Saturday, December 1, 2018

Lundy and the sea of science.

Mark Lundy is soon to turn 60, just before then his papers for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court will be filed in what continues to be one of NZ's most controversial cases. One that will not go away. In the last 2 years the questions of guilt and innocent have returned to 2 shirt spots which are claimed to have contained Mark's wife's central nervous tissue 'associated' with her DNA. In other words a slam dunk of guilt according to our Court of Appeal.

Recently when doing a little work on another case of interest, that of Scott Watson, I spoke to a critic of Scott's. The critic was essentially a legal professional of some standing but not a lawyer. That person told me that Scott was guilty of another crime 'but the police didn't have the evidence.' That is one of the most astounding statements I've heard a person ever make about another, on that basis everyone in NZ is guilty of some thing or other, but the police don't have the evidence. It reminds of the 2 spots allegedly 'found' on ML's shirt. For 18 years they have been spoken about in tandem, yet 1 of the spots has no relevance because it has not given any conclusive test results. In fact, logically there are no scientific connections that link the spots except that police believe they are associated 'but don't have the proof.' The Courts have followed suit and this is how prosecutions can work, something is made from nothing, a link is inferred despite not being able to be proved and the Court does not object.

Of course if there is no precise proof then the 2nd spot is of relevance to the case against ML, it must rely on an unproven 'association' to DNA. Either, for that matter is the 1st - the one meant to contain Christine's brain matter. We need to look at that spot and the quandary the Courts has got itself into over that evidence. I used the word 'associated' DNA above. In fact ML has his wife's DNA on his shirt like possibly every other married man in NZ has his wife DNA somewhere on his clothes and vice versa. However the suspect material said to be CNS (central nervous system) had no identifiable DNA at all. The Crown were unable to prove the DNA was even human and in fact in tests it showed faint traces of being animal.

To reflect on that CL's (Christine Lundy's) DNA on the shirt in 2 particular areas - but the whole shirt not tested for DNA. The alleged CNS purportedly arriving on the shirt at the same time from an open wound - does not have her DNA inside. In fact it is missing millions of neurons the building blocks of CNS, and has traces of animal DNA. No one has, or can explain that in a way that points to ML's guilt. What should have been on the shirt was CL's DNA, and inside the spot should have been her DNA as well, both surrounded both with wound debris - a lot of it, because there was the blood shadow on the wall where of Christine's attacker. No scientist has ever been able to show that shadow fitted ML, or been able to explain how it can be said CL's DNA and the spot arrived at the same time - because that is what is needed to make the evidence relevant, that along with CL's DNA actually in the spot, not just surrounding it and with millions of neurons missing.

There is a lot of scientific papers about the association myths of DNA. One of the first points is that no one can tell when DNA arrives somewhere, so with a spouse it could be any time, even before a shirt for example was washed. Also the quantity has no significance, in 2 traces of DNA in the same area one cannot say that the larger amount is connected to the crime and the lesser is not. This is the corner our COA have painted themselves into. But there is also another factor.

In 2014 a Dr Miller, a man who has vowed never to return to New Zealand, and one must think because of concerns over 'brain samples' he acquired illegally, did a 'parallel' test to show his novel testing techniques could be relied upon. He took a sample brain that may have already been preserved and placed in conditions where he claimed it had 'air dried.' He then stained it using an IHC technique which tests known samples for disease or abnormalities, but he used to 'show' that it was brain despite that the stain was not brain specific (meaning would only react to brain.) Following which other IHC practitioners (neuropathologists) looked at the sample through a microscope. None of these persons were forensically trained, they all said it was CNS tissue by comparative testing using a subjective technique which has essentially fallen off the 'forensic scientist's check sheets now. The same process used in the Watson case where an 'expert' looked through a microscope and said that something compared with something else in respect of 2 different hairs to 'confirm' their probable source. That process later showed to have a 93% failure rate in FBI hair comparison testing methods conducted in cases where hair was used as conclusive evidence.

In the Lindy Chamberlain case, 'experts' said they saw blood in samples taken from under the dashboard of the Chamberlain family car after a staining process similar to IHC (and also novel) was used. Later the 'blood' was found to be underseal or noise suppressant material. In Chamberlain, like Lundy and Watson - no one could tell when the alleged 'blood' had arrived behind the dash. Just as in Watson no one knows when the alleged hairs of Olivia arrived in the lab (or more to the point if they are Olivia's hairs at all, or as in Lundy the alleged brain (less its millions of neurons and attended by animal DNA) arrived on the shirt compared to the known DNA which may have been from a sneeze or transferred from other clothing. Then why so little alleged CNS (no bone, sinew, skin or flesh) but an abundance of DNA during the course of a horrific killing?

So these are all things common in these controversial cases where someone is guilty 'but the police don't have the proof.' I challenge any reader to explain the Lundy shirt 'CNS' with no neurons. And I do that with confidence that Miller and police pulled a fast one in their 'parallel' test with their stolen brain. Why? Because Miller did not report results throughout his parallel test which indicated the donor's DNA was not present or when it began to 'disappear.' He also did not report when the neurons where present in the DNA or when they began to 'disappear.' Just as NZ 'scientist' did not report the presence or lack of peroxide in the 2-hairs in the Watson case, and still has not. And just as 'scientists' looked through microscopes and said underseal was blood in the Chamberlain case.

Forensic science can be daunting in the hands of some people, and can be misused. It has been misused in all 3 of these cases, CNS without neurons or DNA of the donor, mystery hairs confirmed as belonging to somebody by the eye of an expert using a now discredited method, panelbeaters underseal becoming blood.

In the sea of science that is the Lundy case, why hasn't one qualified person explained why CL's DNA is not contained in the spot claimed to be her brain (or CNS) material. When police chose to support Miller's tests with newer, fresher tests observed by others, why has nobody reported whether the brain used to emulate Miller's original test had neurons after it had been air dried and examined, or whether or not the Donor's DNA was still traceable? At some point along the way the alleged CNS on ML's shirt lost its neurons and identifiable DNA (if it ever had any of each) and picked up animal DNA. Surely the same must have happened to the donor (sample) brain or is this a case like the one the person explained to me about the Watson case 'they didn't have the evidence'? As a final point DNA denatured in some way by time or other processes can be reinstated, but that didn't happen in Lundy either.

