'Poor dad got bad publicity'


The ex-policeman who accused a former traffic officer of burying the body of Mona Blades beneath a Kawerau property, prompting a new search, had told police the same man was linked to another infamous New Zealand cold case.

Further details of Tony Moller's allegations, which led police on a fruitless search for the long-missing body of Miss Blades beneath the former home of former traffic cop Derrick Hinton in early January, have been revealed on a website created by Mr Hinton's daughter, Pauline Barratt, as an attempt to debunk the theories.

Ms Barratt, an Auckland lawyer, has also threatened Mr Moller, who served as a sergeant in Kawerau for 10 years, with legal action if he does not formally apologise to her family.

Email correspondence between Mr Moller, police and others released under the Official Information Act showed Mr Moller also accused Mr Hinton, now dead, in the unsolved murder of 13-year-old Tracey Ann Patient, whose body was found in the bush of the Waitakere Ranges in January 1976.

It remains among the country's most high-profile cold cases, alongside the disappearance of 18-year-old Mona Blades, last seen getting into an orange Datsun 120Y station wagon on the Napier-Taupo Rd on May 31, 1975.

The emails also included allegations that, in the mid-1970s, Mr Hinton was seen with another man in a green Swandri dumping a "large black polythene article" described as "big enough to have been a body" into a hole on Mr Hinton's property, near where a concrete mixer was operating.

The email to Bay of Plenty field crime manager Detective Inspector Mark Loper also claimed that about the same time, Mr Hinton had taken several bags of cement from another Kawerau man's garage without asking.

Other emails to Mr Loper alleged that Mr Hinton had grabbed another woman by the throat, and had told another person he could "make people disappear".

Mr Loper met Mr Moller late last year and agreed that if nothing was found beneath Mr Hinton's old home, police would not take the matter further.

On the morning of January 26, Mr Moller and police watched as excavators drilled 80cm into the floor of the laundry and then probed another 80cm without finding anything of interest to the case.

Mr Loper yesterday said that although police had closed their inquiries into Mr Moller's claims, the Blades case remained open and would continue to be assessed.

Ms Barratt said the allegations had been distressing to her family. Setting up the website was their way of clearing Mr Hinton's reputation.

"My poor dad got an awful lot of adverse publicity over something he didn't do and deserved to be able to have a forum putting his side of it," she said.

Mr Moller refused to comment, saying only Ms Barratt "doesn't know all the facts".

MISSING

Mona Blades

The 18-year-old was last seen getting into an orange Datsun 120Y station wagon on the Napier-Taupo Rd on May 31, 1975.

Tracey Ann Patient

13 years old. Her body was found in the bush of the Waitakere Ranges in January 1976.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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