Police are rejecting claims they failed to launch an investigation into a former detective at the heart of the 1970 Crewe murders.
Arthur Allan Thomas was twice convicted of the murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe at Pukekawa, Waikato, then pardoned after nine years in jail when a Royal Commission ruled police planted evidence against him.
Thomas’ brother, Des, claims former Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton avoided a probe into the way he handled the Crewe case because police failed to launch a criminal investigation while Hutton was alive, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Hutton died in April 2013 from a terminal illness. Six months earlier, Des Thomas had filed a formal criminal complaint against him.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has been asked to find out why Hutton was not investigated before he died.
A police statement issued tonight said police "absolutely reject" assertions it waited for Hutton to die, in relation to the Crewe case.
"This has no basis in truth. The matters raised by Des Thomas in his complaint of October 2012 are being considered by the review team led by Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock.
"This is the appropriate forum given the review is a comprehensive process tasked with evaluating any new evidence that indicates actual or potential criminal liability on the part of any person that is disclosed within the source material reviewed, and in regard to any new information that comes to light."
Police said the three-year time frame for the review reflects the thousands of hours of staff time involved and the 90,000 pages of documentation which must be considered. There are also interviews with people who may have information about the murder which took place nearly 44 years ago.
"Every aspect of the review has itself been subject to independent assessment by Mr David Jones QC and this will continue."
The review is being finalised and its findings will be made public by mid-2014.
‘‘Naturally police will assist the IPCA with any aspect of its investigation into the complaint laid by Mr Thomas.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News