Peter Ellis trial: First day focuses on child's evidence
Day one of the historic Peter Ellis appeal at the Supreme Court in Wellington focused mainly on the reliability of a child's evidence.Ellis died in 2019 and it's the first time in New Zealand the convictions of a dead person have been appealed.The Christchurch childcare worker, who was jailed on 16 child sex abuse convictions in 1993, was granted the appeal before his death in September 2019 - looking at whether there was miscarriage of justice in a 1999 appeal against 13 of his convictions.Jake McKee reports.
Vita Molyneux: Crown and lawyers debate reliability of witness testimony of Peter Ellis appeal
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
Warning: This article discusses graphic depictions of sexual assault.The posthumous appeal of convicted sex offender Peter Ellis is under way in the Supreme Court, focusing on how evidence was collected from the child complainants and whether it was reliable for conviction.Ellis was convicted of 16 counts of child sex abuse in 1993.This is his third appeal – the first led to one complainant withdrawing her testimony and three of Ellis' 16 counts of child sex abuse being overturned.His second was dismissed by the court. He was granted leave for his third in 2019, but died months later after a battle with bladder cancer.Ellis contended through his life he was innocent and the victim of a miscarriage of justice.On Monday, his lawyer Rob Harrison told the court the appeal is hinged on a number of factors – firstly the risk of the children's testimony being contaminated.He says the risk of contamination was underestimated, due to the lack of scientific knowledge about interviewing children in the 90s.He says improper techniques were used to get information from the young children, and when the case did reach court in 1993 the jury were not "appropriately assisted by expert testimony"."The jury could not decipher the information in the right way to reach a fair decision."Harrison also says the children's interviews, upon which Ellis' conviction was hinged, were contaminated by a multitude of factors."Parent to parent conversation, child-parent conversations, official meetings, children overhearing conversations, booklet construction, scene reconstruction, therapy books and television."Harrison says all of these factors could affect the recollection of children, or cause them to change their answers based on what they were overhearing or being told.Professor Harlene Hayne, an expert on memory development and child interview techniques, told the court children are particularly susceptible to influence if there is a delay between the traumatic event and their questioning.She says usually in events like this the delay between the event and the interview is short and children are interviewed with open ending questions – but this did not occur in the Ellis case."When mothers are misled about an event their children took part in, for which they were not present, they ask leading questions of their children who will subsequently embellish their report."Hayne continued on to say there have been instances where children who were involved in traumatic events like school shootings will report events as though they were there when they weren't if they had conversed with friends or parents."Asking children too many of the wrong questions, providing them with the wrong materials can convince them something occurred when it did not."But the Crown denies the alleged contamination had an effect, saying it would be unrealistic to expect parents to keep their children in a legally sterile environment given the gravity of the accusations.John Billington QC says the considerable concern of contamination upon which the appeal hinges are "unreal"."As this case unfolds you will see considerable concern of contamination which includes the parents speaking to their children during the process, that children underwent therapy, or had access to books about child sex abuse to keep themselves safe. In an ideal contrived situation, one might keep those children sequestered but the sort of complaints being made about contamination are unreal, these are little children whose parents love them and need to support them."It is unreal to suggest that conduct between child and parent contaminates evidence enough to disregard it entirely."Professor Gail S Goodman, a distinguished professor of psychology, asked the court to participate in a thought experiment.Professor Gail S Goodman appears via audiovisual link. Photo / Jericho Rock-Archer"If I gave you a list of words – say, cake, dessert, sugar, chocolate and then later asked you to reme...
New Zealand legal history is about to be made today when the Supreme Court considers Peter Ellis's appeal against charges of sexual offending. The appeal continues despite the fact that the former Christchurch Civic Creche worker died in 2019.The court accepted what was a novel legal argument for the case to continue based on the idea of tikanga - that both Māori and Pākehā have mana in death and if an appeal like this is successful, it would affect the late Ellis's mana and that of his whānau.Retired law professor Bill Hodge is one of those who will be following the case closely. He spoke to Corin Dann.
Episode 38 - Peter Ellis: Devil-worshipping pedophile, or victim of a botched investigation?
Bad Apple: A True Crime Podcast
In the 1980s, the Satanic Panic was rife in the United States, with authorities receiving more than 12,000 claims of satanic abuse within an alleged network of underground devil-worshipping paedophiles operating in daycare centres. By 1991, this panic had reached Christchurch, New Zealand. Child care worker, Peter Ellis, was accused of sexually assaulting a young boy in his care. The investigation of these claims has been plagued with criticisms about parental interference, an unreliable interview process, and fabricated compensation claims. Peter has always maintained his innocence, and 30 years on his case continues.
