An expert on the 1970 murders of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe says fresh details of how police framed Arthur Allan Thomas are still coming to light, lending weight to calls for an independent inquiry into the original police investigation.
Researcher Chris Birt says he has finally cleared up one mystery - the timing of when detectives planted the cartridge case that pointed to Thomas, who spent 10 years in prison before being released, pardoned and given compensation.
Birt said a 1980 Royal Commission of Inquiry found that a cartridge case from Thomas's rifle was planted by inquiry head Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton and one of his detectives, Len Johnston, but was unable to pin down the timing.
Birt used the Official Information Act to obtain a police jobsheet never shown to the commission or Thomas's lawyers, which he said put Hutton and Johnston "firmly in the frame". He said it described an interview with Jeanette Crewe's father, Len Demler, and was "the smoking gun”.
"It puts Hutton and Johnston together in the locality on the day two neighbours heard shots being fired at the scene and saw two men on the porch, just five metres from the garden where the cartridge case was found. It's a vital piece of evidence that eluded the commissioners and the various counsel at that inquisition into malpractice. Had Thomas's lawyers in 1971 and 1973, and more particularly in 1980, known, they would have been able to join the dots."
Birt said misleading evidence was given in relation to tests at the house involving the rifle, and as a consequence, no-one was able to get to the bottom of when the cartridge case was planted.
Birt, who recently published his second book on the murders, All the Commissioner's Men, and launched a website soliciting information, said the disclosure added weight to the call by the Crewes' daughter, Rochelle, for a new independent inquiry into the way police conducted the investigation.
- © Fairfax NZ News