Neurons in the brain and central nervous system:

"The basic unit of the nervous system is a nerve cell, or neuron. The human brain contains about 100 billion neurons. A neuron has a cell body, which includes the cell nucleus, and special extensions called axons (pronounced AK-sonz) and dendrites (pronounced DEN-drahytz). Bundles of axons, called nerves, are found throughout the body. Axons and dendrites allow neurons to communicate, even across long distances.
Different types of neurons control or perform different activities. For instance, motor neurons transmit messages from the brain to the muscles to generate movement. Sensory neurons detect light, sound, odor, taste, pressure, and heat and send messages about those things to the brain. Other parts of the nervous system control involuntary processes. These include keeping a regular heartbeat, releasing hormones like adrenaline, opening the pupil in response to light, and regulating the digestive system."

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Scott Watson '2 hairs' theory is broken and busted.

I've written about the '2 hair's theory in the Watson case before. Between a prisoner and their freedom can be just the smallest piece of evidence and so it is in the Watson case at least since 2013. It was then when Justice Minister of the time, Judith Collins, claimed they were all that was needed to keep Scott in prison after other aspects of his case were weakened evidentially and in the established process of Law.

The first of weakened aspects of Law or evidence, related to the '2 trip theory' (this is a case where '2' features a lot.) On appeal the Court of Appeal (COA) referred to 'extensive cross examination' on the '2 trip theory' which the had Crown pulled from the coals of the fire of their burning case when there was no proof that Ben and Olivia ever went aboard the Blade. In fact, there had been no cross examination of the '2 trip' theory at all because it was only raised after all the evidence was heard and the Crown got away with it assisted by a helpful Judge. Part of the expression of Defence Counsel at trial is captured in the Doco 'Doubt,' and is worth watching as the defence team shake their heads in one of the worst abuse of the trial system seen in a NZ major trial takes place. It sits alongside the communications 'caravan' police parked outside the High Court during the Thomas retrial when police also socialised with jurors.

Kristy McDonald QC, the reviewer of Scott's first Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPOM) application  (submitted in 2009 and rejected in 2013) acknowledged the COA's 'mistake.' However, rather than send it back to that Court as was the onus on her under the legislation, she instead said it didn't matter overall because of the strength of the '2 hairs.' The Minister agreed with that publicly without securing her position by asking for an update on the forensics testing which move rapidly in the modern times. That would have been a prudent decision and allowed Scott to be freed over a decade ago. What is less appreciated was that McDonald when summarising the 2009 RPOM application referred to early 2000s COA decisions in the Bain case to dismiss the application. By then however both Bain decisions had been overturned by the Privy Council and so the reviewer was relying upon Judgements that had been overruled. She chose the older judgements which were found faulty instead of the PC judgement that had superseded them. The essence of the difference between the overturned Judgement and the fresh evaluation was to look at points for and against exercising the RPOM in isolation as the NZ COA had done in Bain,  when compared to the Privy Council ruling that such points needed to be looked both in isolation and in continuity of the overall evidence. The difference being in Watson that the 2 hairs were looked at alone and not with their invariable and proper connection to a 'fact' which was that not one witness confirmed the couple going aboard the Blade or even seen, or heard with Scott. That is a big and critical difference. For Scott to be guilty according to the primary evidence, the hairs had to be shown to be beyond reasonable doubt Olivia's, backed up by proof of the couple ever being aboard the Watson boat Blade.

But back to the 2 hairs, the 'miracle evidence' 2 long blond hairs found in a lab after many previous searches. The only long blond hairs out of nearly 400 shorter dark hairs, one 15 cm long and the other 25 long. But there happened to be another 'miracle' discovered in relatively recent times - the police who investigated the case knew that Olivia had her coloured with peroxide just weeks before her disappearance (peroxide lasts up to 2 years in the hair). That information was required to be submitted to ESR and indeed eventually to the Jury. The reason for that is the international recognition of the damage peroxide does to hair and the exclusion of it being analysed in the majority of testing labs worldwide (certainly NZ's as we had no specialist tester at the time or even an appropriate dedicated laboratory). The reason for that is basic, to ensure time and money are not wasted on hairs from which a test result was unlikely, or indeed prove unreliable. Strike 1: on the '2 hairs' easily seen but not found after multiple searches, no disclosure about peroxide, NZ didn't have a specialist DNA unit or hair-testing facility staffed by competent and accredited personnel, in fact ESR at the time was working toward overall accreditation but had not achieved that standard.

Somehow that information was hidden, kept from the Jury and Court. There is a reason for that, is the 'mitochondrial' DNA found on the '2 hairs' whereas there is international agreement that only the FBI could manage such tests on hairs treated with peroxide, and with potentially poor to unreliable results. There is a lot of other information relevant to the '2 hairs' not able to be encompassed here because of the volume of international peer reviewed science on the subject. The most striking being an admission by the FBI in recent years that something over 93% of their cases which relied upon 'subjective' hair analysis as sole evidence were faulty. That within an organisation that is well funded and the biggest of its type in the world, and which has a standard rule that any use of 'hair peroxide' having been rendered on suspect hairs needed to be notified.  So much for ESR.

Clearly that notification was somehow hidden in plain sight in the file. Furthermore 'our' tester used 'subjective comparison' testing with its 93% failure rate but our 'tester' wasn't an expert and had 'help' from another scientist who just happened to be in the lab that day. This is the brief version of events, but what isn't in anyway brief is that police knew that Olivia had peroxided her hairs, and we know that peroxide hairs were unlikely to give a result in 93% plus cases where examiners knew of the presence of peroxide, or indeed where no peroxide was present but where the ESR type of 'hair comparison' method was used. Strike 2 a process of high un-reliability even when in the hands of accredited experts which ESR did not have. Next we need to connect again to a hallmark of miscarriages of Justice worldwide: 'further searches.'

