Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bruce Hutton: consumed by noble cause?

This article in today's Herald begins with: History has remembered Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Hutton as the police officer involved in planting the bullet casings which saw Arthur Thomas convicted of murdering Jeannette and Harvey Crewe. In the Hutton family’s first ever interview, his daughters tell David Fisher they remember a different man - one who would never plant evidence.

 The full interview ( is well worth reading despite that it faces the predictable assumptions that the late Hutton's daughters would hardly likely take a position against their father, nor indeed could it possibly solve the central question of not 'if' but 'who' planted the cartridge shell central to the false conviction of Arthur Thomas. Of course it is apparent that no one has ever suggested that anyone other than police investigating the Crewe murders could have planted the spent case. On the other hand the interview is very revealing about the mind set of Bruce Hutton. In the first paragraph, perhaps to show the kindness of Hutton, it is revealed that BH (Bruch Hutton) took home the Crewe family cat which he 'believed' had been sitting on the lap of Jeanette Crewe when she was shot. His daughters spoke about his engaging with the cat by expressing that he wished the cat could talk - hence revealing what BH went to his grave never knowing for certain, who had killed the Crewes. Fisher says this story bleeds colour into the black and white history of Bruce Hutton. Indeed, I think it does. Even in the 1970s the RSPCA rehomed cats, that a detective would take home the cat and wish aloud that it could talk - does indeed bleed colour. Equally, that BH apparently openly discussed details of a confidential murder inquiry (at that point not solved, and indeed never solved) with his family is a surprise. Erin O'Neil one of BH's 3 daughters says that the details of the cat that it drove their mother up the wall and that she though it to be a bit 'spooky.'

Another daughter Mrs Townsend is quoted as saying that as BH became the villain of the piece after Arthur Thomas pardon a point was reached where 'enough' was 'enough.' Mrs O'Neil reveals that BC warned them not to talk to the press because it didn't work because they didn't stop. An insightful revelation that BH was of a mind that the press were not compliant and talking to them didn't work because they didn't stop. Fair enough, but still overlooking the reason why the press have never stopped reporting on the Crewe murders because what they heard, and indeed were 'told' by BH, 'didn't work' because it was not plausible and it left the public doubts which continue today. Reading that it was hard not to imagine a cross individual telling the press something which may have been difficult to believe, and which certainly did not fill the gaps missing in a narrative - becoming angry because he was not instantly believed, or in some respects never believed.

As the interview deepens so does revelations of the mindset of BC '"As far as Dad was concerned, once it had got to court it was up to them. That was his faith in the justice system." If someone went through the courts and was freed at the end, Mr Hutton told Ms O'Neill: "You just wait for them to come around again," his daughters said. Of course possibly not realising that BC's faith in the justice system was that the system would see that he was right, and if it didn't he would 'wait for them to come around again.' In other words BH could not consider that he was wrong, if an accused was discharged he would take the opportunity 'for them to come around again' to prove, one assumes, once and for all that he was right. In the short quote about faith in the justice system, it shows no faith at all in my mind. In fact it shows somebody that is certain he is right and that there is no alternative, additionally that if the 'system' fails to recognise he is right - that he will wait for the opportunity to show them they are wrong.

There will be those reading this who could willingly accept that police in general do leave things up to the Courts. That is after all their job, to collect evidence and bring charges where evidence is of level that it could be concluded a person is guilty of a crime. However few would accept that it is also the police's job to invest in being right, to lose objectivity and not accept due process. From what BC's daughters have said, BH didn't have objectivity. Despite that he could never prove who killed the Crewes he apparently went to the grave 'knowing' who did taken from this comment in the article where BH tells another detective inquiring recently into the case - "No, I've got my man." Until the day he died, he would say to Ms Townsend: "That's all right. I've got to meet my maker. So does he."

