The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

A City Possessed - Reviews
May 2002

A masterpiece of patient and objective research
Book review by Graham J Wright, Pleasant Point

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

After reading "A City Possessed" I wrote the following to the New Zealand Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, which also sums up my feelings about Lynley Hoods book. A masterpiece of patient and objective research.



May 19, 2002

The Hon Phil Goff

Parliament House



I have just put down Lynley Hood's book, "A City Possessed", all 672 pages of it, and if I had any doubts about a miscarriage of justice, then such doubts are now completely dispelled. I cannot see how any reasonable person reading this book could harbour doubt on the innocence of Peter Ellis.

 It has been reported that you have not, indeed will not, read "A City Possessed" because you have faith in the justice system; in the original verdict, the appeal court decisions and the subsequent enquiry. I urge you to read the book.

 Lynley Hood was able to impartially and objectively examine every facet of the case, whereas all stages of the several judicial proceedings were narrowly focused and circumscribed by rigid procedures that, under the amended rules of evidence relating to children, inexorably tilted the case in favour of the prosecution.

 In her enquiries, Hood was not bound or beholden to anyone, was not subject to professional pressures, pride or prejudice, the need to achieve a certain result, or to jealously defend an 'expert' position. Nor was she swayed by emotive and uneducated public opinion or the baying of a sensation seeking media. She bases her conclusions on a comprehensive analysis of a set of persuasive facts and on what, to any reasonable person, must be compelling and logical inferences.

 On the other hand, from the outset there is evidence of prejudice, hysteria and contamination of evidence, coupled with a clear case of tunnel vision on the part of police, 'experts', social workers and the interviewers - in other words, they were so determined to believe the worst, that ultimately they could not see the wood for the trees. Although not heard by the court, the extra-curricular activities and utterances of constables Eade and Legat, especially to the parents on the guilt of Ellis, were reprehensible.

 Lest you may feel that I am yet another lay observer, I was formerly an Inspector of Police (not in this country) with CID experience and frankly, I would not have entertained a case built upon such weak, tainted, often contradictory and demonstrably prejudiced evidence.

 Please read the book, initiate a fresh enquiry if necessary, but above all, without delay, ensure that Peter Ellis receives justice.