Allegations of abuse by NZ Police

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This page last updated June 1 2007

March 3-4 2007; Summaries of the case
The NZ Herald gives a review of the three cases involving a woman at Mt Maunganui (Guilty verdicts) and the allegations by Louise Nicholas (Not Guilty verdicts) and the latest trial (Not Guilty verdicts). With comments about academics involved in studies on rape: Nicola Gavey (Auckland) refers to the morality and ethics of the defendants, and finds the defence of consensual sex was "implausible" and "doesn't ring true"  Jan Jordan (Victoria) does not believe the trials put enough emphasis on the power imbalance that existed.

Rachel Morton of the NZ Herald provides a list of the main people involved

Michael Laws writes in the Sunday Star Times: The jury verdict from the trial of Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum was absolutely inevitable. The burden of reasonable doubt was always going to be too high a mountain to climb. As was similarly plain with the Louise Nicholas case. More important: the police knew this. Especially after the Nicholas case. There was even less evidence and less corroboration in this current trial. I have little doubt that the attorney-general and Crown Law so advised the police. But they persisted…… The truth is that the Rickards trials were politically motivated.

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - Brad Shipton - Leader of the pack

2007-0304 - NZ Herald - The players

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Do us a favour, mate

March 4 2007; "Loyalty of the wives"; Inside the mind of Rickards
Examples of why Clint Rickards is so damning of media coverage?

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Loyalty a virtue, but God help the wives

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Inside the mind of Rickards

March 4 2007; Louise Nicholas father falls ill “with stress”

"This whole thing has been tough for Dad," Louise says

2007-0304 - NZ Herald - Father falls ill 'with stress'

March 4 2007; Clint Rickards tells his story
Clint Rickards is interviewed by Miriyana Alexander of the Sunday Star Times. Clint Rickard:

·                describes his shame over his past behaviour - but says while he can be accused of being a "tomcat", he's no rapist. The most he is guilty of, he says, is infidelity

·                has bitter condemnation for Nicholas, saying if he ran into her now: "I would be physically sick. "Louise Nicholas had courted the media and sought sympathy for all those years... we were finally able to say to the jury hang on, there's another side to this, look what this woman has done.

·                says "the media were keeping the story alive to justify their ongoing attacks on him"

·                says he does not know why he was being judged so harshly by the public and said those without sin should cast the first stone. "How many juries does a man have to go through? How many times does a man have to be persecuted?"

·                He does not resile from his public support of Schollum and Shipton, whom he said were innocent and should not be in jail

·                He is damning of the Operation Austin police inquiry into the rape claims - one of the country's most expensive police investigations - saying it was a "shabby" investigation he would have been ashamed to lead. He says witnesses were coached, inconsistencies were overlooked, and that police were on a witch hunt to "get Clint Rickards"

·                He is equally damning of the media coverage of his case, describing it as gutter journalism. He said the media tried and convicted him before he even went to court. "The fact that they continued to publish defamatory, biased and in some cases totally incorrect information is a sad indictment on the integrity and objectivity of the media."

·                describes his sense of betrayal after his mentor and friend, former police commissioner Rob Robinson, sent deputy commissioner Steve Long to try to convince him to resign. Rickards said he was gobsmacked: "What happened to innocent until proven guilty?"

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Rickards: 'I did things I'm ashamed of'

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Rickards - the interview

2007-0304 - NZ Herald - 'My life has been destroyed'

March 4 2007; Louise Nicholas accused of vendetta

Greg Shipton

The family of jailed former cop Brad Shipton has accused Louise Nicholas of orchestrating a "revenge-at-all-costs" vendetta to punish the men, who testified against her in her first rape complaint against police. Brad Shipton's brother Greg, a former police officer of 16 years, says she was humiliated after her original rape complaint was thrown out. When allegations resurfaced in 2004, she "made a meal out of it" to hurt the men whose testimony had damaged her 1994 case.

Clint Rickards has nothing but contempt for Nicholas - "I've already said in court that she is a liar and I don't resile from that, she is evil and manipulative"  Nicholas has at various times accused seven police officers of sexual crimes against her - some have been tried, but none have been convicted. She has also admitted making a false rape complaint against a group of Maori youths

Louise Nicholas,
described as "a liar, evil and manipulative".
"Has a history of false rape complaints"

Louise Nicholas, meanwhile, remains defiant. "Why would I lie about this, why would I make this stuff up?" She says she is convinced more women will surface to support her claims and says her focus is on changing police culture and ensuring a better deal for rape victims

Clint Rickards responds to Nicholas' question. Rickards can't answer why - "I don't know what's inside her head" - but believes it was done for attention and revenge when she considers people wrong her. "It is also non-acceptance of responsibility on her part for her actions when she was young. She can't accept the way she was and blames everyone else as being responsible."

2007-0304 - NZ Herald - Sex accuser's 'vendetta'

2007-0304 - NZ Herald - 'Why would I lie about this, why would I make this up?'

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Rickards - the interview

March 3 2007; Comments by John Haigh on group sex scrutinised

John Haigh

When Mr Rickards was asked on Thursday if he thought group sex was an appropriate activity for a serving police officer, his lawyer, John Haigh, QC, interrupted, saying the question was irrelevant and "half of New Zealand has done it". Yesterday, Mr Haigh backed down from his comments made outside the court. He described them as a "throwaway remark" made when he was caught up in the emotional scenes after the verdict.