As set out above the 'suspect hairs' took many searches to find. However, 'sample' hairs (to match the suspect hairs by super dooper scientists whose failure rate was 93%) were taken from the home of Olivia once, then again. Just like the search of the flower bed in the Thomas case and the 3 searches required of Lundy's car to find a bracelet which, when found, was too small to have fitted Christine Lundy, or the 'lens' found in Bain household after hours in a room, already grid searched.

The officer who did the  hair collection broke the accredited standards for uplifting and storing the hair - no doubt because ESR didn't know the correct procedure themselves or didn't bother to tell him. What is certain is that at least 3 others in the Hope household, or who visited the home were more likely than Olivia to have been the hair 'donors' if there was in fact a reliable mitochondrial DNA match (maternal DNA line, not specific to an individual). Strike 3 - multiple sample hair collections and searches, specimens not properly handled, specimens not photographed in situation, specimens not collected, handled and stored according to accredited standards, and highly likely to have been contaminated as a result, no peroxide allegedly found in the hairs, never mentioned in the Court by the scientist but found recorded in the file - an important issue itself, perhaps not understood or more than likely hidden but not 'cleaned up' after properly. Detectives did take a record of the peroxide treatment of Olivia's hair for a reason that is not known, however that record never reached the Court.

3 Strikes for already controversial evidence is broken enough. Certainly not reliable evidence to keep a man in prison for killing a couple no one has ever said he ever met, let alone that they went aboard his boat. The '2 trip' theory has other major problems in itself, not firmly appreciated until this year but now backed by witnesses.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I have spoken briefly with Mr Lundy and outlined the 395 paragraph Court of Appeal decision dismissing his appeal against conviction.  He now has a copy of the decision.

He is, of course, very disappointed at the outcome of the appeal.  Mr Lundy has long argued that for whatever reason his case has become the testing grounds for novel science.  It was the novel use of the IHC that lead to a successful appeal against conviction before the Privy Council back in 2013 and it was novel use of the mRNA evidence that was the primary focus of the 2017 appeal. The Court of Appeal has found that the mRNA evidence was wrongly admitted at his 2016 retrial.

The Court of Appeal have applied the proviso.  It was only after the appeal was heard that the Crown confirmed that it would seek to rely on the proviso if its primary argument as to admissibility of the mRNA evidence was rejected.    In a lengthy decision the Court of Appeal have concluded that notwithstanding the wrongful admission of evidence that was so strenuously contested both before trial and at trial, that allowing that evidence to be considered and accepted by the jury, has not given rise to a substantial miscarriage of justice and did not make the trial unfair. 

That decision raises important issues and is inevitably one that Mr Lundy will ask the Supreme Court to review. 

In those circumstances any further comment on behalf of Mr Lundy is not appropriate.

JHM Eaton QC
Counsel for Mr Lundy
9 October 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Propensity evidence in the Watson case is bull dust.

Dead case walking:

Propensity evidence is an argument as to something a person is likely to do, mainly because he or she are said to have done so before, spoken about, or displayed the character to do so. When a case has no evidence, the Crown, if pig-headed and intent of prosecuting, might embark on seeking from the Court to admit propensity evidence. That's what happened in Scott Watson's case. There were no violence convictions of prior offending for police use. So they invented some. They did that in various ways but all to the same point - that the jury, if they had any doubts about Watson's guilt, could reflect on things he allegedly did or said to a number of people - who it is now clear could be leaned on, or given 'favours,' or because overall Scott was a bastard wanted for an unsolved alleged murder on Great Barrier Island, who had to be stopped.

Somehow the Judge allowed that evidence, after first ruling it as too dangerous to be admissible. Evidence, which when the Judge 'changed his mind' could have made the Jury feel that Scott was the likely killer because of that material which in totality was not actual evidence but rather allegations that were never proven, 'statements' for which there is no material proof had ever been said and which were not revealed by witnesses at first call. The totality of such, never proven as true or beyond reasonable doubt testimony, would have been unsettling to the juror's minds particularly for those with a belief that police are always right. Scott Watson was being 'tried' for things that could not be proven true but which the Crown was allowed to use to prove a case for which they had minimal, really no evidence. It's a lot to think about in a tight situation, taking objective focus away from the reality that there was no proof of Ben and Olivia ever going aboard the Watson boat or even being in his company. There's remains a strong (and hidden until now) argument about which boat the couple boarded despite a parcel of strong evidence put together over 2 decades - in reality the 'propensity evidence' is a fragile connection between alleged random events linked by alleged talk regarding alleged evidence for which there is no confirmation.

The Crown didn't have proof of death, the Crown didn't have Watson and the couple at any point together, also the further weakness of his being dropped off to his boat alone at the end of a long night with sunrise less than hours away. Nothing found on Watson's boat provided any proof of the couple being there other than speculation. So the argument for propensity evidence also relied on a lack of physical evidence critical to its integrity. That is the pattern of the evidence in this case - a lack of evidence and unsubstantiated talk to fill gaps. Boats shrunk and grew in size, changed colour and number of masts. Sequences of events alleged by the Crown were not linked together, the investigation was not thorough because a target had already been identified from which point all other leads were ignored. Not one question raised from either the Tam team, Police Headquarters or indeed the Crown - no one willing to 'say we never properly investigated this case - we fixed on one potential suspect and completely ignored the rest.' That investigative conduct was somehow permissible, as it is now. That will change in whatever way Scott's current Royal Prerogative of Mercy appeal is settled because a question for the reviewer, and this Government, is whether lack of evidence in continuity is actually evidence at all. Time is going to show that it is not, and this case against Scott Watson will fall in the disgusting heap it has always been.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Watson convictions failed.

I have good reason to believe the Watson convictions are dead in the water. To some extent I can offer an insiders point of view as to why the convictions are unlikely to be able to be sustained. A year ago the foremost reason would have been the failure of the forensic procedures used to 'recover' the 2 hairs, and later to distinguish whether, as offered by the Crown, they even belong to the missing teenager Olivia Hope. The doubts are beyond reasonable that first of all the 2 hairs came off Watson's boat (they were never seen or photographed their in a thorough forensic examination by scientists), then secondly and more importantly, that they were even Olivia's hair. There were approved standards for the recovery and examination of questioned hair from crime scenes, and sample hairs from other sources - everyone was broken in this case and what followed was a now discredit hair analysis 'system' whereby a 'trained' scientist uses extraordinary (and hoax) comparisons of the questioned hair and sample hairs. Such methods resulted in a 98% failure rate of convictions in the USA which used similar systems. In short no one has that infallible ability to compare hair so finely that can be relied upon as evidence - it is subjective trickery, a tool of the devil.