It appeared in later life that BH was still consumed by the case in a manner inconsistent with his own claim of having faith in the justice system, by then however he was relying on the judgement of his 'maker' in a Court which for many in these times doesn't exist. So despite the colour being let into a 'black and white history' as Fisher calls it, a picture that remains black and white is still seen. BH was entirely clear that he was right, it was black and white apparently in his mind. For someone interested in these controversial cases it would not be unusual to anticipate that BH confirmed for many others his utter belief in being wrong. However, taking into account the uncompromising belief in being right would give concern. In reality the facts of the Crewe case are well known, that BH was the chief investigator is also well known, that he put all his evidence (yes, which must include planted evidence to be accurate) but failed to prove that he was right. That is nothing to do with the press, an ex Prime Minister Robert Muldoon pardoning the man BH was confident would also 'meet his maker', a Royal Commission and public opinion it is do with factual evidence and disquiet about the method used to convict Thomas twice using that planted evidence. I've used the term 'noble cause' in the title of this blog, while something of a cliché used to describe a general belief of why some police choose to plant evidence that means they have decided that the accused/suspect guilty, that is, know he or she is guilty and that to assist the 'system' planting evidence is needed to gain a conviction and avoid the possibility of having to wait until the person 'comes around again.'

I should point out here that when BH spoke about the coming 'around again,' Arthur Thomas was a man without any convictions, not a recidivist burglar or robber, but a farmer who for all intents and purposes has led a blameless life. So if BH was one of those police that pursued 'noble cause' thinking he wasn't starting from a position with a known criminal who had convictions but in a 'clean skin' who had once..., yes, given Jeanette Crewe a present years before they were both married.

More is revealed in the article about 'black and white' where a daughter reveals the following: Next door to their home in West Auckland there was an orchard. Other children in the neighbourhood enjoyed its bounty but the Hutton girls knew the fruit belonged to those who grew it. "That's how we were brought up. It was black and white. It was wrong or it was right. If it's not yours, it's not yours to take." BH was very firm in his thinking, there was no colour apparently, things indeed were black and white. He convinced himself that Thomas was guilty and that was the end of the matter,  what hasn't ended however is that a Royal Commission, along with a majority of the population are convinced that somewhere during BH's crusade to prove himself right, someone on the inquiry team planted a cartridge case fortunately unaware that the it could later be proven that the cartridge case had not been manufactured at the time of the Crewe murders. That BH made no effort to get to the bottom of that crime, the planting of evidence on his watch, along with never properly investigating 2 suspects, one arguably the killer and the other later claimed to be at least an accomplice after the fact was, to again use the phrase 'black and white' confirmation that in his mind there was only one conclusion, that was his conclusion and those not agreeing with him would meet 'their maker.'

Sadly, the interview touches upon the fact that BH kept a photo of orphaned child of the late Crewes, Rochelle on his wall. His daughters point to this as further proof either that their father was right or to give a view of his compassion. What the public know about Rochelle is that she had sought the most recent inquiry into the investigation of the killing of her parents, an investigation that has resulted in confirmation that Thomas should not have been charged and the cartridge was planted more than likely by police. It was she who could not accept black and white, or tunnel vision, she didn't accept the opinions of others forced upon her but rather to arrive at her own with all the information that should have been investigated and considered under Hutton's watch.

