On 4 September 2019, Mr Ellis passed away. This raised the issue of whether the appeal should continue despite his death. The Court heard argument on this issue on 14 November 2019 and 25 June 2020. The second hearing addressed the relevance of tikanga to the issue of continuation of the appeal.
The Court has decided that the appeal is to continue despite the death of the appellant.
Reasons for this decision will be provided at the same time as our judgment on the substantive appeal.
I’m delighted the Supreme Court has ruled this way, hopefully allowing Peter Ellis to clear his name.
I think any exception to the “must be living” rule should be relatively narrow. You don’t want appeals occuring 30 years after someone has died. But as he was alive when the appeal started, it seems fair.
I have always thought the Ellis convictions were unsafe, to put it mildly. But since having children of my own, I am even more convinced they were a misscariage of justice.
My oldest is aged three, the age most of the Christchurch Creche kids were. And let me tell you he comes up with absolute nonsense that he insists is real. Kids that age simply do not have reliable memories. His stories are hilarious and endearing but also often fantasy.
A good example was at the ECE Centre the other day. The teacher asked who had done something, and two of the kids replied with the the name of another girl. That girl had in fact left the ECE for school around four weeks earlier!
I am hopeful that the fact the Supreme Court has even allowed the appeal to continue may indicate they see it has some merits. If they thought it was without merit, I doubt they would have ruled it should continue.