There are other devils in this case a few of which are discussed here.

Propensity evidence: Loosely described as a defendant who has an alleged propensity to commit a certain type of crime. In Watson we had a number of people who claimed that Scott had spoken about killing women or indeed confessed to doing so. The problem with that evidence is that the witnesses didn't say such things at the outset but developed their opinions over a number of police interviews as other hard evidence couldn't be found. Scott now has one man who was offered his freedom if he would agree that he was a drinking buddy of Scott's and who heard Scott make such claims. We'll call this guy Rambo. Rambo was made angry by the suggestion and told the police officer what he thought of him, which wasn't much. Rambo kept notes of the conversation and we now know the reason why the statement written out for Rambo wasn't signed. So not a single witness who wasn't bribed, bullied or cajoled to tell lies about SW's so called hidden violent tendencies.

The 2-trip theory: The secret trip Scott is alleged to have taken back to shore after being delivered to his own boat alone.  This evidence was dropped on the Jury after the close of evidence by now High Court Judge Paul Davison, the same man who prosecuted the innocent Teina Pora. A man who told the Jury that a positive sighting of a ketch by an excellent witness O Malley, a helicopter pilot, was not backed up by anyone else on the boat - when indeed the skipper of the boat had confirmed the sighting but was never called to give evidence. So that unconfirmed 2nd trip has been a topic of conversation for 2 decades. Now however, Scott has proof that police looked for evidence of the 2nd trip as early as January 98 and for the next 18 months to trial found none, in fact still have none now - the very reason Davison could call evidence to back up his claim.

Possibly the 3rd heading for now could be ketch sightings and the mystery man. Both of which police said never existed - everyone dreamed it up or were mistaken. This allowed the police to move from a two masted sailing ketch to a Watson's small sloop and indeed to a man who was on his boat alone and vulnerable to allegations by paid witnesses and those with torches held to their feet. The police aided this enterprise by deleting evidence, 100s of time. This is not conjecture but something that has been proved. Overall however, do not forget if there was no mystery ketch or no mystery man, the ketch and the man that scores of people saw should have been discounted from this inquiry 20 years ago. Remember that there is a list of over 60 people who more than likely saw the ketch, some even touched it, or rowed around it in appreciation of it's fine style.

As for those deletions it is now proven that they didn't only happen with statements and reports but also with the Photo File. Photos of the ketch are missing. The forensic file was tampered with, witness statements were tampered with and so was the Photo file. The proof is at hand, I and others have seen it - the majority of it is with this Government with more to come.

Corrupted file, corrupted witness statements and evidence, tampered with forensic evidence, photographic and video evidence negates the Watson convictions as does the fact that there is absolutely no proof, and never will be, that Scott did not go back to his boat alone, and the same absolute proof that the missing couple Ben and Olivia were never on the Blade, let alone aboard it in a raft up off three boats with nearly a dozen people aboard. That's the facts, or just a few them from a vast file defending Scott Watson. Watch this space.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Teina Pora: what the authorities ignore.

My opinion is that the police who interviewed Teina Pora have been cut too much slack. I recall reading in the recent book on the Pora case Tim McKinnel commenting how the video tapes of the police interviews of Pora lack continuity. In other words, when the tapes stopped they resumed at a different point. From last nights movie on TV1 we also learnt that in the Pora case there were 100s of deletions from the file. That file was 'groomed' by police perhaps at the behest of the prosecutor - now High Court Judge Paul Davison. Why would I say that, because I know from personal experience the same thing happened in the Watson case. The assistant prosecutor Crutchley asked for a report just before the trial, the report was deleted but plenty material remains to show what material was deleted, evidence helpful to Scott Watson. And yes Judge Paul Davison was lead prosecution in the Watson case as well.

I've read reports in recent years where evidence held on file and fought not to be released in civil cases has been reviewed by the Judge as to its relevance. But our criminal courts have no objections to deletions, bringing no reason why ex prosecutors like Davison and Crutchley should ever have been concerned about culpability for hiding evidence - as we know happened in the Bain and Pora cases, and which I now know happened in Watson. The Courts don't care, the legislators don't care and meanwhile New Zealand 'punches above its weight' in miscarriages of Justice.

We are in the electronic age. Each inquiry already gets a number - that number can become the electronic file which can be protected from being meddled with or deleted by having everything backed up automatically in a master system. That way Dr Teoh's comments as to the matter found on Lundy's shirt as being poorly preserved and something which no man should be convicted upon would have been known to the Lundy defence at the outset and not a decade later. That may have also deterred those that took advantage of it being hidden to offer false testimony at the Lundy trial. Similarly Milton Weir would not have sat listening to evidence in the Bain trial of the glasses, central to that case, belonging to David when in fact they were his mothers - as he truthfully told police. There are many more critical examples in the Watson file now before the Government including one report totally gone that would never have been hidden or deleted because counsel for the defence would have had them on hand even before the committal to trial hearings if the file was treated, as it should be, as sacrosanct.

What we have heard about in Pora was not unique to that case alone, but arguably every miscarriage of Justice in New Zealand, including Watson, Lundy and Tamihere which are yet to be resolved. Tamihere is an interesting example - we have a primary Crown witness convicted of perjury and a second being searched for by ......wait for this, not police but a prison inmate, Arthur Taylor to bring that secret witness to Justice. If that isn't odd enough then consider once a trial is wrecked by perjury (the adage that perjury strikes fatally had the heart of Justice applies here) why does David Tamihere need to push the cart to be exonerated. It was the Crown's blinking witness yet they sit on their hands, there is nothing stopping the Crown stepping in and finding the secret witness from that case who has fled, or applying for the Tamihere convictions to be set aside. In a democracy  the onus is on the Crown and police where they have willingly taken part in a miscarriage of Justice to put it right - not falling on a 60 something year old pensioner who was only released from life imprisonment because of poor health.