The full article follows......
Daughters Gail Townsend (left), and Erin O'Neil, and grand-daughter Mary O'Neil remember Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Hutton as an honest man. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Daughters Gail Townsend (left), and Erin O'Neil, and grand-daughter Mary O'Neil remember Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Hutton as an honest man. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Crewes' family cat came home with Detective Chief Inspector Bruce Hutton. It was called Rasty.
While living in the Pukekawa house where her parents were later murdered, Rochelle Crewe would have tested Rasty's patience in the way all toddlers do with cats.
As Rochelle slept, Rasty apparently did what cats do on wintery nights. Witnesses told Mr Hutton how he would curl up on Jeannette Crewe's lap as she knitted on the sofa in front of the fire. He was there, Mr Hutton always thought, when Harvey Crewe's brains were blown out on June 17, 1970.
The cat moped around after Mr Hutton at the murder scene until the detective took pity and adopted her. At night, after 18 hour-long days leading the murder investigation, he would sit and consider Rasty.
"By God I wish you could talk," he would say.
"It drove mum up the wall," recalls Erin O'Neill, one of Mr Hutton's three daughters.
"She thought it was a bit spooky."
It's a story that bleeds colour into the black-and-white portrait that history has created of Mr Hutton.
When he died in March 2013, it was 43 years since he took up leadership of the investigation into the murder of the Crewes. It was a case which would polarise the nation - not least because of the rise of Mr Hutton in the public's eyes as a key suspect in planting evidence on which Arthur Thomas was convicted. Mr Thomas was eventually pardoned but Mr Hutton's stature as the villain of the piece grew.
That's not the man he was, say his daughters Erin O'Neill (58), Christine Watson (63) and Gail Townsend (65).
Ms Townsend: "There comes a point where enough is enough."
Ms O'Neill: "Dad always said to us 'you don't talk to the press'. You know what? It doesn't work because they don't stop."
This might be the first time Mr Hutton's daughters have deliberately gone against his wishes.
Planting evidence?
"Dad wouldn't sell his soul for his job," says Ms O'Neill. "He was a very, very proud man. To cheat? He would not have got any satisfaction with that, when you know the sort of person he was.
"As far as Dad was concerned, once it had got to court it was up to them. That was his faith in the justice system." If someone went through the courts and was freed at the end, Mr Hutton told Ms O'Neill: "You just wait for them to come around again."
Bruce Hutton grew up outside Dargaville in a family with 21 children. His father had fought in the Boer War aged 17 and then been gassed in World War One. Mr Hutton left school aged 12, tried the army then - aged 17 himself - joined the police. He left for a period, then married and joined up again as he and wife Dorothy started raising their family.
Next door to their home in West Auckland there was an orchard. Other children in the neighbourhood enjoyed its bounty but the Hutton girls knew the fruit belonged to those who grew it. "That's how we were brought up. It was black and white. It was wrong or it was right. If it's not yours, it's not yours to take."
Ms Townsend remembers, at age 7, taking a packet of chewing gum from the local dairy. Mr Hutton smelled it on her breath and took her straight back to the store. "I had to work for them for a month without pay."
On a walk to the dairy, aged 9, Ms O'Neill found a handbag in a call box. She took it home and her father returned it to its owner who offered Ms O'Neill a 10 shilling reward. "No," said Mr Hutton. "She doesn't have that. She's only returning what's rightfully yours."
He instilled a regimented approach to life which saw shoes shining, discipline prized and a diligent rigour applied to all endeavours. His vegetable garden had dead-straight, immaculately-weeded rows and Mr Hutton's girls grew a little that way too - protected surrounds, environmentally safe. He made it clear, some boys - like unwelcome weeds - would not be tolerated.
For all apparent rigidity, Mr Hutton loved Christmas and as Father Christmas would sneak about the night before. Mrs Hutton would make Christmas cakes he would take to the prison. Ms Townsend: "Mum would say 'do I have to ice them or decorate them' and Dad would say 'how would you like to sit in a cold grey cell and have Christmas'."
They remember him as a fiercely intelligent man who shaved in the morning, singing loudly in Latin, and once had an ambition to be a surgeon at a time when university required resources far beyond the means of the sprawling family in which he was raised.
Once he left the house, he was a police officer. He worked hard, studied hard and rose through the ranks. He wasn't a talker. "He would listen and observe and when he spoke he would have weighed everything up," said Ms Townsend. "Dad would never arrest unless he was 100 per cent. He would tell me, 'you don't play with people's lives'."
This was the man who went to investigate the double murder at Pukekawa.
Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton, leading the police investigation, wrestles with a fresh problem as he leaves the Crewe homestead. Photo / NZ Herald Archive
Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton, leading the police investigation, wrestles with a fresh problem as he leaves the Crewe homestead. Photo / NZ Herald Archive