The role of Yq-linked genes in fertility and offspring sex ratio with Dr Peter Ellis
The Genomics Lab
We're back after the Easter Break with an extremely interesting episode with Dr Peter Ellis from the School of Biosciences at the University of Kent! Dr.Ellis is a Lecturer in Molecular Genetics and Reproduction at the University of Kent. His research thus far has involved the identification of novel genes on the mouse Y chromosome that affect sperm head shape and fertility; the discovery of a genomic conflict between the mice sex chromosomes as they compete to influence offspring sex ratio. Also the identification of mechanisms regulating meiotic and post-meiotic transcriptional silencing of the sex chromosomes. His lab investigates the molecular biology of reproduction, the conflicting roles played by sex-linked genes in regulating this process, and the relationship between DNA damage repair mechanisms and the checkpoints governing meiotic progression. Find Peters profile here where you can access his publications Connect with Peter on twitter here
Steve Bonnar QC: Criminal lawyer says latest complainant against Peter Ellis is unfair
The Mike Hosking Breakfast
A criminal lawyer says using new evidence against Peter Ellis after he's dead could be unfair.Lawyers for the convicted sex offender were granted leave in September to continue his legal battle to clear his name, a year after his death.However, the case has been complicated by a new complainant coming forward.Criminal lawyer Steve Bonnar QC told Mike Hosking Ellis and his team were never made aware of it before he died."Peter Ellis was never given any chance to talk to his team about it, which is rather unfair."Mr Bonnar says the court will be looking at whether the evidence is fresh, whether it's credible, and whether it's crucial.He says it will also think about whether it could've affected the verdict, if the jury had known about it at the time of the trial.LISTEN ABOVE
Melissa Nightingale: New complainant comes forward in Peter Ellis appeal
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
A new complainant has come forward in the Peter Ellis child sex offending case, decades on from his original convictions.The Crown is battling in the Supreme Court to introduce the complainant's claims as new evidence to assist them in fighting Ellis' appeal against his convictions.Ellis died last year at the age of 61, but the Supreme Court has granted leave for his appeal to continue despite his death.He was convicted after a trial in the High Court at Christchurch in 1993 of 16 counts of sexual offending.Ellis was released from prison in 2000, after serving seven years for abusing seven children at the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre in 1991.In his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Ellis said the complainant interviews fell far short of best practice - even at the time of the alleged offending - and there was a strong possibility of contamination of the evidence.He also argued the jury was not appropriately assisted at the trial by the expert witnesses.The case came to the Supreme Court last year for arguments on whether an appeal should be allowed to go ahead now that Ellis was dead, but the matter was adjourned to June this year so submissions could also be made on whether tikanga should be taken into account.Lawyers for Ellis argued his mana continued after his death and therefore it was still important to appeal the case.The matter was back before the Supreme Court this morning, where Ellis' lawyers argued information about the new complainant should be suppressed.Little has been said in court today about the new evidence, but that is expected to be argued throughout the morning.Lawyers for the Crown said the new evidence should not be suppressed as there was nothing in the Criminal Procedure Act which supported suppression.She said Ellis would not be tried on the new allegations and therefore there was no risk of prejudice to fair trial rights.But Ellis' lawyers said to publish information on the allegations before the court had even decided whether the new evidence could be used would cause undue hardship to Ellis' family and his mana."If this is a created memory and it is presented to the court as propensity evidence and it is in fact a fabrication or a created memory then to publish that as being valid I think causes further harm to the mana of Mr Ellis and also to his family," his lawyer, Robert Harrison said.The judges decided to allow the information to be published, but suppressed any details which could lead to the identification of the new complainant or her family.There is also evidence from the new complainant's sister which is said to corroborate her claims, said Crown lawyer John Billington QC.He said the complainant approached police in February last year and the matter was not sent to the Crown until September - the same month Ellis died. He was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations before his death.Harrison said the complainant was said to have gone to a police station in 1992 or 1993 to complain but the matter did not go any further until she again approached police this year.He pointed to several issues with this, including that Peter Ellis' name was known across New Zealand by that point in the 90s due to the accusations."I cannot believe that a complainant would have walked into a police station in 1992 and 1993 and complained about Peter Ellis sexually abusing them, and nothing happening."He said the woman would have been the wrong age to have been abused by Ellis while he worked at the Civic Creche, and he said no other kindergarten had come forward to police at the time suggesting Ellis had committed offences there.The Supreme Court have now adjourned the matter so police can do a full investigation into the new claim.The controversyEllis has always maintained his innocence and the verdicts in his trial have remained contentious - they have been described as being the result of mass hysteria in the book A City Possessed by...
Nigel Hampton: Peter Ellis' posthumous appeal could be groundbreaking
Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive
Peter Ellis' former lawyer says his appeal could be ground-breaking.Almost a year since Ellis died, the Supreme Court has ruled his appeal can go ahead.Ellis was convicted on 16 charges of sexual offending against seven children in 1993.Nigel Hampton QC told Heather Du Plessis-Allan the appeal was probably issued not just because of tikanga Maori - to restore mana after death.He says Parliament gave pardons in 2000 to soldiers shot because of cowardice in World War one."Part of the reason for passing that legislation was the fact that this was a continuing slur on the reputation and mana of the particular families, so it is not just a Maori concept."Hampton says the irony is that Ellis had to die to possibly win a case and set a precedent.While alive, Ellis appealed twice to the Court of Appeal, the second time after a referral by the Governor-General.The first appeal quashed three of his convictions.The second appeal against the remaining 13 convictions was dismissed in 1999.Ellis was granted leave to appeal those remaining convictions in July last year, but died in September.The Supreme Court says the reasons for this decision will be provided at the same time as the decision is released on the substantive appeal.