Good news sinks in for Haig after 10 years in jail

By Jarrod Booker

Rex Haig could scarcely believe his long battle was finally over yesterday.

"It's been a really exhausting and depressing 12 years of it. And it won't sink in for two or three days, I think, that it really is the finish of it."

Mr Haig served 10 years in prison for the murder of Mark Roderique, who disappeared while on a fishing trip off Westland on his boat Antares in 1994. Mr Haig always maintained his innocence and claimed it was another crew member, his nephew David Hogan, who was responsible.

He wrote thousands of letters from his prison cell in an effort to clear his name and even held prison officers hostage and threatened to blow them up with fake explosives to try to get his case reviewed.

Yesterday he said it was an amazing feeling to see the email come through confirming the Appeal Court had quashed the murder conviction and there would be no retrial.

"It was really what my common sense told me ... that that's what the decision would be. But for some reason or other, just recently, I felt sort of negative about it, and that may not be what happens.

"I have not lost faith in men. That's perhaps because I'm a Christian now and I know there is a good side and bad side to people." Mr Haig feels no bitterness towards the judiciary that imprisoned him.

"I have had, really, a pretty good deal in a lot of ways from the judiciary. Because they tried to give me a fair go right through. So there's been a lot of pluses ... I don't really want to talk about the minuses today. There's been plenty of minuses."

The quashing of his conviction would be a great relief for his family, who had been dragged with him through the whole ordeal. He now looked forward to being free to visit his two children living in Australia.

"They will be really pleased it's all finished. It's been a lot of stress on them as well. And it's largely the reason why they went to Australia and lived there for years - it was mainly because of the media attention on me when I was arrested and the trial.

"My son lives on the Queensland border. I might be able to lie on the beach and soak up some sun with him sometime."

Mr Haig refused to speculate on any bid for compensation from the Government yesterday, saying it was in the hands of his lawyer, Jonathan Eaton.

He said it was out of his control whether police now pursued Mr Hogan for the murder of Mr Roderique. "I wished he had never been part of my life. I offered him a job on my boat when his parents wanted me to hire him, and it was a bad mistake. My life has been a disaster ever since I had anything to do with him."

David Hogan could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mr Roderique's father Tom could not be contacted last night.

But he has previously said that he believed Mr Haig shared responsibility for the murder of his son with another man.

He said that long after Mr Haig's murder trial, another Antares crewman, Tony Sewell, who has since died, visited him.

"The other guy, Sewell, he told me ... he thought that Mark was still alive when they actually put him over the side. I think ... Haig was the main offender, but ... it took them both to put him over the side."

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