March 17 2001
Ellis defence denied US expert's opinion
A retired High Court judge's recommendation a formal
opinion on the Peter Ellis case be sought from an expert American
psychologist was rejected by the Crown Law Office and the later Eichelbaum
investigation, Ellis' lawyer says.
In his 1999 report, Sir Thomas Thorp recommended a formal opinion on evidence
given by children from Christchurch's Civic
Creche be obtained from Cornell
professor Stephen Ceci, Judith Ablett Kerr, QC, said yesterday.
Sir Thomas' report into convicted paedophile Ellis' case was released by
Justice Minister Phil Goff yesterday.
Ellis, freed in February last year after serving two-thirds of a 10-year
sentence for his 1993 conviction on 13 charges of abusing children, has
continued to maintain his innocence.
Mrs Ablett Kerr said the Crown Law Office rejected a request it consent to Prof
Ceci providing an independent brief to the Court of Appeal.
Former Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum also rejected a request from Mrs
Ablett Kerr last year that he approach the expert on the mass-allegation
creche case, she said.
The Eichelbaum report was released this week. "Mr Ellis is of the view
that his case will not be resolved until there is a wider inquiry and Prof
Ceci is asked to give his opinion on all the evidence," Mrs Ablett Kerr
Sir Thomas Thorp's report said the two petitions filed on behalf of Ellis
raised a "considerable number of issues sufficiently to point to a need
for further investigation".
The report canvassed issues raised in Ellis' petitions, including claims
defective interviewing techniques were used to gain the children's evidence
and that allegations by the children that were necessary for the jury to
access their reliability were excluded from the trial.
But it was inappropriate to express any firm view on whether Ellis should be
pardoned at that time, nor should a pardon be considered while his case was
before the Appeal Court,
Sir Thomas said. It would "in my view be difficult to argue against the
existence of a serious doubt" about Ellis' convictions if the opinions
canvassed proved to have general support".
Mr Goff said the report was not casting doubt on Ellis' convictions.