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.
Friday, April 27, 2018
Sunday, April 8, 2018
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 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.