STORY: "System let down an innocent man," by Keith Hunter, published by the New Zealand Herald on April 15, 2015." (A new book calls for Arthur Allan Thomas to be cleared, once and for all, of the Crewe murders. In this edited extract, author Keith Hunter explains how the wrongful conviction of an innocent man undermined confidence in police); Extracted from The Case of the Missing Bloodstain by Keith Hunter (Hunter Productions, RRP $37.99); (Thanks to the Wrongful Convictions Blog for drawing this story to our attention. HL);
GIST: "The royal commission finding that our police force framed Arthur Allan Thomas for murder marked a coming of age for New Zealand. It introduced a deep disillusionment, a cynicism that infects us today. It colours our view of justice in New Zealand and our trust in those who deliver it. Before the scandal of the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe, New Zealanders took great pride in their honest and ever-vigilant system of justice and order. Unlike most others', our police force and our justice system were uncorrupted and incorruptible. They never falsified. They always acted properly and in the true pursuit of justice. In our minds they were clothed in a white robe of honour and truth. We trusted them as a child trusts a parent. The Crewes murder case destroyed this. Nowadays a lawyer can suggest to a jury that the policeman they've just heard was a perjurer who had planted evidence against his client. Before R v Thomas no lawyer would ever do this, or perhaps had ever done it, although many would make this talk over a beer after losing in court. But in the Crewes case, the police were caught out. A Royal Commission of Inquiry found they had planted evidence against an innocent man. The nation changed. Nowadays we suspect the judicial system in the Peter Ellis case, the Scott Watson case, the Mark Lundy case, the John Barlow case, the Rex Haig case, the David Wayne Tamihere case and so on. It has become endemic as a legacy of the Crewe case and will likely stay that way until the nation has a justice system that puts justice above its collegial pride and self-esteem and finds a way to recognise that it makes mistakes. The book on the Crewe case will not be closed until the system acts on it again. No further attempt been made to identify the real killer. The intended by-product is that Thomas is not exonerated. He is not proclaimed innocent of the two murders.........The report of the Royal Commission painted an indelible stain on the country's justice system, but that outcome is vastly overshadowed by the system's response. There lies the greater scandal. I cannot imagine another country outside the banana republics and the now disintegrating Middle Eastern dictatorships that would not act on considerations of a properly constituted "Royal" Commission of Inquiry as serious as those reported by Justice Taylor and his colleagues after eight months of intensive examination. New Zealand, presently the "least corrupt country" on the planet, chose otherwise. Why on Earth a New Zealand statute allows for the institution of Royal Commissions of Inquiry is beyond my understanding when their findings can be overruled by those whose status is threatened by them and who can determine and discard them as no more than valueless opinions. It seems to me we should either have commissions of inquiry that are real inquiries with real outcomes or concede they are just expensive charades and dispense with them altogether. The underlying truth is about territory and about shame. The Royal Commission was only a Royal Commission, not a court of law. Over the past 30 years the same response has been conspicuous in a multitude of high-profile miscarriages of justice in New Zealand. It is self-defeating. Rather than confirm the system's competence and integrity, it feeds the doubts of a once-trusting public. It ensures that books like this one will continue to be written here, sustained by a justice system capable of keeping the wrongly convicted wrongly imprisoned."
The entire story can be found at:
See Wikipedia account: "Campaign to overturn the convictions: There were numerous inconsistencies in the evidence – which led to an outcry among elements in the farming community and among relatives of Thomas and his wife Vivien Thomas. This led to the formation of the Arthur Thomas Retrial Committee. The report by a retired judge Sir George MacGregor that rejected the appeal for a retrial was also riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies. But a report on this by journalist Terry Bell, then deputy editor of the Auckland Star Saturday edition, was rejected for publication on the grounds that "it is not the role of the newspapers to attempt to try the courts". Bell then resigned and produced the booklet Bitter Hill (which is the English meaning of Pukekawa), outlining the evidence, the inconsistencies and the theory about the killings advanced by the retrial committee. It provided the impetus for a national campaign that eventually led to a controversial retrial where the jury was housed, incommunicado, with police in a local hotel. Thomas was again convicted. Pat Booth, assistant editor of the Auckland Star, attended the retrial and became concerned. Together with forensic scientist Jim Sprott, he uncovered the evidence about the cartridge case that finally led to the pardon for Thomas. As part of the campaign for a pardon, Booth wrote a book, Trial by Ambush. This was followed by another campaigning tome, Beyond Reasonable Doubt by British investigative author David Yallop, that was subsequently made into a film of the same name. Royal Commission of inquiry: A Royal Commission of Inquiry was established, headed by retired New South Wales Justice Robert Taylor. This declared Thomas to have been wrongfully charged and convicted, and found that among other improprieties, police had planted a .22 rifle cartridge case in the garden of the house where the murders were committed. The case was found four months and ten days after the area had already been subjected to one of the most intensive police searches ever undertaken. The cartridge case was said to have come from a rifle belonging to Thomas. However, the police tested only 64 rifles in an area where this weapon was common and found that two – including the one belonging to Thomas – could have fired the cartridge case found in the garden. This was the link to the deaths of the Crewes although it was later admitted that the case was "clean" and uncorroded when found. As such, the condition of the case was inconsistent with having lain in the garden, exposed to weather and dirt for more than four months. No action against police officers" The commission report said: "Mr Hutton and Mr [Len] Johnston planted the shell case ... and they did so to manufacture evidence that Mr Thomas' rifle had been used for the killings." The Solicitor-General recommended against prosecuting the officers due to insufficient evidence. Both officers have since died."
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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: