GUEST BLOG: My Son has been wrongfully convicted of rape – Part 5

Who will stand for Justice?

Greg King was a well known lawyer and dubbed “one of this country’s finest legal brains”. He was tenacious, fearless and had all the attributes that any criminal barrister would want. He was known for his commitment to each case he picked up, his ability to befriend those he met including those with opposing views and his ever strong fight for justice – even if it meant meticulously picking apart every aspect of a Crown’s case.

To King, it didn’t matter who you were, you deserved a fair trial and if you ignored standards and rules for one case, where would it end?

The idea of everyone deserving a fair trial is one spoken about and believed by many to happen. It’s a fundamental principle of our justice system and is a right outlined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. But, from our experience and what I’ve heard from others’ experiences since Jamie’s trial, this simple standard is not always adhered to in our justice system.

I’ve spoken before in Part 2 about evidence that was withheld by the police. With suppressions in place, it’s impossible to share with you the extent of this error. It’s also why mainstream media wouldn’t touch Jamie’s side of the story.

However, what I can expand on is that the documents the police withheld from the court, the defence counsel, the judge, and the jury were documents pertaining to conflicts of interest.

Police Instructions around Conflicts of Interest are viewable online. Investigating officers on a case must disclose actual, potential and perceived conflicts in cases they work on to ensure a Police employee’s ability to be impartial, objective and independent. It is important that conflicts of interest are recognised and properly managed. Conflicts of interest that are hidden, or poorly managed, create the risk of misconduct (or the appearance of misconduct), and could undermine public trust and confidence.

In Jamie’s case, 8 forms were signed by 8 officers.

7 of them disclosed a conflict of interest.

The conflicts were raised with two senior officers of which neither signed a conflict form themselves. But, despite nearly all of the officers disclosing a conflict of interest, all officers remained on the case.

The forms were later stamped DO NOT DISCLOSE and withheld from everyone. It was later found that more officers who didn’t sign forms to disclose a conflict, had a sure fire connection. Use of nicknames in job sheets was a clear giveaway there were personal connections.

These purposely hidden documents were later discovered by defence counsel, 5 months after the trial and requested from the police who finally handed them over.

At that point we’d hoped the Court of Appeal Judges might see a problem – they didn’t. They danced around the issue in their judgement and their final decision was “Having reassessed the trial Judge’s ruling in light of the additional information, we accept that it may have been appropriate to have allowed further cross-examination regarding the conflict of interest issue that was only raised for the first time in re-examination. However, having assessed the material ourselves and its potential influence, we are satisfied there is no real risk of it having affected the outcome of the trial.”

Given the Court of Appeals’ limited ability to investigate Police policies and procedures and specifically the conflicts themselves, we were encouraged to take this task to the organization whose role was to investigate Police and keep them accountable. The IPCA or Independent Police Conduct Authority.

We compiled a comprehensive and detailed complaint to them numbering 62 pages with proof from documents, job sheets, letters and emails. We clearly stated the questions we sought answers for. It was not a matter of proving Jamie’s innocence or with intention of overturning his conviction because the IPCA can’t do that. We simply needed answers on what we believed to be clear errors and mismanagement of this case. It should be of huge concern for the public, that dishonesty and misconduct within the force can be overlooked or worse, covered up so easily without consequence.

It is important to reiterate again, the fact that there are suppressions in place that prevent me from being able to fully explain the magnitude of these conflicts and why they were hidden.

We believed that because of these conflicts, specific witnesses were bullied into changing their statements and choice of wording.

Some witnesses (serving police officers at the time) were pressured, told to be careful what they say and served employment investigation notifications minutes before making statements. It’s not a new idea that there is bullying within the Police Force. A review done earlier this year in March showed about 40 per cent had personally experienced poor behaviour towards them over the past year.

Initial statements taken directly after the alleged incidents were later changed and reformatted. One witness, in fear we believe, left out crucial evidence of asking Jamie what was happening with him and the complainant and Jamie telling him that she had told him to meet up later.

He later made a third formal statement mid-trial to include this evidence – the day before taking the stand.

The judge ruled out this evidence under section 21 of the Evidence Act and a jury never heard it.

Section 21 rules that if a defendant in a criminal proceeding does not give evidence, the defendant may not offer his or her own hearsay statement in evidence in the proceeding. However, this wasn’t Jamie’s evidence as the defendant. It was the evidence of the witness and therefore shouldn’t have come under this ruling.

Additionally, the Crown were allowed to offer some parts of words uttered by Jamie (if it helped their case) but the defence were prohibited from offering other parts of words uttered by Jamie, because section 21 prohibited it.

When we submitted our complaint to the IPCA, we received the standard reply of thanks and the added notice that the investigation could take between 2-4 months to carry out.

Not 10 days later, we received a substandard and frankly disappointing response from the IPCA stating that they had ‘carefully considered the issues outlined in the complaint, material submitted and reviewed police records and court judgements’. All of that….apparently….in ten days.

They then discarded their own role as an Independent authority to actually be independent, do their own investigation into the police conduct and fell back on the response of the Court of Appeal – who also never did any sort of investigation.

Greg King is quoted saying “At the end of the day when the state comes against you, you’d better hope there’s someone in your corner who’s prepared to fight for the underdog because, believe me, you are the underdog.”

“We have a system of justice that values finality of verdict higher than correctness of verdict. People are interested in having cases closed and the door nailed shut on them…..and change will only come with the exposure of serious miscarriages of justice – more of them – the ones we’ve had aren’t enough obviously”

From the Police mishandling and hiding documents, to a Judge ruling out crucial evidence, to the Court of Appeal who agreed to errors and then definitively somehow knew decisions a jury would have made and even an organization who stands to be independent, failing…I can’t help but agree with Greg King. Instead of anyone standing to do the right thing, they all fell back on each other to uphold a facade of ‘Justice’ when it is anything but.

Greg King was one of the few who stood against adversity, for truth. To do the right thing, to bring true justice. He believed that there’s no greater sin that a state can commit than to wrongly convict and imprison an innocent person. The enduring sense of injustice that a person must go through sitting in a prison cell in the middle of the night when they are innocent – is too sickening to even contemplate. That’s why he worked so tirelessly – he believed ‘we have to get it right’. He believed that in NZ, people get convicted for crimes of which they were innocent on a far too regular basis.

Unfortunately for him, he stood mostly alone in his battle for true justice in a broken system. And that ultimately became the one thing that took his life.
We need to unite against injustice, against a ‘system’ which claims to govern. Our sons, fathers, uncles and friends rely on us to stand up and do what’s right. It’s why nearly 2 years later, I’m still standing, still writing, still hoping for someone to do the right thing – push through the fear or consequences.

Alone we can do little, but together we can achieve a lot.

Jackie & her Son, Jamie.

Jackie is a hardworking mother and grandmother; she is also the Managing Director of her own business. From humble beginnings, Jackie endured hardships during her childhood, spending time in Women’s Refuge and working from a young age to help support her mother and siblings. She has been married for 26 years and resides on the Hibiscus Coast with her family.

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