21 Apr 2018

Jailhouse informant keeps name suppression - for now

11:36 am on 21 April 2018

The identity of a jail house informant who gave false evidence in a high-profile murder case cannot be made public yet - even though he is no longer seeking name suppression.

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland Photo: justice.govt.nz

The man, known only as Witness C, was given permanent name suppression in 1990 during the trial of David Tamihere for the murders of Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen.

Last year, 'jailhouse lawyer' Arthur Taylor successfully prosecuted Witness C for eight counts of perjury after proving he had lied.

Justice Christian Whata lifted the name suppression, which had been in place for nearly 30 years, but allowed an interim suppression order pending an appeal.

However, that appeal was dropped last weekend, which meant ordinarily name suppression would also lapse.

But this was opposed by Taylor, despite the fact he had gone to the Court of Appeal asking for name suppression to be lifted.

Taylor's counsel, Richard Francois, asked the High Court judge to wait for the Court of Appeal decision, which "may address matters of considerable importance as it relates to name suppression of informers".

In a judgement released Friday afternoon, Justice Whata said he found Mr Francois' submission "somewhat perplexing".

"Logically, his appeal is now also redundant, but Mr Francois submits I should await the Court of Appeal decision. Yet to do nothing would simply abdicate my duty to respond to a request for clarification properly made by Ms Goatley [lawyer for the media]."

In order to "resolve the impasse", he said he was accepting a suggestion by Witness C's lawyer, Adam Simperingham, to wait for Mr Francois and/or other parties to seek direction from the Court of Appeal as to the status of Mr Taylor's appeal.

"However, the present lack of clarity must be remedied as soon as possible."

He directed that a further telephone conference be convened on Thursday or Friday next week.

Taylor has gone to the High Court asking for identity suppression of a second witness in the Tamihere case to be lifted.

He alleges all three secret Crown witnesses are guilty of lying at Tamihere's trial and were offered inducements by the police to testify.

Witness B's identity will be made public on 1 May, unless the Crown can present legal arguments to oppose it.

The Swedes' disappearance sparked the largest land-based search ever undertaken in New Zealand.

Mr Hoglin's remains were discovered in 1991 by hunters in bush near Whangamata, about 70km from where the murders were alleged to have taken place.

Ms Paakkonen's remains have never been found.

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