‘Witness C’ convicted for perjury, Tamihere still convicted

The murder case against David Tamihere in 1990 was controversial. The guilty verdict relied in part on testimony of secret witnesses (prison inmates claiming Tamihere confessed), but ‘Witness C’ has now been revealed as a double murderer who was last year convicted of lying in the Tamihere case.

RNZ: Identity of ‘Witness C’ in Tamihere case revealed

The identity of a secret prison informant who gave evidence at David Tamihere’s 1990 murder trial can now be revealed.

Roberto Conchie Harris – a convicted double murderer – was the secret jailhouse snitch at the trial of David Tamihere, 27 years ago.

His evidence at Tamihere’s 1990 trial included claims Tamihere had confided in him, disclosing how he had sexually abused Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Hoglin before murdering them.

Harris shot Carol Pye, 28, and and her partner Trevor Crossley, 25, after an argument over marijuana in 1983.

Mrs Pye’s children found her body in the garden of their Titoki farmhouse in Northland when they arrived home from school. Mr Crossley’s body was about nine metres away. Both had been shot in the head.

As well as callously killing two people and leaving a dreadful discovery for their children Harris may have ruined tamihere’s life as well.

Tamihere was found guilty and was sentenced to life. He was paroled in 2010 and has always maintained his innocence.

While serving the sentence Harris told the police Tamihere had confided in him.

He later told Tamihere’s trial that Tamihere had told him he had met the Swedish backpackers at a camping area before sexually assaulting both of them and dumping their bodies at sea.

Five years later he flip-flopped on his evidence.

While inside prison, Harris swore an affidavit claiming the police had offered him $100,000 for his evidence against Tamihere.

He claimed the police would also support him at his upcoming parole hearing.

The affidavit – sworn in front of a lawyer working for Tamihere’s brother, former MP John Tamihere – was kept secret for a year before being released to the media.

But a year later, Harris changed his evidence again.

In 1996 he retracted the entire affidavit, claiming he had been threatened in prison by gang members.

In 2006 Harris was paroled for the second time. His first taste of freedom in 1992 ended when he was recalled to prison after being arrested for assault and demanding money.

His second release was even briefer.

On the day he was let out of prison, he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old, the granddaughter of the woman he was meant to be moving in with.

Harris’s conviction for perjury was as a result of a private prosecution. Last year: Convicted murderer David Tamihere slams ‘ludicrous’ claims

The Weekend Herald reported that a jailhouse informant who claimed Tamihere confessed to murdering Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Urban Hoglin is being sued for perjury.

The private prosecution is being brought by self-styled jailhouse “lawyer” Arthur Taylor, who claims that the informant made direct admissions to him that he had lied at Tamihere’s trial.

Tamihere, who has served his time and now lives in West Auckland, told Fairfax he has a letter from a secret witness who admits lying at his trial.

He also rejected the snitch’s claims about what he is supposed to have done to the dead tourists.

“I dumped them at sea, according to him, stole a runabout from a camping ground and run him out to sea … weighted the body and dropped it over the side. I cleaned the boat up and put it back and then did it again with the female.

Ms Paakkonen’s body has never been found but the discovery of Mr Hoglin’s remains near Whangamata conflicted with testimony by the prison informant, who testified that Tamihere had told him he had weighted their bodies and dumped them at sea.

According to perjury charges filed in court, the informant had claimed Tamihere had told him that he:

• Met Ms Paakkonen and Mr Hoglin at a picnic area.
• Assaulted and tied up Mr Hoglin.
• Sexually assaulted both.
• Disposed of Mr Hoglin by beating his head with a lump of wood.
• Had Ms Paakkonen with him when he “almost got sprung” when “a couple” came across
• Strangled Ms Paakkonen.
• Gave Mr Hoglin’s watch to one of his sons.

Mr Hoglin’s body was found with his watch and a pathologist found no evidence of skull fractures or a broken neck.

Tamihere is still a convicted murderer with a life sentence, and could be recalled to prison if he breaks the law.

The perjury conviction on top of other claims since unproven make the conviction look very shaky.

 

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16 Comments

  1. Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 27, 2018

      The ‘evidence’ would need to match, to some degree, evidence that they couldn’t have known. Let’s say that the killer had worn X brand of tramping boots, which is not likely to have made the news. The snitch says that the killer was glad of his X boots for a quick getaway through the bush. Or that his hands were shaking when he opened the car door and he made scratches all over the place, when the door was badly scratched around the lock. That kind of thing.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 27, 2018

        I meant ‘couldn’t have known OTHERWISE’, PDT, as should have been obvious.

        Reply
  2. Time to go after the police accomplices to this litany of lies.
    And publish ALL the names

    Reply
    • NOEL

       /  April 27, 2018

      A hearsay statement is admissible in any proceeding if–
      (a) the circumstances relating to the statement provide reasonable assurance that the statement is reliable.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 27, 2018

        I find it very hard to believe that the police go all out and commit perjury in order to put someone – anyone – behind bars. What incentive would they have to do this, knowing that the real killer was out there having a good laugh at the thought of some mug inside for their crime ? And knowing that the real killer was free to do it again ?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 27, 2018

          Three people think that the police would go all out to have an innocent person imprisoned and the real criminal left to be free and unpunished – not to mention free to commit more crimes ? Why ??? What motive would they have ?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  April 27, 2018

            Ego.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 27, 2018

              There may be some like that, but the fallout would not be worth it, surely, if they were found out.

            • Gezza

               /  April 27, 2018

              It’s when they combine that ego with the absolute conviction they are RIGHT, that they KNOW who did it, that they’ve got the RIGHT MAN (or woman, or LGBTACQRSTUVWXY – Z pending – person or non-person) & so they stop looking at all the evidence & ignore any that might prove innocence. It’s not necessarily deliberately falsely convicting someone. Sometimes it’s just laziness & ego.

  3. NOEL

     /  April 27, 2018

    David Tamihere had a prior conviction for the manslaughter of an Auckland stripper, 23-year-old Mary Barcham, whom he killed in 1972 when he was 18 by hitting her on the head with a rifle. ] In April 1986 he broke into an Auckland house, where he sexually violated and threatened to kill a 47-year-old woman over six hours. He pleaded guilty, but fled while on bail and was still at large, living rough in the bush on Coromandel Peninsula, when the two tourists disappeared.
    He stole the tourist car and possession.

    And people wonder why he was a suspect.

    Reply
    • seer

       /  April 27, 2018

      A very cynical way for the system to get “closure”?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 27, 2018

        I have always thought that he was the kind of mean bugger who’d steal a car and leave the owners stranded without caring about them being left by the roadside, but was always dubious about him murdering the two Swedes.

        Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 27, 2018

    Prison snitches are an indictment of the police rather than the accused.

    Reply
    • phantom snowflake

       /  April 27, 2018

      I acknowledge that these (and other) claims were made by a known liar; still it makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

      Witness C now claims in the affidavit that evidence given at the trial was “legally and morally wrong”; before signing a statement which formed the substance of his evidence he was told by Detective Sanderson that “a sum of money up to $100,000 was available should I decide to give a statement helpful to the Police”; and that the same Detective outlined for him “things that would be beneficial to the Police” thereby providing details which would give his evidence strength and verisimilitude. There was also the inducement of favourable support by a Police officer at an upcoming Parole Board hearing
      http://ipca.govt.nz/includes/download.aspx?ID=104271

      Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  April 27, 2018

        If I’d read the post properly I would have seen that this was covered. [Cringe]

        Reply

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