The daughters remember clearly the time following the murders. There was the heavy rain one August morning, recalls Ms O'Neill. Mr Hutton, pondering the downpour, said: "When you have rain like this, you never know what it's going to bring up." Jeannette Harvey's body emerged at Devil's Elbow in the Waikato River.
It was the first indication, she says, of a gun having been g used to kill the couple. The bloodshed in the house had sent the detectives down another track. "All they knew was they were looking for a machete," she says. "This is why they weren't looking for a cartridge case."
The daughters recall the genuine, intense concern Mr Hutton had during the time after the inquiry about some of those campaigning to free Thomas. Ms Townsend remembers her father's fear that his family would be targeted, and how she moved, married with two children, back into her parents' police house in Mangere in response to a perceived need for protection.
Mr Hutton came in the front door one night in a flurry, having driven past the family home and seen a blind a few inches above the sill. Inside, stark against the light of the room, were the necklines of family members above the couch nearest the window. To Mr Hutton they looked like targets. He insisted the family kill the lights and go to bed.
Personnel records released to the Herald through the Official Information Act show in 1973, then-Commissioner Sir Angus Sharp describing the Crewe inquiry as "one of the most involved ever undertaken by the police in New Zealand".
Mr Hutton was awarded a Certificate of Merit, with Sir Angus noting that "his devotion to duty over many years is well known and the diligence and zeal he showed in this case deserve special commendation".
"We never envisioned what happened after Dad died"
Along the way, Mr Hutton had found new love with Mary Plumley and he left the family home. He also left the police. A few years later, Mr Thomas was pardoned. From that time, Mr Hutton refused the National Party permission to erect its election billboards on the farm he owned in Mangere.
Life after the police was one of horse breeding and racing. "I think he missed [policing]," says Ms O'Neill. It did remain a significant part of his life. He sponsored a running trophy in Waitemata police district and would present the Hutton Cup annually.
Mary Hutton died of a heart attack on the Coromandel Peninsula and Mr Hutton later married for a third time, to Ivy, who survives him.
In his later years, Rochelle Crewe came forward asking Prime Minister John Key to reopen the case. For years, her photograph had hung on the wall in the Hutton home. Mr Hutton stayed in touch, through her caregivers, for years, and would have been saddened that the victims had taken a back seat to other controversies. "Through all of this, they have been forgotten. That's what dad didn't want," says Ms O'Neill.
Detective Inspector Andrew Lovelock, who led the review into the Crewe murders, visited Mr Hutton. Ms Townsend was told by her father that the questions focused on "regrets" and "if there was anything they could have done differently".
Mr Hutton told Mr Lovelock: "No, I've got my man." Until the day he died, he would say to Ms Townsend: "That's all right. I've got to meet my maker. So does he."
When Mr Hutton did go, in March 2013, the family felt the two-dimensional demonisation of him, which had bubbled along for decades, boiled over. They were exposed to a fierce public debate.
"We never envisioned what happened after Dad died," says Ms O'Neill. The eulogy at the funeral from now-Commissioner Mike Bush created a frenzy. "You couldn't mourn. You found out who your friends are and who you don't want to be bothered with anymore."
And then, in July 2014, came the findings of the review. It didn't support Mr Hutton's determined, 43-year long stance on Mr Thomas though it found significant evidence led back to the Thomas farm. Others should have have been investigated, it said, and the charge against Mr Thomas could not be sustained.
The police also finally conceded the cartridge was probably planted and, if so, by a police officer. Though the review levelled no charges against their former colleague, an independent review from David Jones QC said Mr Hutton should have been charged.
"It's like a knife going in," says Ms O'Neill. "It's like there is always something else.
When Ms O'Neill was told by police the Herald had sought her father's personnel file through the Official Information Act she sat down one evening - having talked to her sisters and mother - and emailed about the tragic "slandering of a man who served his country honestly and who believed in the justice system".
Now, 45 years after the murder of the Crewes, they have had their say. And there may yet be more to say.
"There's not many books written from the other side," says Ms O'Neill. "There will be a book written - it's already been started."
One day, she says, those who accused her father so strongly will die. One day she will be liberated, as others were when Mr Hutton died. "What has happened to Dad can happen to them too. I can say what I like."
Children love their parents, daughters believe their fathers - would you have the perspective to see clearly?
"Yes, because of the way he has raised us. It's injustice. And because justice has been such a part of our upbringing, it's the injustice that eats at you."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Teina Pora - back from the abyss.

