23 Jun 2016

Mr Big approach 'unlikely to work again'

8:18 am on 23 June 2016

Exposing a police undercover operation that caught a murderer has undermined their ability to do the same thing again, says the Police Association.

Kamal Reddy at the High Court in Auckland

Kamal Reddy Photo: TVNZ / One News / Screengrab

The 'Mr Big' operation was used to convict Kamal Reddy of the murder of his ex-girlfriend and her three-year-old daughter in 2006.

Reddy was yesterday sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of 21 years.

His trial heard how he confessed to undercover officers posing as members of a criminal gang during the operation, known as a 'Mr Big' scheme.

Police argued details of the operation should have been kept secret, but Justice Asher ruled it could now be reported.

Such operations have attracted controversy and accusations of entrapment in Canada and Australia, and the technique is not used in the United States or the United Kingdom.

But Police Association head Greg O'Connor said Mr Big-style operations were needed.

"There will be another Mr Reddy out there who will now be aware, informed, and a similar approach is unlikely to work."

However, a law professor said the public had a right to know about the undercover tactics the police used to catch the murderer.

Andrew Geddis from Otago University told Morning Report the decision to reveal details of the operation was the right one.

"In Canada and Australia, where they use this method, it is widely talked about, and yet the police are still able to successfully use it. So the idea that just by talking about it, people will know so it can't work, just seems belied by the facts of other countries."

Prof Geddis said the people targeted with these tactics did not usually follow the news and were isolated, which was why the techniques worked.

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