Officer's 'satanist attack' story to be filmed

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 14/03/2014

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The strange tale of the Palmerston North police officer who faked a satanist attack against himself is to become the centre of a television feature.

NZ on Air has granted $2.6 million to Screentime New Zealand to make a two-hour tele-feature on Operation Venus and Mars, the investigations undertaken when Brent Frederick Garner, a Palmerston North fraud squad detective, claimed he had been the victim of a "satanist attack" in 1996.

The Garner home in Oak Cres, Ashhurst, exploded in flames about 4am on October 18. Garner, then 32, bleeding from criss-cross slashes over his back and bound hand and foot was found lying in the back yard.

He told of a tall bearded attacker who bound and gagged him, slashed him and poured petrol over him. He said he had crashed his way out of the house before it erupted in flames.

Police called in reinforcements from other parts of the country to investigate, fearing the attacker may target other police officers.

A series of letters signed by "The Executioner" were sent to police and media. They were later identified as Garner's own creations.

Public sympathy for Garner and his family saw $11,000 in cash, furniture and goods donated to help them rebuild.

Five weeks after the incident, Garner was arrested and charged with offences including faking an attack upon himself, arson, insurance fraud, sending threatening letters and wasting police time.

He inflicted upon himself the slashes across his back, using a scalpel attached to a stick that was destroyed in the fire.

Police said the events had arisen because Garner wanted to get the insurance money from the house, leave his wife and two small children, and move in with a civilian police worker.

Garner was found dead in his car near Edgecumbe, Bay of Plenty, in 2003. There were no suspicious circumstances.

The tele-feature will screen on TV One.

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- Manawatu Standard

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