Dewar loses appeal in Louise Nicholas case

Former Rotorua CIB boss John Dewar has lost his appeal against conviction and sentence for his handling of historic sex allegations by Louise Nicholas.

The Appeal Court found Dewar's behaviour "struck at the very heart of the administration of justice".

Dewar was sentenced last October to 4-1/2 years in jail on four charges of attempting to obstruct or defeat the course of justice, after being found guilty in August by a jury in the High Court at Hamilton.

Trial judge Justice Rodney Hansen said that Dewar had a "remarkable capacity for self-delusion and avoidance which may have explained his conduct".

Dewar, 55, now a self-employed father of four of Hamilton, was chief inspector of the Rotorua CIB when Mrs Nicholas approached police in 1993 with two historic sex allegations, including those against former assistant commissioner Clint Rickards and former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum.

The three men were later found not guilty on those charges - although Shipton and Schollum were already serving jail terms for another rape.

The Crown said Dewar suppressed allegations Mrs Nicholas made against the three men and attempted to prevent the course of justice during the trial of another former policeman, who has permanent name suppression, by giving inadmissible evidence.

Dewar based his appeal principally on the grounds that a direction the trial judge gave to the jury prejudiced his chance of a fair trial and that the sentence imposed was "manifestly excessive".

Appeal Court judges Hammond, Ellen France and Baragwanath rejected the suggestion by defence counsel Bill Nabney that in his summing-up Justice Hansen characterised ambiguous conduct as potential lies.

"There was no blurring of the kind suggested by Mr Nabney and the directions given were entirely appropriate," they said in their ruling.

They also rejected the suggestion that failure of the prosecutor to cross-examine Dewar when he gave evidence on the testimony of three prosecution witnesses created an unfairness amounting to a miscarriage of justice.

Crown prosecutor Brent Stanaway told the court that Dewar's evidence-in-chief dealt with the witness' evidence "in an emphatic and final way, which would not have permitted effective cross-examination".

The judges said Dewar's suggestion had no merit.

As for Dewar's concurrent sentence of 4-1/2 years, the judges found that the sentencing judge had weighed all the appropriate factors and the sentence was "well inside an appropriate range".

"There was exploitation of Mrs Nicholas' vulnerability for Mr Dewar's own ends," they said.

"And, of the greatest moment, this offending struck at the very heart of the administration of justice."

- NZPA

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