I watched TV3 tonight to watch the half hour show on the now free Teina Pora. After 22 years of false imprisonment he exposed what few people would have considered. That after his 22 years inside for a crime he didn't commit his keepers (the state) simply walked away from him. No apparent concern about how the 22 years might have affected him, how he would adjust to his new found freedom, find employment, re-establish himself, according to him nothing, zilch. He is to find his own way, the state pays him no regard, does not automatically compensate him but instead places hurdles before him which he must jump to hold them accountable. He is persona non grata, an unwelcome stranger to a system that took from him 22 years of his life. Now the country will speculate on whether he should be compensated for being falsely imprisoned, weigh whether his now broadly accepted false confession as a child held in police custody without legal help justified his false imprisonment. Pora's case is an example of why compensation should be automatic, to show that a just system recognises its failures and does not expect a falsely imprisoned person to come back pleading a case for help. If what happened to Teina is disgusting enough, then the process by which he is expected to prove he should be compensated is equally or even more cruel.

But the man, to at least my surprise, rises above the system that seeks now to ignore him. He spoke of where his priorities lie - his daughter and grandson, of forgiveness, of wanting an apology and to ensure the futures of those closest to him. He shows how surprising life can be, that a public portrait painted by snippets of information, contempt and concern can at times be completely wrong, because Teina has not emerged a bitter man but as someone content within himself. He has a difficult road ahead of him with some hoping that he fails and reveals that the police in some way were right all the way along - that even if Teina didn't kill Susan Burdett he is a bad bugger and should have been in prison anyway.

New Zealand should be indebted to Teina Pora not only because of the way the Justice System stole 22 years of his life and now chooses to ignore him apart from some cumbersome process to which he must submit cap in hand, but because of his dignity that the system could never rob from him but which he kept intact and build upon as a lesson of right over wrong.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lundy - 2 unfair trials?

When I read parts of the Crown's closing address in the Lundy retrial I was troubled. The Prosecution closing address was heralded as 'brilliant' or similar by Steve Braunius of the NZ Herald. He had reported on the trial from day one and wrote that the closing was something of a surprise package, he would later write after the verdict that he thought Lundy was innocent. That caused me to think of what a closing address actually is in reality. In theory it is surely a summation of facts and circumstantial evidence with a cross to reasonable speculation built from those facts. Fair enough really, apart from the fact that in the Lundy retrial the brilliance of the closing was speculation based on speculation rather than fact. What the Crown had needed to bring to the trial was clear, and undeniable evidence beyond reasonable doubt that material found on Lundy's shirt was the DNA of his wife. They couldn't do that, so they weaved a picture instead, a mirage.

First of all there is clearly still a defence for Lundy if  such DNA had been found on his shirt. However, all that I heard or read was that material found on his shirt was claimed by prosecution experts  to have been Christine's DNA with defence experts saying that it categorically wasn't Christine's DNA or that it wasn't conclusively proven by the Crown (or the experts called by the Crown) testing procedures, to be her DNA. Before going on this is a suitable time to recall that Mark Lundy had been given a retrial partly on the basis of a hidden opinion by a Crown advisor of his expert view that the DNA was too degraded to be reliably relied upon to maintain a conviction against Lundy. Accordingly, the Crown were tasked with accepting that view and either deciding not to hold a retrial or find 'fresh' evidence proving the NZ pathologist was wrong whilst the American scientist whose evidence the ultimately relied upon was right. By finally deciding on a retrial they needed to find someone who could take the material into 'safe' territory as something that could be relied on to give a reliable testing result. By all accounts, having chosen the retrial, they didn't manage to get a universally reliable testing result using peer reviewed methods. More about this later, in the meantime back to that closing.

