Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Tamihere: Try me for murder again

David Tamihere denies meeting the Swedish tourists he was convicted of killing, although he admits stealing their car and driving others around in it. Photo / Sarah Ivey
David Tamihere denies meeting the Swedish tourists he was convicted of killing, although he admits stealing their car and driving others around in it. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Convicted double murderer David Tamihere has asked to go on trial again for the murder of two Swedish backpackers after having served 20 years in prison.

Tamihere, 58, was released in late 2010 after serving his time for the murder of Urban Hoglin, 23, and Heidi Paakkonen, 21. Ms Paakkonen's body has not been found.

In his first interview since being freed, published in Metro magazine, Tamihere claims he was framed by the police and let down by the Court of Appeal.

He reveals that he wants compensation but the real reason he wants a retrial is for the right to be heard.

"When you go through the paperwork you think, 'How the hell did they get away with this?' Then when you look at it more, you think, 'You dirty sons of bitches'."

Now living in West Auckland with his partner of nearly 40 years, Tamihere is on a sickness benefit with lung problems and had a heart triple bypass six weeks after his release from prison.

His distinctive Zapata moustache is grey, and Metro reported he didn't know how to use mobile phones or ATM machines when he was released from prison.

Tamihere will soon become a grandfather and spends time carving in his "man cave" workshop, which he says is therapeutic.

"The only thing with carving is you can't make a mistake. You can't carve wood back on. A bit like life," he told Metro.

When Tamihere was arrested in 1989 he had been living in the Coromandel bush for 2 years, on the run after jumping bail while awaiting trial for the rape of a 62-year-old woman.

After Interpol alerted police to the disappearance of the Swedish tourists Tamihere was eventually charged with their murder.

He had previously served time for the manslaughter of a stripper he says he accidentally hit in the head with a rifle.

Today, Tamihere says he is at peace with himself, but sorry for many things - although not for the murder of Mr Hoglin and Ms Paakkonen.

"I had nothing to do with this. But I can understand how upset [the victims' families] feel."

Tamihere was convicted of the murders on circumstantial evidence and at the time of his trial no bodies had been found.

He denied meeting the tourists, although he admitted stealing their car and driving others around in it.

The Crown called on two trampers who said they saw a man putting up a tent in the company of a blonde woman, although initially they could not identify Tamihere from a collection of photos.

"I'd like to kick their balls up through their kidneys," says Tamihere of the men.

After Tamihere's conviction, the body of Mr Hoglin was discovered by pig-hunters in bush 73km from where police said the murders took place.

Mr Hoglin's watch was still on his wrist, contradicting the prosecution's assertion that Tamihere had stolen it and given it to his son.

Tamihere took his case to the Court of Appeal in 1992, but it ruled his conviction could stand, despite the jury having heard evidence that had since been proven to be wrong.

"Jesus Christ could have stood up at the Court of Appeal and said, 'Look, this guy didn't do it'," Tamihere told the magazine.

Later, one of the witnesses who claimed Tamihere had admitted the murders while in prison declared he was bribed by police to give false evidence.

Tamihere says that Detective Inspector John Hughes, who has since died, was nicknamed "The Gardener" by prisoners. "He had a bad habit of planting things ... he was well known for fitting people up, eh."

- NZ Herald

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