What ever your positions are on the guilt or innocence of any of the cases I mention put that aside for sake of the argument about what it must be like for Tamihere, Pora, Thomas, Hall, Lundy, Bain and Scott Watson to see Rewa convicted this month for the murder Teina Pora spent 2 decades falsely imprisoned. Who can know what Teina Pora might feel about the unprecedented event, he may not yet know himself how he feels as he still struggles to find his way after over 20 years of false imprisonment. Not surprisingly both men came from families where some members spent time on the wrong side of the law.
For the entire group it is probably fair to say they had a sense of anger. For Thomas, Bain, Hall, Lundy and Watson they were not looked past for other offenders. In all those cases other potential offenders were obvious, in fact in Bain the Jury answered the question was it ‘Robin or was it David?’ by find David not guilty when he finally had a fair trial. Len Demler who gained financially from the results of the death of his daughter Jeanette and her husband Harvey apparently brought no attention to himself or his new partner for not helping in the police search for the couple. In Lundy, probable offenders left finger and footprints behind, DNA, fibres and 21 hairs were found in Christine’s hands all of which were never traced, and with the hairs not used for mitochondrial traces. Alan Hall, http://i.stuff.co.nz/national/2779008/Group-asks-for-murder-case-review, never fitted the description of the attacker of Arthur Easton, a person described as a young Polynesian or Maori and not an older, much shorter European man, yet he still went to prison The Watson case, even today, has at least 3 suspects who were never interviewed, and 2 of who were since the disappearance of the couple Ben and Olivia were sentenced to life for murder.
In Pora it has been known for over a decade that Rewa was most likely the offender. In fact his name had been given to police by one of the victims pg. 114 (https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=gBrvZ2zsEMoC&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118&dq=malcolm+rewa&source=bl&ots=_bNEyok30k&sig=ACfU3U0V1WAVDXT5gmeoSltDmwRiY870NA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjIpLqX_dTgAhURWX0KHfUBB8Q4FBDoATAHegQIBBAB#v=onepage&q=malcolm%20rewa&f=false), Arthur Taylor has the belief that Rewa had police protection: https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/08/15/exclusive-guest-blog-arthur-taylor-why-i-believe-malcolm-rewa-is-a-police-informant/ If that is true, and I am also aware that Rewa may well have been an informant, then Pora was not only sacrificial to solve a case of high public interest but that some police at least knew from the outset police had the wrong man. It has always been clear that the strongest evidence of Pora’s innocence was in his inability to take police to the Burdett house or even give a description of her. Millions of dollars were wasted on a story that had no foundation and allowed Rewa to continue his spree of crimes.
Meanwhile in Lundy there is good reason to believe the true offender(s) will be found having left both DNA and hair at the scene, along with fingerprints. While in Watson there are sound reasons to believe police could still find the perpetrators, some of whom have potentially been involved in similar crimes. To my mind the missing Swedish couple David Tamihere was convicted of killing is potentially solvable with a fresh look at the case and a deathbed confession which is now on record. Regardless, even the NZ Court of Appeal will struggle to say that David had a fair trial when at least one of the 3 main witnesses perjured himself after which that Court relied upon the evidence of the perjurer, Conchie Harris, to uphold the convictions.
Few NZers will believe that Arthur Thomas was guilty, and few would not accept that Arthur is owed an apology, such as that afforded Pora when police had no choice but to admit their wrong doing in that case. On the subject of ‘Arthurs’, with Arthur Taylor now released and rehabilitating himself on a good diet and exercise as he comes to terms with 40 years of imprisonment that had its beginnings in wagging school before being sent to a boy’s ‘home’ where he became trapped in what would eventually be a criminal lifestyle, may yet take a further interest in some of these cases and turn his attention not only to paid informers but their enablers.
Various Governments have pussy footed with police and Crown malfeasance for too long. We’ve had planted bullet shells, glass lens, hairs, paid informants and always the same excuses with only one constant – that nothing has changed. This year it was revealed again that the main informant against the late Rex Haig confessed to many people, yet police refuse to release the details. That means the potentially guilty man is still being protected by police and has ‘immunity.’ In fact, immunity should and can be reviewed as the process is a stay of prosecution as happened with Rewa after his 2nd acquittal. An acquittal now shown as having been highly unlikely to have happened if the innocent Pora had been released from prison and not left to rot to hide the darkness police employed to have him falsely convicted.
There was much argument about the sanctity of a ‘stay of proceedings’ and its usefulness in cases of immunity where the guilty person might otherwise go free. However, for the 1st time in NZ history to my knowledge, the power to ‘un-stay’ a stay was realised to be necessary because of, at least in part, police and Crown malfeasance. Without the stay being lifted the NZ public would never have seen a true and fair trial of Malcom Rewa. The Rewa case has broken the back of the institutionalised protection of the guilty, as have the prosecutions of Arthur Taylor, Mike Kalaugher, and Jenny Kalaugher of Conchie Harris who was ‘let go’ from a life sentence for 2 killings which he said were ‘like eating an ice cream’ in less than 10 years for lying his guts out for grateful police. Finally Justice peeks through the dark world that has becoming policing in all the cases mentioned here and many, many others. Time for a clean out, and public scrutiny of the enablers.