David Tamihere faces jail recall

By John Weekes of Herald on Sunday, Jared Savage of New Zealand Herald

David Tamihere says he is at peace with himself. Photo / APN
David Tamihere says he is at peace with himself. Photo / APN

TVNZ has slashed footage from the Sunday programme and issued apologies following fallout from convicted killer David Tamihere's flight over a crime scene.

Tamihere, 58, will face the Parole Board after the current affairs show flew him over an historic Coromandel murder scene, in a possible breach of his parole conditions. He could be sent back to jail.

TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said Corrections' demand Tamihere attend a recall hearing was a surprise to Sunday staff. "The Sunday programme didn't realise the flight... might be a breach of parole.''

Editors had made changes to the show, set for broadcast tonight. "We've dropped all the footage relating to the flight,'' Richards said.

She said the broadcaster had also apologised to both the Parole Board and Corrections - and added the flight would have never happened had Sunday known it could lead to Tamihere being recalled to jail.

A Corrections spokeswoman said discussions with TVNZ began on Tuesday or Wednesday and TVNZ was co-operating with enquiries.

Tamihere was jailed in 1990 for killing Swedish backpackers Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen. On his release in 2010, Tamihere maintained his innocence. He will appear in Waitakere District Court on Tuesday and is likely to face a special Parole Board recall hearing in late April.

He has recently proclaimed his innocence in a Metro magazine article.

His parole conditions state he cannot visit the region past Kopu and Whangamata without the written permission of his probation officer.

While he did not set foot on land - and only flew over the bush area - the Corrections Department has applied to the Parole Board to recall him to prison for breaching the special condition of his release.

The Parole Board declined to recall Tamihere to prison immediately, as he was not an "undue risk" to the public. But a special hearing will be held soon. "A recall hearing will be held towards the end of April, where the offender is required to attend in person, where the board will assess all aspects of the alleged breach," a Parole Board spokeswoman said.

Katrina Casey, general manager of the Corrections Department community probation services, said Tamihere had also been charged in court for breaching his parole conditions. He will appear in Waitakere District Court on Tuesday. Murray Gibson, Tamihere's lawyer, declined to comment.

Documents released by the Parole Board show Tamihere has made good progress since being released from prison in November 2010 and a number of parole conditions have been relaxed since then.

The Coromandel exclusion zone condition was amended last November so he could visit family land there if "accompanied at all times by approved whanau members", with the written permission of his probation officer. He must travel to and from the property by the most direct route.

In his first interview since being freed, published in Metro magazine this week, Tamihere said he wanted to "take my sons there and walk them through the case ... I want to show them it was impossible I did it."

Tamihere claims he was framed by the police and let down by the Court of Appeal and now wants a retrial so he can 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'."

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.

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 his conviction, Mr Hoglin's body 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 claim 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 convictions could stand

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

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 prison release.

Tamihere said 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."

- NZ Herald

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