The man at the centre of the Christchurch creche sex case, Peter Ellis, has died while fighting to declare his innocence.

Ellis was released from prison in 2000, after serving seven years for abusing seven children at the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre in 1991.

The verdicts have always been contentious and in July, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case once more. The approved ground of appeal was whether a miscarriage of justice occurred.

His lawyer Rob Harrison said in a statement Ellis, who had bladder cancer, slipped away peacefully today surrounded by his loving family and dear friends Stephen and Pam Fergusson.


Ellis planned to be supported at the Supreme Court by a team of University of Otago staff who have done a vast amount of work on the appeal.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking last month, Ellis said the university had done a "wonderful job".

Mike Hosking talks exclusively to convicted child sex offender Peter Ellis before Supreme Court hearing. Audio / Newstalk ZB

"There have been people who have been working at the coal face for nearly 27 years," he said.

Peter Ellis hopes to clear name, and live to see results
Supreme Court to hear convicted child sex offender Peter Ellis' case as he fights to clear his name

Ellis twice appealed to the Court of Appeal, the second time after a referral by the Governor-General.

The first appeal quashed three of his convictions, but the second appeal against the remaining 13 convictions was dismissed in 1999.

After the second Court of Appeal decision there was a Ministerial Inquiry in 2001 by Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, which concluded there was no risk of a miscarriage of justice.

There have also been unsuccessful petitions to Parliament for a Royal Commission in 2003, 2008 and 2014.


Lynley Hood, who's 2001 book, A City Possessed, criticised the convictions as "a witch-hunt" and the result of mass hysteria, said she knew Ellis was terminally ill and time was running out quickly this week, but his death still came as a shock.

She said it was terribly sad Ellis did not survive to see his name cleared and hoped the case would still proceed.

"It's really important it be heard because it has been such a major concern for nearly 20 years.

"When you have such widespread public misgiving the justice system may have failed it undermines public confidence and if you can't have public confidence in the justice system we are all in trouble," Hood said.

Ellis' lawyer, Rob Harrison, said he wanted to talked with Peter's family and have a discussion with them before commenting publicly on future options for the case.