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - Group-sex rate overstated but growing

2007-0305 - Sensible Sentencing Trust - Group sex comments slur on legal fraternity

March 3 2007; Prime Minister reveals she knew of historical allegations against Rickards

Prime Minister, Helen Clark

Prime Minister Helen Clark has revealed she knew of the charges facing Clint Rickards before his appointment as Assistant Police Commissioner. Clark told reporters in Auckland she was aware of the historical charges against Rickards, and says he was not her preferred candidate for the job

2007-0303 - One News - Clark knew Rickards faced charges

2007-0303 - Newstalk ZB - Rickards not PM's preferred job candidate

March 3 2007; Costs of Operation Austin
The costs of
Operation Austin, the investigation into alleged misconduct by Rotorua police in the 1980s, is counted

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - $7m bill for trials and inquiries

March 3 2007; Rickards legal defence discussed
Defence lawyer John Haigh and Clint Rickards 

Defence lawyer John Haigh (left) and
Clint Rickards

Rickards had attempted to have a separate trial from Shipton and Schollum, in part because of concern he
could have been tainted by the convictions of Shipton and Schollum, which had become public knowledge. It was also felt that Rickards had a stronger defence: While Shipton and Schollum knew the complainant, Rickards said that he had never seen her in his life, and was prepared to face cross examination about this. Mr Rickards also had the defence that he was incapacitated after a knee operation for some of the period during which the alleged indecent assault with a whisky bottle took place.

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - Rickards' lawyer pushed for a separate trial

March 3 2007; Court of Appeal stopped two rape trials being heard together.
The two police rape trials of Clint Rickards, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum were to have been heard together but a Court of Appeal ruling said that despite the "remarkable" common features, a single trial would cause "illegitimate prejudice"…… Sorting out the legal directions for a single jury raised a real risk of confusion from a "bewildering array of directions", the Court of Appeal said

2007-0303 - Dominion Post - Court of Appeal stopped joint trial

2007-0303 - Dominion Post - 'Remarkable common features' in the cases

March 3-4 2007; Further debate over jury not being told of Shipton Schollum convictions
Louise Nicholas

Louise Nicholas.

Louise Nicholas said "it sucks" that juries were denied relevant information, such as convictions for similar offending. That denied juries the context to the evidence they were presented with and came with the risk that they were being blinkered.

Andrea Black, from Rape Crisis, has no doubt the trial, or an earlier one involving Louise Nicholas, would have turned out differently if the jury knew about the convictions. ( comment: News reports from March 2 provide evidence that the jury did know about the convictions. Refer Page 4)
Graeme Newell

Graeme Newell

However, the President of the Criminal Bar Association, Graeme Newell said lack of suppression orders could lead to miscarriages of justice. Someone's history should not be used against them, The Criminal Bar Association represents lawyers, judges and prosecutors who work in the criminal justice system.

The Prime Minister, Helen Clark commented: "I am absolutely appalled at what was going on and what we've seen reported in our media now the suppression order's been lifted". She said the cases may result in changes. "We need to reflect on what has happened and consider whether the law of evidence as it stands at the moment is appropriate."

The Sunday Star Times editorial  says there are now calls for the police records of defendants to be revealed in court, but that would be a bad step…. The old cliche about justice having to be seen to be done remains true. If a defendant's previous convictions are aired in court, outsiders as well as the accused might think he was convicted because of that fact.
Raybon Kan
Raybon Kan provides his opinion in the Sunday Star Times: Should the juries in this trial and the Louise Nicholas trial have been told? Well, of course not. Duh. What do you think juries would have made of it? Well, look at the public reaction. The size of headlines. This is precisely why it shouldn't have been told to the jury. …. ….I remember how I felt when I first received the Louise Nicholas pamphlet. Good grief (to put it mildly). I wanted to tell everyone. Talk about juicy. Two men on trial for rape - policemen at that - are already doing time for a separate rape! They must be guilty of this one too! ……… To state the plainly obvious, just because someone did something once, doesn't mean they did it on a separate occasion. I don't think anyone can disagree with this as a principle.

Kerre Woodham says each and every case must be tried on its merits, and if the evidence in one case is not sufficient to convict, then it would be very wrong to convict purely on the basis of an earlier trial. You can't be tried for the same crime twice, and allowing the records of criminals into court would, in effect, be doing that.

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - A lot of good will come out of this, says Louise Nicholas

2007-0303 - Radio NZ - Rape Crisis wants juries to know about previous convictions

2007-0303 - Dominion Post - Lawyers say system works

2007-0304 - Stuff - Evidence laws may need looking at - Clark

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - The trial's over, but the doubt goes on

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - Guilty verdicts

2007-0304 - NZ Herald - It's a case of 'she said, he said'

March 3 2007; New (non criminal) claims against Rickards may affect job negotiations

Clint Rickards

New allegations that Rickards had intercourse with a woman on the bonnet of a police car in 1983, is one of the "employment issues" being investigated by police. The car bonnet sex allegations could be used by the police to force Mr Rickards out

2007-0303 - Stuff - Rickards facing more damaging conduct claims

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - Rickards faces new claim of sex on bonnet of police car

March 3-4 2007; Further debate on whether Rickards should get job back
The NZ Herald editorial argues that Rickards should not get his job back: "The moral authority demanded of an assistant police commissioner has been shattered during these proceedings. In a way, his tirade outside the court, when he denounced the police investigation into the cases and defiantly proclaimed his continued friendship with Shipton and Schollum, despite their rape convictions, acknowledged as much, as well as exacerbating his alienation"

A former head of the Police Association, Rob Moodie, says Clint Rickards' return to work will depend on what proceedings, if any, the police commissioner is planning to take against him

The Sunday Star Times editorial says the legal principle - innocent till proven guilty - requires the police to employ Rickards again. The political principle - that those in powerful public roles must be above suspicion -means he cannot become the Auckland commander again

2007-0303 - NZ Herald - Rickards must not get job back

2007-0303 - Radio NZ - Rickards' return to work depends on commissioner - Moodie

2007-0304 - Sunday Star Times - The trial's over, but the doubt goes on