Guest Post on the Crewe Murders

October 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by regular commentator Flipper:

The Fisher “expose” piece in relation to the Crewe, Thomas, and Hutton saga, in this morning’s Herald, has one element of truth of which Fisher is unaware – that relating to inside information given to Muldoon. But, importantly, that revelation adds to, and supports what Flipper was told (by an impeccable Royal Commission source, of which more later) at the time. Much of what follows has been previously published in other Kiwiblog threads. But today we have something new – a something that fills an empty jigsaw space.

Fisher quotes A A Thomas’ brother, Des, claiming today that Muldoon had received a detailed deathbed confession from one of Hutton’s conspirators. This is in relation to the content of a letter strongly advising against any pardon on the grounds that one would be to make a mockery of our system of justice

“…. Mr Thomas would not comment but his brother Des, who has spoken for the family, said there was a strong case to be made that Sir Robert had inside knowledge. He said there was evidence Len Johnston, one of the detectives implicated in the planting of evidence, had confessed on his deathbed in the late 1970s. The story – ruled out as true by the police review – saw the confession to his vicar passed to a bishop, who passed it to Sir Robert.”

Des Thomas said the story was credible despite police dismissing it because it explained why Sir Robert appointed Anglican Archbishop the Most Rev Allen Johnston as one of the royal commissioners.

That conclusion is supported by several things:
• The Solicitor General, Richard Savage, and Crown Law, did not appear at the Royal Commission, and it appears that they were instructed to remove themselves from involvement;
• The Crown prosecutor, Morris, had his own, personal, legal representation
• According to one of the Commissioners, Rt Hon Peter Gordon (aka “Hiss and Roar”), former Archbishop Johnston personally penned the words used in their report to condemn Hutton.

Then Solicitor General, Richard Savage, in a letter to Rob Muldoon….” said [Muldoon was Rt Hon “, not “Sir” then] could do nothing, he could refer the case with its report back to the Court of Appeal, or he could grant a pardon. He (Savage) told the Prime Minister: “I feel to pardon or release Thomas on the basis of this report would be to make a mockery of our system of justice. He said there was “nothing new” in the two reports which had not been before the courts.

Mr Savage said …. “To substitute his (Adams-Smith) opinion … for that of the juries and the courts would in my opinion be quite wrong.” He said Sir Robert’s other options were to refer it to the courts, which would allow the Government to base further action on a court decision and “not that of one man who, of necessity, could not hear the opposing points of view argued”.

He said the most “justified” response would be to take no action. He also suggested Sir Robert publicly announce it would be up to Mr Thomas to take the reports to the Governor-General to ask for a pardon.

Mr Savage’s opinion for Sir Robert was dated December 10, 1979.

“Exactly one week later Mr Thomas was pardoned. He was paid $950,000 compensation. The subsequent royal commission of inquiry into the conviction found that Mr Thomas should never have been arrested. [Fisher, as with much of what he writes, is wrong, The compensation was agreed later, following a separate RC hearing on that matter – Report of the Royal Commission ToR 6 – Paras 474 – 513]

“What did Muldoon know in order to get Adams-Smith to do the report? Did Len Johnston confess on his deathbed?”

As some will be aware, Flipper has previously posted details in relation to the internal manoeuvring of the Thomas Royal Commission. I know some of the inside, publicly undisclosed detail, from luncheon and dinner table conversations with more than one of the actual participants.

Let me state at the outset that the efforts of Booth, Sprott, Yallop, et al kept the issue in front of the public at a time when the judiciary had closed ranks and walked away. The inquiry by Adams-Smith was at the direction of Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, and was made over the objections of Crown Law, Crown Prosecutors, and Police.

But it was the senile former Justice McGregor whose door step dismissal of Muldoon that sealed the fate of the Thomas conspiracy. When the man previously tasked with reviewing all evidence in the Thomas case, looked at Muldoon and said he did not know who he was, it became clear to RDM that McGregor had simply done “the decent thing” for his judicial brethren — at the cost of the continued incarceration of an innocent man.

[There is a real similarity to what Savage’s wrote in defence of his legal brethren – no doubt with one eye on a Judicial appointment]

The first Adams-Smith report was widely published with only one section (then still under investigation) being redacted. The second resulted in a conversation between Muldoon and McLay. (Then Savage’s letter hit RDM’s desk) The latter (McLay) was instructed not to involve Crown Law or the Police prior to Cabinet discussion and decision. Muldoon took his recommendation to The Cabinet, had it endorsed, and instructed McLay to attend to the paper work. It was done, almost that quickly, and the Police first learned of the pardon from news media.

The Royal Commission faced an initial legal challenge (I will be kind and call it “clarification request”) from the CL/Police establishment on the meaning of a free pardon – a clarification that served to aid Thomas as time went by. The Royal Commission (Taylor, Gordon & Johnston) was faced with obfuscation, lies, and half-truths (a reminder that Fisher [former HC Judge and QC), not the Herald’s Fisher] had a piece of that), but they saw through them all. And, as I have previously commented in other threads, the former Archbishop Johnston was the original author of the words condemning Hutton. He would have gone further and linked Morris, but as one of the Commissioners (Peter Gordon) told me, “We could not link all the dots.” Morris , having been told that Crown Law had received instructions not to become involved, appointed his personal legal counsel to protect his interests.