I was a little disappointed by the Pora movie, it was a dark movie and many will say that so it should have been. However, what about the celebration of the efforts of McKinnel, Jonathan Krebs and the redoubtable Ingrid Squire - as in the past we have seen Joe Karam and back in the 70s Pat Booth, Peter Williams along with many others. Indeed Pora himself who stepped out of prison and forgave those that had falsely imprisoned him. Instead we saw a sulking portrayal of Malcolm Rewa who many know was protected by some police allowing him to continue his attacks on women. The story isn't about Rewa it's about his enablers the police, and the enablers that allowed the evidence of a doctored video to be entered as evidence.

A big plus for me was learning something about Teina's parole which I didn't know about before. Assuming that it was accurate who could help be uplifted by the speech of Ingrid Squire to the parole board that relented and let Teina go before he would eventually be exonerated. I knew little about Ingrid Squire until last night but she is one powerful person, telling the parole board that the Pora convictions were the worst case of a miscarriage of Justice in the history of this country - what a shout out to 3 tired old folk sitting on their haunches with a claim that their's was not to judge the safety of a conviction. I ask now, why not - we've had enough false convictions for the board not to bury their heads in the sand as they did with Scott Watson nearly 2 years ago sending him away for 4 years after a retrospective change of the Law extending up to 5 years as the limit between parole board appearances - and why did that happen to Scott, for the same reason Ingrid Squire's argued against - that innocent men or women should not be forced to admit guilt in order to be released from prison.

We've got a lot wrong and some of the things are so easy to fix, yet we have men and women  falsely imprisoned for decades with only themselves fighting against the state for their freedom. The state is not meant to be the enemy of the people but rather the protector of the truth. There is no excuse for believing mutterings from a new police commissioner talking about what police have learnt since the last news break on a major miscarriage of Justice. When the Pora or Lundy cases happen, indeed that or Tamihere as well, where malfeasance is exposed - heads must roll and the wrongfully convicted assisted by the powers that falsely imprisoned them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lundy case still plagued by hoax science.

The article above highlights the procedures relied upon to gain the Lundy convictions. 'Bucket brain' sounds bad enough, but the other issue is lack of paperwork and raises the question as to why this was not considered at the retrial. Dr Miller is by the way not a forensic scientist but rather a IHC practitioner who test known tissue for disease. IHC has never been used as a forensic scientist before or since the Lundy trial although it was touted as something that would be developed into a forensic science to no avail.

When using novel science the least that should be expected is fully recorded documentation not body parts passed on in buckets without detail. A key issue with the alleged brain matter on Lundy's shirt was it's preservation. Brain degrades quickly outside the body, in fact brain used for research is generally 'fixed' by pumping formaldehyde through the brain before removal. All the specialists noting the Lundy shirt at the beginning of the case agreed the matter on the shirt, whatever it was, was degraded. In fact NZ specialists refused to test it such was it's condition. Now even the American specialist Rodney Miller is not taking calls on the subject. Thus leaving the most objective comments to come from Miller's homeland from Dr Bennett Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who firstly says 'the case is a travesty of justice' and later 'IT IS BULLSHIT.'

I agree for a whole lot of reasons not mentioned in the article, not excluding the use of stolen body parts - converted for a use for which there was no consent or forensic safety chain, just as there had been no forensic safety chain for the safe custody of the shirt, no proper storage and no attention to the obvious degradation of the material - which some experts described as gunk and in which (by the Crown's own goal) it was determined there was animal DNA found - indicating the spots may have been spilt food. Dr Omalu points out the lack of other evidence incriminating Mark. We can go a bit further because there was evidence of strangers being in the house and DNA found under the fingernails of Christine and her daughter identified as coming from 2 unidentified males. There were also numerous fibres and hairs found on Christine's hands none of which matched any clothing of Marks.

I wrote a couple of years ago that it was time to let Mark Lundy go, the bucket in the brain and the 'BULLSHIT' science as quoted by Dr Omalu underlines that point, as does Dr Miller's sudden silence.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Roberto Conchie Harris - tells us what many didn't know.

There has been some outrage at the naming on the infamous witness C today as Roberto Conchie Harris, double murderer and long term prison inmate. For some it will seem like the 'scales' have fallen from their eyes, that they suddenly understand about secret prison witnesses or snitches as another name for informers becomes more fashionable.

But it is not only against Harris that outrage should be placed, he merely climbed aboard the train that came calling for him. A train driven by police sent to collect the witness who would resolved a high profile double murder case. In fact they didn't move Harris but rather his later victim David Tamihere from one prisoner to another to be near Bob and be gifted 20 years in prison for crimes that it increasingly appears he did not commit. Bob Harris, 1 of 3 secret witnesses, in the Tamihere case ultimately gained early parole. I am unsure about the gains the other 2 witnesses 1 of whom is dead made from false testimony against Tamihere, but it can be taken from their names being suppressed, and the fact all 3 secret witnesses told conflicting details that the police didn't want the public or Jury to know who was aboard their train.

Today the public were told that Tamihere's case was not the only one inflicted by secret witnesses, also the controversial Mark Lundy case (which awaits a Court of Appeal decision), and that of Scott Watson who currently appeals his convictions under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. 3 controversial cases all with secret witness involved, 2 with absolutely dodgy forensic science with the third having no reliable forensic science at all. Every criminal case requires a solid spike in the ground but these 3 cases have none. Once there was said to be evidence of brain material on Lundy's shirt, now there is none, Watson, now a 20 year old case - had 2-hairs as the forensic proof that with just $15,000 spent on a forensic update indicates that the 2-hairs have no probative value, who the hairs belonged to and where they came from is suddenly unknown, in Tamihere a key witness is now convicted of perjury for lying in the Tamihere trial.

None of these are stakes in the ground, they are the house on the shore built upon sand, held together by secret people guilty of horrific crimes as bad or worse than that of which they accuse Tamihere, Watson, or Lundy. Justice has been sold out and replaced with a lottery, crooks selling a story to convict another person in order to gain their freedom early, money, advantages. How can they possibly be trusted and why are their good names hidden, only to allow them to continue on in their employment of committing crime and getting concessions from the Crown to help convict the innocent.

