that Gail could have sung for her supper. Franklin putting together that scenario, that if she ‘gave the order’ (seems so stupid to repeat that nonsense) but didn’t believe Stone would do it, in other words prove the case against Stone – she would not have been in the dock.
How Franklin dealt with Maney was the same way he dealt with 2 men who admitted murder and didn’t spend a day in prison – but he seems not to comprehend the gravity of that talking on and on about the care he took and so on. Justice? No way.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Something laid bare about the Lundy murders.

In the States the FBI knew about the unreliability of 'hair comparison' tests long before they announced recognition of the problem along with how many wrongful convictions resulted - around a 93% failure. The world (but apparently not the NZ authorities) may have found out about that in the 2015 Obama P Cast, but the information was by then over 15 years old (but not for NZ testers), a time during which both Mark and Scott Watson were convicted.

That failure rate, its delayed announcement as a junk science is a very telling about the way police and prosecuting authorities have continued to use poor methods leading to false convictions long after the problem was identified. The Lundy case was within 2 years of that of Scott Watson where hair comparison evidence was the primary evidence - yet 22 years later no admission from ESR or the Crown as to its unreliability. In other words, Scott Watson remains in prison (where Lundy followed him 2 years later) on evidence that had a 93% failure rate.

In the Lundy murders the same type of hair evidence (but genuine crime scene evidence) was 'lost' because, on the face of it, the evidence would have shown the obvious. Not only did the hairs found in Christine Lundy's hands not belong to Mark Lundy but their DNA may well matched other DNA found at the scene - primarily under the fingernails of Christine and Amber. That DNA was discovered to be from 2 unknown males, yet there was other potential DNA available at the scene in the unknown fingerprints, also in other places around the home - particularly where the breakin occured,

That means that the person(s) responsible for the Lundy murders left their DNA and hairs in the house, evidence not investigated past the point that it meant that Mark Lundy was highly likely to be innocent if the mitochondrial DNA in the hairs in Christine's hands matched the DNA found under her and Amber Lundy's fingernails. Or even if it didn't match, because overseas cases now show that fingernail DNA not matching the convicted person, on its own, can result in exoneration.

Stripping all other detail from the Watson case - the 2 hairs said to be Olivia Hope's - did not come from her and the science proving that is known by both police and ESR. They have known that, just like in Lundy - for 2 decades. We can understand now why police went back to the Hope household for more sample hairs, we can also understand why the hairs found in Christine's hands were not tested - they were visibly able to be seen not to be Mark's - the man police had already decided was guilty.

At the recent Supreme Court hearing into the Lundy convictions Jonathan Eaton, QC for the defence, told the Court that when the Crown 'changed' the alleged time of death police never went back to suspects who had alibis for the earlier time of death - pointing out the extent of the unfairness in the way Mark Lundy has been treated, as we see similarly to Scott Watson whose Jury also heard a fantastic and unbelievable story but not the truth about the 2 hairs. Both stories supported by junk science and prison informants but not by properly gathered and tested DNA.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Tide running out on the Lundy Convictions

Mark Lundy's recent appeal to the Supreme Court remains under deliberation. For anyone objective who attended the hearing there must be more doubt about Lundy's guilt than ever before. The 2 main points of the Appeal were whether the retrial had been unfair and secondly if the Proviso should have been exercised after certain scientific evidence was thrown out by the Court of Appeal (COA). The Proviso permits that notwithstanding that a trial may have been a Miscarriage of Justice, the court may decide to exercise the proviso of letting the verdict stand on the basis of 'inevitable guilt.'

The COA were satisfied that no miscarriage had taken place because of the association of Christine Lundy's DNA on Lundy's shirt near the contested spot of alleged human central nervous tissue (CNS.) In fact witnesses for both the Crown and defence had told the retrial Jury that the quantity or quality of DNA didn't not tell a specific story such as the COA held true. In fact a minor amount of DNA might indicate guilt whilst a large amount may not, the same issue goes to 'quality.' Unusual to say the least that the COA had not noted that witness evidence or indeed researched the matter themselves. Had they done so it seems they would have ordered a new trial for Mark Lundy.

The other point about a 'fair trial' putting endless legal argument aside is whether or not having heard evidence that the alleged CNS was more likely than not human had influenced the Jury. It would be naive to think it had not, it crossed the last bridge linking  Christine's DNA, CNS, human = murder.

The Supreme Court (SC) heard that the 'spot' did not contain Christine's DNA - a big problem for the Crown producing major doubt. For animal DNA to be found instead in the wash from the fabric surrounding the spot complicated 'guilt' even more. The SC heard of purchases of meat by Mark in the days before the killings. It also heard that there was no way of telling how long the spots had been on the shirt. Jonathan Eaton said that the weak signals of animal food chain DNA may have resulted from fatty tissue contact. In my opinion the weak signal is consistent with being the minority of DNA whilst Christine consistent with that of being the spouse. There were no animals in the Lundy household let alone animals considered part of the food chain.

That aside a lot of misinformation was remedied. Not in order here a few of things. Mark Lundy's tools were not used in the murders and the paint on the tools did not match the paint found on Christine. Furthermore Jonathan Eaton pointed out that there is not necessarily a connection between the attacker and the paint flakes because none were found on Amber. Furthermore he said that no one paints the blade on their tools an obvious point possibly not considered before. Phillip Morgan for the Crown had told the Court on day 2 that a witness Tupai was all over the place in his evidence and not sure the date when he saw the lights on a ranch slider open at the Lundy home at 11pm. The next morning he corrected that for the Court saying that the light on claim was confirmed by Tupai's phone bill but that he'd seen the lights on consecutive nights. Later Jonathan Eaton told the Court that it was recognized from the evidence that Christine was security conscious and it was unlikely she would have a door left open at 11pm. He followed that up by pointing out that at 11pm there was no doubt that Lundy was in Wellington.

Jonathan Eaton politely pushed over Morgan's 'theory' that because there was no sign of offenders moving about in the house that it must have therefore been Lundy - hardly logical at all. He also asked about the fingernail DNA of 2 male strangers found on the mother and daughter's hands, the untested 21 hairs found in Christine's hands along with the 40 fibres none of which matched Lundy's shirt or clothing, the lack of blood in his car and so on and the stupidity about the jewellery box being taken into ML's car covered in blood.

So the law was interesting regarding what a fair trial is, and when the proviso might fairly be used. Overall, it's hard to argue that ML has ever had a fair trial - there has always controversial or hidden evidence. However the best thing to emerge was the real narrative as to why Mark Lundy looks completely innocent - including that when the Crown tried to prove their 2 trip theory and fuel consumption they relied on manufacturer's fuel consumption specs. Which reminds me that the COA would not consider fuel consumption figures arising from tests on a race track, saying that a race track and street roads don't compare - clearly the COA had not read the details in the file that Mark was clocked at speeds of 140 to 180 ks per hour on his madcap home to his family managing to average 100ks per hour.

The truth is seeping out.

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.

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.