'Charge police who rigged Crewe case'

Last updated 05:00 11/04/2013
Arthur Allan Thomas
CHRIS HILLOCK/Fairfax NZ

FIGHTING BACK: Arthur Allan Thomas during a family press conference in Waikato yesterday.

Thomas speaks out

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Former police officers should be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice during the Crewe murder investigation, Arthur Allan Thomas' family says.

The demand was made during a rare public appearance by Mr Thomas yesterday at Pukekawa Hall, near Mercer, in Waikato.

Mr Thomas, 75, has gone public after inflammatory comments made during a eulogy at the funeral of former police prosecutor Bruce Hutton by Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Mr Hutton led the investigation into the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe that put Mr Thomas behind bars until he was pardoned.

At the press conference yesterday, Mr Thomas' younger brother, Des, said senior police officers suppressed vital evidence during the Crewe saga and should be exposed.

Mr Thomas' elder brother, Ray, said there were at least 10 people alive today with question marks by their name.

But the primary reason for the press conference was Mr Bush's comments at Mr Hutton's funeral in Auckland last Friday.

Mr Bush quoted an officer who had said Mr Hutton had "integrity beyond reproach".

Mr Thomas said he wanted to set the record straight: Mr Hutton was a "bad apple".

Flanked by Des, Ray, and his daughter, Bridgette, Mr Thomas said Mr Bush's eulogy had "shocked and dismayed" him.

"As the second-highest-ranking police officer in New Zealand, it is totally inappropriate for him to commend a man whose actions not only twice led to my wrongful prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for almost 10 years of my life, but who perverted the course of justice, and committed a number of other serious criminal acts."

Mr Bush's comments suggested the independent review under way into the Crewe homicide file would be a "whitewash".

Mr Thomas was convicted in two trials - in 1971 and 1973 - of the killing of the Crewes at their Pukekawa home, but was pardoned nine years later.

A royal commission of inquiry in 1980 found that Mr Hutton and one of his detectives, Len Johnston, faked evidence against Mr Thomas by planting a cartridge case from Mr Thomas' rifle at the murder scene.

Mr Hutton never accepted the commission's finding.

In a statement Mr Bush said "the audience for the eulogy was the grieving family of Bruce Hutton".

"In this circumstance it was appropriate for me to recognise the service he gave to police from the comments made in his file which dated back to 1956."

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said Mr Bush read a range of positive comments from Mr Hutton's service file.

"This included a comment made in 1967 from then Chief Inspector W R Fleming, who said: his integrity is beyond reproach."

Mr Marshall gave an assurance the comments in no way affected the outcome of the review, which was nearly complete.

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