Bob Harris is a person whose identity was hidden for 30 years, the arguments for his name to be suppressed centred around the alleged need to protect such people in order that others like them may come forward. That argument is entirely suspect because it appears the only thing that was protected was the police's ability to convict the innocent. Bob Harris's name being kept secret meant the Jury or the public didn't know who the person telling lies against David Tamihere really was. We know now it was somebody not sickened by the alleged Tamihere confession, but someone looking to gain something using lies and deceit, and whose own crimes were at least as bad or worse than that which he  falsely accused Tamihere - we also now know he was lying.

There was absolutely nothing gained by the protection and rewards given to Bob Harris, no public good came from it only a lot of public harm - now revealed in its true horror. Not 1 witness lied against David Tamihere but 3, one can almost imagine the late detective John Hughes snickering about the coup he pulled off in sending the innocent Tamihere to prison, as he had earlier assisted with Arthur Thomas and other innocent men losing years of their lives.

David's son was only a child when the watch allegedly belonging to one of the missing tourists was found in his room, and when the whole country would pause in horror at the prospect of a father gifting his son the watch of a dead man he killed. A watch without even a hint of forensic proof was planted, indeed when Urban Hoglin's body was found buried on land, (not dumped at sea at Harris claimed), his watch was intact upon his risk. Hoglin had not been killed and been robbed as the finding of the watch revealed. Even then our Court of Appeal fiddled with the appeal and dismissed arguments that the finding of the body showed that Harris had lied, the Court preferred the proposition that it was Tamihere that lied to Harris - a distortion of the truth that will always blackened the Court of Appeal of that era. The Court did not have the courage to demonstrate outrage against a case that had clearly been orchestrated by police dealing using informers and planting evidence, they took the line that it was a necessary part of the legal process. History has shown the exact despicable process that allows the use of such witnesses and their protection, they are rewarded  by both police and the Justice system - they are even released from prison early as if they have done a civic service.

Years earlier 2 other young boys were be impacted by the Tamihere case, having returned home from school to find their mother and her partner dead they would be unaware that they too had stepped into a police trap - because Harris the killer of their mother would be out of prison in less than a decade for assisting in the Tamihere convictions. Released only to reoffend. Consider Watson and Lundy both arguably falsely convicted on double murder - one having been in prison for 20 years and the other only a couple of years less during which time Harris had managed to get himself released twice for double murders which he does not deny. How are these cases all connected? Police targeting the innocent and when finding no evidence paying prisoners to fabricate stories. This didn't happen with Mark Lundy at the outset, only after the forensic science fell apart before his retrial - but with Watson from the outset when no evidence could be found of Scott Watson ever having even met the missing couple. Justice NZ style. All the while our Courts kept their heads in the sand paying homage to a 'civic service' that has corrupted the NZ Judicial process into a distortion of the truth.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

My Friend Daniel

                                                            My Friend Daniel

My friend Daniel’s face is black. If you ever meet Daniel you might not know that his heart was operated on before he was eight. It was sliced and chopped, turned inside out so he could see himself strangled and stripped. No warmth came with the sun on any day for Daniel. He had no corner or place of his own away from unwanted hands. No one respected or cared for Daniel when he was a child. He tried to hide his young body from the rough hands of his stepfather and the others   , tried until there was no trying left and he ran away. He ran and ran before he realised he had nowhere to go.
He ran past people in the street carrying the fear in his head until he reached the train station. where the trains went either north or south.
            At the station he expected to be caught any minute. He thought his foster father or step brothers would arrive, even the police to take him home – a runaway boy with dirty knees and a runny nose. The first train to stop was heading south. He was caught before he realised. The conductor put him off two stations further south. They kept him in the ticket office until the police came but Daniel wouldn’t say his name, or where he came from. He couldn’t tell them any kind of truth because he was ashamed. He didn’t even know the words, the proper way to say it.
            They didn’t talk to the police in his adopted home. He was living by their rules, the stealing and pinching and never saying anything. After another 3 days in a boy’s home they dropped him back at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Henri was drinking in the garage.
            “You back boy,” he said.
            The mother bashed his head against the door frame; she got angry with him for bleeding. That’s a life, getting strangled and stripped, having your head sticking to the mattress with blood. Daniel had heavy hands. He could knock a boy down 1 or 2 years older but he couldn’t fight a man. Daniel has tattoos; one a poorly shaped heart. When I met Daniel his feet easily walked where there was danger. We were in prison.
            He was a tattooist. He had a machine made from an electric razor; you could get a tattoo done for chocolates, tobacco or drugs. Somewhere along the way he learnt to play guitar, drums – he learnt music by ear. I guess when I think back Daniel could hear music when others couldn’t. By then he was a fighter with a hard punch in his left hand.
            Around the prison Daniel traded for yeast, potatoes or sugar to make a brew. He was a good brewer even though he was the youngest prisoner in maximum security. He’d grown sleek like a panther. I don’t know why Daniel sought me out as a friend. Just sometimes when he was relaxed he had a smile that seemed to recapture the lost years, like he had a way of going back and watching out for another kind of life. He had different smile when he was angry. No one really trusts one another in maximum security but Daniel seemed to trust me.
            If you ever talk to Daniel he might tell you that I taught him to read and write. I’m not sure if I would have had the patience to teach someone but I don’t correct him. After a long time in maximum security Daniel was released. He got married. In the way these things work he ended up living next door to my grandmother. She would call Daniel and his wife over to chase strangers out of her house or to look for keys or money she’d lost.
            Something went wrong with a woman at a bus stop and Daniel got sent back. They say that everyone comes back. Daniel didn’t have much of a chance. He’d never worked except in the prison where he cooked or cut other prisoner’s hair. I met his wife in the visiting room, she was a publican. We talked about where she lived and this old lady that lived next door who turned out to be my grandmother who was 99. The old lady was visited by those she known throughout her 100 years, they hid in cupboards or whispered from behind curtains in the crisis of her old age.
            One day Daniel spoke from between the bars that separated our cell blocks. He was due for parole and wanted help with his letter. It was one of those languid days, when people are shooting the breeze and even in prison tensions might be down. “I can help you write it but there’s not much point unless it’s truthful. There’s something inside you Daniel that isn’t right, like a fire and you got to put it out,” I said.
            Daniel was smiling. Daniel by instinct wanted to smile. That was the first time he spoke to me about the agony of his childhood. I had to look him in the eyes even when I felt the need to look away. He was making his way out of prison he’d built around himself when he was just a boy. We wrote the letter on prison issue paper with uneven lines and used a dictionary for the words we didn’t know.
            Daniel got parole. Soon he had children of his own. He gave up making brews or drinking beer. He still lifted weights as though physicality is the last thing a fighter surrenders. He had trouble finding work because he didn’t like being told what to do by people he couldn’t respect. He had this idea that he needed to help others get out of the rut he had been in himself. Even before he left prison I told him not to worry about helping others.
            But Daniel is his own man. He put his splintered family connections together. Found his birth father and mother, brothers and sisters he didn’t know, found that he had Polynesian blood. If you saw Daniel with his own children you’d see how far he’d come from never having a childhood of his own. He loves them with a passion.
            I still see Daniel now and then. His children are almost grown. He’s taken an interest in the younger ones in his wider family. I can tell they admire Daniel because he looks them straight in the eye when he talks to them, jams with them on the guitar or drums. He talks straight and they like that. I suppose they can see that you don’t have to drink to be cool, that a swagger doesn’t make you strong. They could even see that strength is doing the right thing by others, an old lady living alone with taunting ghosts or a child with terror in its eyes.
            He still worries that he isn’t doing enough, worries about the children that need help, those fleeing by train or just running without knowing where they are going. He wants to write a book, or maybe be interviewed on TV so that he can give his message of hope. I tell him he doesn’t need that. It’s too much. Daniel just smiles. Daniel has his own mind.
            One time when I saw him he told me about taking the car keys off his youngest sister when she was out of it and going to drive with her baby in the car. She abused him; others in the family were upset with his interfering. He just laughed holding the keys and they didn’t seem to know what to do after that. He told me that the next time he saw his sister she had changed, as though she had worked out that he was only helping her and the baby. She’d realised that her brother loved her where once love had been bare on the ground.
            But that didn’t stop Daniel from telling her that he was making a stand. He said he would ring the authorities if anyone hurt any of the children or put them at risk. I imagined the flash of determination in his eyes and that smile that could be unnerving in its meaning. Prisoners are the last ones to ring the authorities, it’s frowned upon. We shot the breeze. The mood was languid just like that day we spoke through the bars. My friend Daniel’s face is black. When he smiles it sets me free.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

