The Christchurch Civic Crčche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

A City Possessed - Reviews


The Star (Dunedin)
January 31 2002.

The Rich Report
Book Review by Katherine Rich, M.P.

A City Possessed:
The Christchurch Civic Creche Case
by Lynley Hood.
Publisher: Longacre Press 2001

When I picked up Lynley Hood's 600-page book A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Creche Case, I worried that I wouldn’t have the time or the inclination to finish it. I shouldn’t have. The book is unputdownable (if there is such a word).

During the 1990s I had not followed the Peter Ellis case, but in the back of my mind, I suppose I had faith that the legal system would a) give him a fair trial and b) justice would be done. Having read the book, I am left with unsettling doubt and a gnawing feeling that neither was achieved.

There is not space in this column to list the evidence but it's my personal opinion that if the jury had seen and heard all the evidence (despite the mood of Christchurch at the time) Peter Ellis could not have been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

If some people think it is a crime to use flamboyant speech, have long fingernails or be a gay man working in early childcare, then Peter Ellis is guilty. But based on the evidence that's about all he is guilty of.

The case (the full case) needs to be reviewed and Phil Goff must acquaint himself with the book. I can understand that a Minister may not have time to read 600 pages but that is no excuse for not having an official read it or at least making oneself acquainted with the key points.

In 1973 after two trials, three appeal dismissals and a declination by the Privy Council, Rob Muldoon instructed Mr Adams-Smith QC to review the Arthur Alan Thomas case.

Based on the report Muldoon noted in his book My Way that "it was, very clear to the Cabinet that the statements seen in the report seen by the ordinary citizen, would cause him to say that Thomas had not been proved guilty `beyond reasonable doubt'.

Phil Goff is faced with a similar situation 29 years later.

Your comments and letters are appreciated.

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