Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020

Convicted double-killer David Tamihere wins legal bid to seek TVNZ chopper footage

Convicted double killer David Tamihere has won his latest legal challenge in a bid to clear his name and reveal the “truth”.

He has been granted a disclosure hearing in relation to footage held by TVNZ of a helicopter flight he took in 2012 over the Coromandel.

Tamihere, 67, who has always maintained his innocence, was released in 2010 after spending 20 years in prison for the murders of Swedish tourists Sven Urban Hoglin, 23, and Heidi Paakkonen, 21.

He told the Herald he hopes the TVNZ footage will show the distance between where Hoglin’s body was found and a sighting of Tamihere, which would help prove he was not guilty of the crime.

A Court of Appeal judgment says the footage that is likely to be held by TVNZ is “broadly relevant” to one of the grounds of the appeal – the potential inconsistency between the discovery of Hoglin’s remains in the Wentworth Valley and the identification evidence placing Tamihere in Crosbies Clearing.

Speaking to the Herald today, Tamihere said: “TVNZ told my lawyer, Murray Gibson, he has to apply for a court order before they will release the footage. I am hoping the footage will show the distance between where the body was found and where I was at.

“It’s about 30 odd kilometers between Wentworth Valley and Crosbies crossing, with the Coromandel Range in the middle. The distances and time frames don’t match up with the Crown’s theory.”

The judgement says “the footage is relevant and in the public interest, it will assist him in the appeal and is probative in the sense of assisting the court in appreciating the topography of the relevant area”.

“There is no expectation of privacy that attaches to this information and TVNZ acknowledges the disclosure can occur subject to a court order. Disclosure will promote fairness to Tamihere in the appeal process.”

TVNZ’s acting head of news and current affairs Graeme Muir said TVNZ required a court order when footage was requested in court proceedings.

“This is to ensure that we’re not seen to be assisting either side in matters of public interest, and that as a result our editorial independence is protected.”

The Herald revealed in March 2012 that Tamihere flew over the Coromandel Peninsula, where the Swedish tourists were last seen alive, in a helicopter with a TVNZ crew for current affairs show Sunday.

His parole conditions state he cannot visit the region past Kopu and Whangamata without Probation service approval.

The Corrections Department applied to the Parole Board to recall him to prison but it was declined as he was not a greater risk to the public but had made “a serious mistake of judgement”.

When Tamihere was arrested in 1989 he had been living in the Coromandel bush for two years, on the run after jumping bail while awaiting trial for the rape of a 62-year-old woman.

He had previously served time for the manslaughter of a stripper he says he accidentally hit on the head with a rifle.

He was convicted of the Swedish tourists’ murders on circumstantial evidence and at the time of his trial no bodies had been found.

After Tamihere’s conviction, Hoglin’s body was discovered by pig hunters in bush 73km from where police said the murders took place.

Earlier this year he was granted a Royal Prerogative of Mercy to have his case reviewed by the Court of Appeal. The development comes three years after key witness Roberto Conchie Harris – a prisoner informant known as ‘Witness C’ – was jailed for lying in Tamihere’s 1990 trial.

The private prosecution was brought about by former prisoner Arthur Taylor who has since been released on parole.

Harris told the jury Tamihere confessed to him that he had sexually assaulted the Swedish tourists and dumped their bodies into the sea.

Paakkonen’s body has never been found.

Harris swore an affidavit claiming the police offered him $100,000 for evidence against Tamihere then retracted it claiming he had been threatened by gang members in prison.

The Police Complaints Authority investigated the allegations of police corruption and bribery. They cleared the police finding Harris had no basis.

There is no date set for the Court of Appeal hearing yet but Tamihere is determined to keep on fighting for justice.

“The Court of Appeal hearing is the first step and hopefully there will be a retrial.

“I have never given up. It’s time for our children and grandchildren and my entire whanau to know the truth.

“We have discovered so many loopholes in the law. They basically wrote me off at the start but you become a nutter if you brood on it too much.”

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