All the best to Joseph Parker.

Just over 12 hours to fight time and Joseph's mind is right where it should be, totally ready.

Edited 2/4/18

Less than 24 hours from fight time and a chance to distill an overview of the fight. Joshua boxed to win off his jab. He in fact didn't want Joe in close, an apparent acknowledgement to Joe's punching power. Joe looked best when going forward and rounds 5 and 6 looked like they would be a turning point as Joe put pressure on only for Anthony to maintain his reliance on the jab. Afterwards Joe said that he regretted not having pushed on more, a situation where he looked as though he could find dominance. Good effort by Joe, he came away with his credibility intact and fair to say his reputation enhanced. Look forward to his continued progress.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Why the Watson convictions must fail.

Scott Watson (SW) currently appeals his 2 murder convictions by way of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPOM.) This is 2nd attempt, having failed at the Court of Appeal (COA) and Privy Council (PC). The main reason he must prevail is because of a single word - process.

The Watson case had never followed process. SW was tried by media, this was acknowledged by the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA) who are statutorily restrained from having any real power. It can make recommendations and publish findings but mostly appear fairly 'toothless' but in the Watson case the IPCA acknowledge the not inconsiderable influence of the media in painting an unflattering picture of SW before his trial, even before his arrest - hence the reason many consider SW's trial was a 'trial by media.' The IPCA also upheld complaints about witness identifications and criticised police handling of witnesses which may have led to witnesses giving false evidence - about the strongest criticism the IPCA can make. So that was an abuse of process.

At the same time another abuse of process was going on, 'tunnel vision.' SW was the only suspect on the landscape and whilst police had evidence that the couple had boarded a ketch they soon stopped looking for a ketch despite getting 100s of reports of sightings and instead concentrated on SW single masted sloop. During the early stages of the inquiry there were reports of the missing couple Ben Smart and Olivia Hope being seen alive on a ketch a few 2 days after their appearance. Police maintained that the witnesses were mistaken, but despite one of the biggest manhunt's in NZ history, and to this day, the woman witnesses were said to be mistaken about has never been found and never come forward. Nor has the ketch she was seen upon ever found. So the police find no ketch even though witnesses see it, and never find the couple on board. We are asked to put that from our minds and to consider by implication that a ketch, its crew, and passengers never come forward to confirm that they were actually the people seen on the 2nd of January 1998 by 20 people. Again that is a disruption of process. Police were required to find that ketch and that couple, not just say 20 people were mistaken - innocent people going about innocent past times don't hide from police, they actually come forward.

Meanwhile investigation police in Endeavour Inlet are busy telling people they didn't see a 2 masted ketch, the actually saw a single masted sloop around half the ketch's size. If some witnesses are not convinced police tell them that SW is a dangerous psychopath and they need the witnesses help to get SW convicted. Failing that, and if the witnesses might have been smoking dope or breaking the law in some way they might be convinced that it is better to co-operate with police than face charges. If the witnesses still don't budge or submerged some of their evidence into silence they are told they are confused and mistaken - if as confused and mistaken witnesses they are still used at trial the Crown tell the Jury that the witnesses were confused or mistaken because they in fact saw a 2 masted scow, with not sails or ropework, no bright brass portholes and not looking anything like an ocean going ketch of similar colour but not size above the water line. An abuse of process highlighted by the header picture here:

I've written previously about the abuse of process that was the forensic evidence in this case concerning 2-hairs said to come from Olivia Hope. How they were not found on any searches of SW's sloop the Blade, not found in several searches inside the ESR laboratory but eventually found on a subsequent search 3 months after they were first looked for among 100s of smaller in length brown hairs on a day when sample hairs form Olivia's home were in the lab despite rules that sample and questioned hairs should never been in the same lab and the same time.

