Sunday, 23 November 1997
"The Case In Question - Review"
Producer: Amanda Millar And Melanie Reid
Reporter: Melanie Reid
Intro Louise Wallace:
You will by now be aware of the reaction to Melanie Reid's
report about the Christchurch Civic Creche Case and the trial and conviction of
Peter Ellis for sexual abuse of children at the creche where he worked.
That special report which screened here on 20/20 last week examined how the
evidence against Ellis was gathered.
It raised serious concerns about two jury members who heard the case and
investigated the man who investigated Peter Ellis.
Recapping events since that report aired, here’s Melanie Reid.
Peter Ellis's downfall was closely linked to this man, former Christchurch detective
Colin Eade. Eade's critics believe he was a man obsessed, hell-bent on
putting Ellis behind bars. It's now emerged that Colin Eade was fighting for
his own mental stability at the time.
I felt almost burnt out, pretty close to it before the Creche Case started.
By the time it had finished I was beyond repair.
Were you on anti depressants during this case?
No I probably should have been, but I wasn't. But I have been subsequently.
(V/O) This from the detective who played a key role in the creche enquiry.
(To Cam) Do you think that you were always objective on this case?
Objective? It may have appeared that at times I was lacking objectivity. In
fact it was put to me in cross examination.
That you had it
in for Peter Ellis.
And that you were going to get him come hell or high water.
Yes, yes I guess that's the way some people saw it.
Is that the way it was?
It was the way the evidence went and I went with the evidence.
Have you got any
comment at all?
No, sorry I can't make any comment.
(V/O) Colin Eade was a key cop in the
enquiry. For the first six months he said he drove the case and he was in
charge of the file that went to court.
I was the person who dealt with the parents, the children, the doctor's the
interviewers, the psychologists, so I guess I did all the family side of
(V/O) We also revealed Colin Eade
propositioned the mother of the child who made the first formal disclosure
about Peter Ellis. (On Cam) Is there anything that you want to tell us about
It's a fairly heavy accusation for someone that was in the position that you
Look I'm not going to discuss it.
Are you denying it?
No, I'm just not discussing it.
(V/O) Following the trial he had relationships
with two mothers who believed Ellis had abused their children.
Well two relationships, sometimes I guess you meet people that you like,
sometimes relationships come from them. I know how putting this can look, but
I'm not prepared to respond to any of that.
The Peter Ellis
affair is fast becoming the Colin Eade affairs...
(V/O): Just three days ago Colin Eade
admitted to yet another affair, this time with a Social Welfare specialist
who had a significant role in the investigation. But Eade says that
relationship happened after he left the police, some seven months after the
Ellis trial. Nigel Hampton Q.C. who was involved in taking Ellis' case to the
Court of Appeal was astounded by news of another creche related liaison.
It raises quite
difficult questions about what was going on within this investigative team
ah, what moral criteria they were applying in terms of the work, let alone
what morals they were applying within themselves.
(V/O): Mid week the police announced an
enquiry into the creche investigation and in particular the conduct of Colin
Merely looking at
police aspects, certain police aspects, I don't think is good enough. The
more that is being revealed the more that is coming out now just underlines
the need for a proper enquiry.
(V/O) New light too on the child
complainants. Along with the girl who officially recanted her evidence, it is
understood other child witnesses have since changed their stories.
It does happen a lot with child complainants that to some extent or other
they withdraw, or they try to withdraw from what's happened.
So has it happened in the Creche Case.
With about how many children?
Well I'm not sure how many but I'd be surprised if not all of them have done
it at some stage.
So you're telling me that you wouldn't be surprised if the children that
convicted Peter Ellis have since turned round and said ÔLook this didn't
At some stage.
(V/O) And a key revelation in last
week's story raised questions about the impartiality of two members of the
jury. Firstly there was the jury foreman. This is the marriage certificate of
Crown Prosecutor Brent Stanaway. It's signed by the minister who performed
Stanaway's marriage ceremony. That minister was the foreman of the jury.
Brent Stanaway told 20/20 he had not seen the jury foreman for fifteen and a
half years, and he didn't recognise him until two or three days into the
trial. He did not think it was necessary to inform the judge of his past
connection. Nigel Hampton Q.C. has a different view.
