30 Aug 2017

Secret witness changed story after prison threats

3:20 pm on 30 August 2017

A secret witness in one of the country's most well-known murder trials had to recant his evidence in order to survive in prison, says his lawyer.

Prison bars at Paremoremo

The witness was threatened and beaten by prison inmates after he gave evidence, the court has heard. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Witness C gave evidence at David Tamihere's trial in 1990 for the Crown, saying Mr Tamihere told him he had sexually molested Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Hoglin, killed them and dumped their bodies at sea.

He subsequently recanted his evidence and swore an affidavit.

Witness C is now on trial, charged with perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court has heard that Witness C was threatened and beaten for giving evidence. Inmates also threatened to hurt his parents.

Witness C has told the High Court he spent a lot of time with Mr Tamihere inside Paremoremo and the two worked out together.

He said he was disgusted when Mr Tamihere told him what he had done to two Swedish tourists.

Witness C said he approached a prison officer and later talked to a detective.

He confirmed he had initially asked for money so he could keep in touch with family and friends overseas, but the police made it clear there would be no inducements.

He said after the trial he was threatened and forced to call Mr Tamihere's lawyer to recant his evidence.