The judicial pin-head dancing is all very well, and may, of course, be important.

But the judiciary does NOT exist to protect only the State or the Crown. It exists, does it not, to oversee the just administration/enforcement of New Zealand law? Recent events in relation to at least three other high profile cases suggest that nothing has changed. If Adams does take her new responsibilities seriously, she will move to adopt the Law Commission’s recommendation on the establishment of a Criminal Cases Review Commission – Stet.

Who killed the Crewes?

August 1st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An elite police criminal profiler built a psychological model of the murderer who killed the Crewes – and ruled out the motive detectives say drove Arthur Allan Thomas to commit the crime.

The profiler also diminished the role of Jeannette Crewe in any motive, saying a dispute between her husband Harvey and the killer likely festered for four years until the murder was committed through a “distorted desire to punish”. …

The profiler identified up to six criminal acts against the Crewes in the four years before their murders. They included a burglary in 1967, a fire in the Crewes’ nursery in 1968 and the destruction by fire of a hay barn in 1969 – the year before the double murder.

The pattern showed “escalating criminal progression”.

“Someone did not like them and their hatred was evolving over time. The burglary and fires were precursor offences by the perpetrator of the murders.”

The criminal profile said the killer knew the Crewes well and “wanted to intimidate” and “possibly drive them out of the district”.

If Ewen Macdonald was alive in 1970, I’d suggest they go interview him 🙂

I used to think it was Len Demler, but who knows.

The Crewe murders

September 1st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Leading legal experts are disgusted that Arthur Allan Thomas and his family are again under scrutiny in an inquiry into the Crewe murders.

Wait. Are they saying that because Thomas was found not guilty, that his family are automatically cleared also?

And legal experts are in fact divided, not disgusted.

“The fabrication of evidence against Arthur Allan Thomas was the blackest day in the history of the New Zealand police force, and they should be full of remorse, and they should be trying to make amends,” said Peter Williams QC, Thomas’ former lawyer.

“It disgusts me if they are trying to drag his name through the mud again,” he said.

I agree on the fabrication of evidence being despicable. But how are the Police dragging his name through the mud by interviewing him and his family? It is the family that went rushing to the media that generated the publicity.

“To turn Rochelle’s application for an inquiry into a rehearing of the evidence against Thomas, if they are trying to do that, is repugnant to any citizen’s sense of justice. It is absolutely despicable,” Williams said.

Thomas is a material witness in the case, even if he is not the killer. How could the Police be doing their job if they do not talk to him?

However, the president of the Criminal Bar Association, Tony Bouchier, said police must be able to interview Arthur Thomas again to conduct the inquiry properly.

“What we have is an unsolved murder the police have undertaken to have a look at again.

“In that regard, when there are questions to be put to people, whether they are the Allan Thomas family or not, those questions need to be put.”

So that legal expert says the Police are acting perfectly properly.

But no matter what police find, Arthur Thomas can never be retried.

Law reforms in 2009 allowing defendants to be retried even if they are acquitted of murder do not apply to the Thomas case.

Personally I think it was probably Len Demler, but we will never know.

Hutton dies

April 2nd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The policeman found to have planted evidence that led to the wrongful conviction of Arthur Allan Thomas for the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe has died.

The Herald has learned that former Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton, 83, died in Middlemore Hospital late on Sunday night after a short illness. …

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.”

Neither Mr Hutton nor Detective Sergeant Johnston, who died in 1978, were investigated by police over the allegations of wrongdoing or held to account.

The Solicitor-General at the time said there was not enough information to lay charges against them.

It is a pity they were never charged. Their alleged actions were toxic to the Police, and should not be tolerated.

Goff to strengthen leadership further

April 1st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff announced on Tuesday that his handling of the Hughes affair had in fact strengthened his leadership. In a bid to close the 20+ point gap with National, in the polls, the front bench signed off a series of further initiatives to strengthen his leadership and public appeal.

  • Trevor Mallard to be arrested for the Crewe murders and Phil Goff to reveal he planted the bullet that framed Arthur Allan Thomas
  • Clare Curran to be exposed as also having had a paper run in Andersons Bay, and that on the day of the Bain murders she delivered David’s papers for him. Goff to reveal he supressed this information from the public, to protect the innocent Bain
  • Annette King to confess she ran an illegal brothel in her office,while Minister of Health. Evidence to be produced that four of her staff married MPs, for which King got a commission on each marriage. Goff was in on the scam as the marriage celebrant

The PM can not open a Police investigation!

October 25th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Arthur Allan Thomas will petition the Prime Minister to reopen the investigation into the Crewe murders.

“It’s going to the Prime Minister. The police are just cover-uppers and the Prime Minister is the only man who can do something about it.”

No the Prime Minister can not re-open a Police investigation. Only the Police can. If the PM could re-open a Police investigation, then he would have re-opened the one into Labour’s electoral over-spending in 2005.

The PM also can not close down an SFO investigation.