I think it should
have been made mention of. I think it's quite alarming it wasn't. It's a
(V/O): There is another jury member
whose impartiality could be questioned. This jury member was living in a
lesbian relationship...her partner worked in a small Christchurch building and shared the same
office, in fact she sat across the desk from a complainant child's mother.
What's more the child in this case was the Crown's most credible witness and
her mother also gave evidence against Peter Ellis.
Who can tell now
what significance that would have had in terms of influencing other jury
members as to the believability, the credibility, the acceptability of the
evidence of this particular child. I am quite sure from what I am now told about
it that that would have led to a stopping of the trial and of starting again.
(V/O) And this week the Solicitor
General referred the concerns about the jury to the Minister of Justice Doug
Graham who's also awaiting other significant submissions.
So it is a matter
to be taken seriously and the sooner those applications are actually filed
obviously the better it is, because if there has been a miscarriage of
justice which can be corrected later by the Court of Appeal, then the sooner
that is done, the better.
(V/O) And that question of justice was
being hotly debated in New
Does he consider
that the police enquiry into the Christchurch
There should be a
judicial enquiry into the handling of this whole case...
Given that we
learn from Detective Eade on 20/20 Television Three programme...
(V/O) And most unexpected were the
sentiments from M.P. John Banks. He was Minister of Police at the time of
Ellis's trial. Back then he described Ellis as Ôwalking evil'. And in the
media he had no qualms in justifying his dramatic u-turn.
Well what has
changed is that the evidence upon which he was convicted for child abuse
looks like it is falling apart. Now there's only one thing worse than being
convicted of child abuse, and that is serving time in jail when you're not
guilty of child abuse.
(V/O) Then Rana Waitai, former Police Superintendent and current Chairman of
the Justice and Law Reform Parliamentary Select Committee. He called for
Ellis to be pardoned and released.
I also believe he
should be compensated hugely and an Enquiry should take place to look at a number
of aspects of that whole investigation.
(V/O) The Justice and Law Reform Select
Committee put Police Commissioner Peter Doone on the spot. It was here he
agreed to a police enquiry into the creche investigation procedures.
And I can assure
you that if there are any ethical, procedural or fairness breaches on the
part of the police at the end of that stage, I will take every step to ensure
that justice will be done.
(V/O) And opposition Justice
spokesperson Phil Goff was demanding answers.
And the fact that
not all evidence of the children witnesses were produced, will he now
approach the Minister of Justice to advocate a new trial for Peter Ellis. If
not why not?
inappropriate to comment on this matter at this time due to the counsel for
Mr Ellis making a submission to the Governor General.
(V/O) Peter Ellis's counsel Judith
Ablett-Kerr Q.C. will submit that petition to the Governor General at the end
of this week. She is requesting Peter Ellis a free pardon.
As we started to
look at the case it became clear that there were matters that were
significantly disturbing about this case. And the 20/20 programme with the
jury revelations have confirmed that.
(V/O) One woman who has never given up
is Leslie Ellis. She was there for every day of her son's trial and she will
continue to fight for his freedom.
I want him out
and I want a proper enquiry into all that went on. Peter's not the only one
(V/O) Others remain unconvinced by the
developments. Greg O'Connor of the New Zealand Police Association
There's a man in
prison, a paedophile in prison where he belongs. As a result of this
documentary and other people with vested interest bringing this thing to the
public, the people who really suffer time and time again, are the victims.
(V/O) And this statement from some parents of children involved
in the trial.
are little more than apologists for a convicted paedophile. Their
grandstanding, along with a retrial by media overlooks the central evidence
from the children, which has always been upheld. We are confident that a
police enquiry will confirm as much and that their original investigation
resulted in a correct outcome, that Ellis is behind bars.
(V/O) In our interview with Peter Ellis
five years ago we put those views to him.
(On Cam) Those people are convinced that you abused their children.
I think the sad thing is that probably for a long time they will. And I hope
one day that they are actually going to be prepared to come along and say,
'Hello Peter. Can you tell me, did we get it wrong?' And I'll tell them, they
got it wrong, because it didn't happen.
lawyer Judith Ablett Kerr Q.C. intends to have a petition for a free pardon
for Ellis before the Governor General by the end of the week.
Link to "The Case In
Question" Part 1 - Nov 16, 1997
Link to "The Case In
Question" Part 2 - Nov 16, 1997
Link to "The Case In
Question" Part 3 - Nov 16, 1997