Had there been an absence of any concerns about the validity of opinions regarding the claim that Lundy was found to have his wife's DNA on his shirt I don't think there is any argument that the closing was appropriately able to make purchase of that as a fact. However, no such unequivocal facts exist. What does exist are certain claims and counter claims. I have to ask myself how the hell does the Prosecutor get away with such mesmerising mantras as to the effect of 'he [Lundy] had no business having his wife's DNA on his shirt.' Is there an assumption abroad in the NZ Judiciary that it is all right for a Lawyer to summarise a case to a Jury without the normal qualifications that Lawyers are usually most careful to employ, as looks the case here? Of course 'may have been' or 'you might think having heard the witnesses' is a far less compelling narrative, but in the Lundy case correct because it avoids confusion, it extends doubt where doubt actually exists. I seem to recall evidence that the DNA may have been animal DNA if DNA at all.

So where is the line that the Prosecution appear to have breached? Now that the case is under appeal I look forward to perhaps seeing that line tested. If there were ever a case when a Judge should have insisted on a Prosecution closing being based solely on fact, rather than speculative extensions built from uncertain forensics, Lundy surely should have been that case. After 14 years or so there is no conclusive proof that Lundy had his wife's DNA on his shirt, not conclusive beyond reasonable doubt according to Dr Stephen Bustin called by the defence whose article "The MIQE Guidelines: Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments" has been cited over 3000 times.

Below there is a comment from where I have gathered "The MIQE Guidelines: Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments" from Chris Halkides on another post here which refers to the Lundy case. A click on Chris Halkides name reveals his professional interests in reviewing the credentials of Dr Stephen Bustin as a defence witness. This adds to the disquiet about the Lundy closing and verdict. Quite clearly is shows that Dr Bustin, a leader in his field, would never go where the Prosecutor went with his story, because it was a hopeful explanation that could convince a Jury of something that was doubtful. The Prosecutor said unequivocally that it was Christine's DNA yet a leading researcher whose publication on real time experiments, that has been referenced over 3000 times, could not agree with the test methods relied upon by the Prosecutor's witnesses and consequently the results which the Prosecutor, wrongfully it may be argued on Appeal, was claimed to be conclusive by the Crown. It was never conclusive, not in the first trial and not in the second so how was Lundy given a 'fair' trial when the Judge allowed the Crown to close using speculation based on speculation and not fact. It's not fair in my opinion and touches upon a grey area in our system where reality can depart and be replaced by fiction. It is a fiction that the DNA found on Lundy's shirt was proven to be his wife's DNA. It will also be a fiction if the Court of Appeal 'place' themselves in the mind of Juror's and determine that the Jury having 'heard all the evidence and counter evidence, having been warned by the Judge about [opinion] evidence to use their common sense when addressing its value either for the Crown case, or against it' were the Judges of those sole 'facts.' First of all they weren't facts and secondly therefore, the Prosecutor ought not have been allowed to set them out as facts. This grey area of 'Juror's mind' is a modern day witch craft, if some of the Jurors were capable of distinguishing theory from facts there is no test that allows a conclusion that there were some who were not - and that therefore to avoid the 'grey' the Judge should not have allowed the Prosecution to claim that it was 'Christine's DNA' only that the Crown had opinions that it was.

Obviously the qualifications would have weakened the force of the 'brilliant' closing, however, would have left little room for doubt as to what any Juror 'might' have thought. Relying on that to be spelt out by the Judge later, was not only too late, but too dangerous. Am I being too cautious? I don't think so, I wanted  to see a fair trial - Lundy was entitled to it by Law. Were opinions sent abroad from the Courts through media and other snippets that Lundy had his wife's DNA on his shirt? They were, and I know that having read the subject on Kiwi Blog, letters to the editor, and even reports of it having been spoken about on talkback radio - Lundy had his wife's DNA on his shirt, end of story.