Move forward 15 years to when Scott's first RPOM is thrown out. On that occasion there is new evidence from 2 primary witnesses that they were mistaken in identifying SW as a mystery stranger (remember here the Watson inquiry had been damned for its identification procedures.) That new evidence was actually evidence for a new Jury to decide as 'fact finders.' The Courts had learnt from the Bain Privy Council decision in 2007 that new evidence was for a Jury to decide its merits, but neither the Ministry of Justice or the RPOM reviewer Kristy McDonald used that the PC precedent instead they went back to Bain 2002 and 2004 decisions both of which had been overturned - again no process was in place. Correct process was to send the case back to the COA, not for McDonald to assume the role of a Jury patronise the witnesses good intentions but nevertheless say it didn't matter.

On what grounds then were the convictions upheld by McDonald? The 2-hairs, mysteriously found after months of searching. Because the 2-hairs were so controversial, and appreciating that forensic science in particular can move rapidly did Ms McDonald seek an update on developments in that area? No, an abuse of process once again. What would she have found if she had researched developments, here are a few;

a/That the subjective comparison methods of comparing DNA were no longer used.

b/The number of loci examined would no longer be 12 but rather 15+. In other words a broader and therefore safter sample.

c/ That the American FBI found 95% of convictions, using 'hair comparison' methods (as used by ESR in 1998) were overturned.

d/ She may also have found, by due diligence, that the reports by on British scientist in this case giving the odds of nuclear DNA (nDNA) was incorrectly used with Mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) giving the mDNA is this case an overrated and incorrect emphasis.

e/ She may have also found that the ESR hair specialist was not a specialist at all compared to overseas specialists, did not have the same training, did not have updated training introductions to new systems or be assessed. In other words not a specialist and someone who had mishandled evidence and against accreditation rules 'tested' sample and questioned (evidentiary) hairs at the same time.

I think just the FBI fail rate of convictions would have been enough for a reasonable and cautious reviewer intent on proper process.

But these are not the only reasons why the Watson convictions must fail, there is the totality of evidence published in several books, magazines, papers, documentaries and a movie. All of this held up by 2-hairs? Leap forwards in science, and legal precedence as to what new evidence, and how evidence may not necessarily need to be new to warrant acceptance - makes no difference? Public disquiet makes no difference, the public interest not served?

There are actually 100s of reasons why the Watson convictions must fail, some of those promote a single reason why, others bind together in continuity to reveal a wider picture of innocence - the exact thing Kristy McDonald never did.

There has never been more known about this case, what was hidden, where the Crown cheated, and how evidence can be looked at afresh - it's about to burst open.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Watson, Tamihere and Lundy this year.

Not many posts for me recently because of things unfolding in the Lundy and Watson cases, the Tamihere case also being turned inside out. The further one goes inside these cases the uglier look of these Miscarriages of Justice becomes and is deeply troubling, so is the absolute police and Crown Law resistance of acknowledging fault or dealing with their own lawbreakers.

In one respect 2017 was a good year for confidence in New Zealand's ability to deal with Miscarriages of Justice, the door was further opened on them and closer scrutiny applied.

The Lundy appeal was dynamite in my opinion. Jonathan Eaton QC not avoiding the term 'miscarriage of justice', where he addressed the Court of Appeal about  a very ugly example of scientific misadventure going wrong aided by junk science. Eventually, and I hope it is this year, the case of Marl Lundy will be finally understood that he is innocent, convicted on science that has only been used once, is not forensic in any context and was administered by quak who has fled the scene long before Mark's appeal. I look forward to an instructive and thoughtful Court of Appeal Judgement in the next few weeks and Mark's release. Failing that, the well oiled defence stepping forward to the Supreme Court and beyond if necessary.

What can anyone say about the Tamihere case, the guts ripped out of it with 8 convictions of perjury brought by a Maximum security prisoner Arthur Taylor who has never met David Tamihere. I hope the response by David himself is constructive, and rapid this year, because no Justice System can have credibility when a principle witness has been shown to have lied even once, let along 8 times. Sadly the Tamihere case shows that police officers corrupted on one case forever damn those they work with for years to come. Readers will know that the 'leader' of the Tamihere inquiry, the late John Hughes, cut his teeth in the Thomas case were evidence was also planted. Police stood by him and he continued on with his methods throughout his police career ,extending a blight that could have stopped if the 'leaders' of the Thomas inquiry had been charged for planting evidence. Arthur Taylor has chipped away at that block and I believe soon we will see private prosecutions against senior police who direct staff to do illegal acts when framing a person police leaders 'know, or believe' are guilty. I hope that will happen sooner rather than later, and that prosecutors who go along with corrupted inquirers are also be made to pay.

The Watson case is highly topical, the one that won't die. At the moment the Government are considering in which way Scott's latest RPOM will be considered. The Minister and the Ministry for Justice are said to be reflecting on the first Watson RPOM outcome, and the significance of 2 reports by the reviewer Kristy McDonald QC tendered with the recommendation to uphold the convictions based on the 'science' yes, that word 'science' again, of the '2-hair' evidence which time has shown is trash. There is nothing which indicates that McDonald QC updated herself on the science that she replied upon to keep Scott in prison. I could say that it is like a person who retains a black and white television when for 20 years people around her have colour TV, and when asked, the owner of the black and white set claims not to have known about the technology. Bad, bad bad. Meanwhile I have heard that there is paperwork abroad that a former Minister of Police and Justice obtained which indicated that Watson may have been framed, but that ex Minister did not act upon it any way. Often people make claims about the 'people at the top' being corrupt in some way out of pure, and mostly unfair speculation, at the moment I can say that does not appear to either unfair or speculation but documented material.

Cheers to the few members and the watchers here. Sorry about the long gaps between posts and all the best for the New Year.