So the 'fact' is deeply within the public mind but who knows to what extent, (and that is the question for the COA if this is a point on appeal,) whether or not it was challenged by the Defence at the time or rebutted in the Defence's own closing - the extent of the damage to a fair trial cannot be known, nor can how deeply planted the Prosecutor's mantra was in the Jury's mind, or that of some Jurors. It was speculation based on opinion that was divided that the matter was DNA at all, let alone belonging to Christine,  further speculation by the COA as to the affect is arguably improper. As I referred earlier, in the wider picture should the Crown be able to cite as facts things which are not conclusive at any time - or more particular in support of a very weak case. No, a 1000 times no. The Prosecution can use what they have honestly, not repeat something over and over to a Jury painting a picture using paint that 'may' exist but which can brought to life with brilliant oratory to a Jury whose capacity of differentiating 'fact' from 'speculation' can only be unknown.

Just as an aside here and given thought whilst pondering great oratory, Peter Williams QC, now in fact Sir Peter Williams QC, fairly regarded as a brilliant legal strategist and orator, interesting to consider that had he been involved in Lundy's defence he may well have objected loudly and in front of the Jury, as well as in chambers, that the Prosecution were trying to take advantage of conclusive evidence that didn't exist, and continued to do so each time the Prosecutor made the claim about the DNA again, and again, in his closing. I also 'speculate' (because this is not fact, but rather an attempt to show the damage that can be caused by a Court remaining passive, assuming the thoughts, prejudices, biases or comprehension capacities of Jurors and how that might be corrected in summing up) that Sir Peter might also have argued strongly in his closing that the Crown wanted the Jury to believe something which the Crown had not proved, and they did that to show that Mark Lundy could have killed his own beautiful daughter whom the Jury had heard he loved deeply. On return of a guilty verdict he may have asked to poll the Jury (if such is still allowed) or even asked them if they accepted as 'fact' that there was conclusive evidence of Christine's DNA having been found on Lundy's shirt.

Of course these speculative comments about William's approach, had he been involved, are an speculative illustration of what can happen when opinion is allowed to be confused with fact, despite the way it may be attempted to be put back in order later. More is needed from the Courts, more was needed from the Court in the Lundy case. The Prosecutor should not have been allowed to speculate on speculation - it was too damn dangerous. Something else that lingers about the Jury trial are the relatively common 'guesstimates' that NZ scientists give in evidence at times. From memory in the Lundy trial one expert gave evidence that the DNA was 4million times 'more likely' to have come from Christine that any other person. Well, I've worked out some similar arithmetic that the particular scientist was 4 million more times likely to be wrong if he or she calculated such resolutions not using peer reviewed methods.

Remember also, the NZ pathologists who said the DNA was too degraded to be relied upon and whose opinion was withheld, wrongly by the Prosecution in the first trial - not only was his opinion not put the Jury, or revealed to the Defence - but the Prosecution went onto 'find' a scientist who would say that it was Christine's DNA using a method which was not reviewed at all by his peers at the time, let alone accepted. Trial 2 arrives and the Prosecution forensic witnesses are at loggerheads with the views of an peer accepted expert's opinion who said that he would be very reluctant to accept the RNA work against Lundy if it was offered for publication.

I freely admit that I have the scantest ability to clearly follow the testing and procedures that Dr Busten has been able to set out as a model  sought for over 3000 references, a number more than the entire number of homicides in New Zealand over the last 20 years or so, and that the speculative reference that Sir Peter Williams might have made to the Jury that the Crown stretched the science in an attempt to prove something that didn't happen - that Mark Lundy killed his beautiful daughter, could have influenced me as a Juror to conclude that Mark Lundy didn't get a fair trial.

We know from media reports that the appeal is based around the forensic evidence. Well and good, but there will be others beside myself who will be interested to see how it is that in a trial it can be said that a man had DNA belonging to his wife on his shirt when the proof of that is inconclusive.

Cheers to Professor Chris Halkides for the following:

Chris Halkides has left a new comment on your post "Lundy resentenced; but is it over?":

I have recently had a chance to review the credentials of the defense's two main expert witnesses against the RNA evidence. Both are very good, but Dr. Stephen Bustin's credentials are superb. He has written books on the subject of how to quantitate nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) by polymerase chain reaction. His article "The MIQE Guidelines: Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments" has been cited over 3000 times. He said that he would be very reluctant to accept the RNA work against Lundy if it were offered for publication. I don't see how it could get any clearer than that.