MARCH 1971:

Thomas is convicted of the double-murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe in June 1970. Supporters rally behind him in what became an eight-year battle to win his freedom.

MAY 1971: The Court of Appeal rejects Thomas' appeal.

FEBRUARY 1972: An inquiry by retired judge Sir George McGregor finds no reason to re-open the case.

Advertisement

JUNE 1972: After strong public criticism the Government refers the case back to the Court of Appeal, which orders a retrial.

MARCH 1973: Despite new evidence from the defence throwing more doubt on the police case - including the vital discovery of the shellcase in the garden - Thomas is again found guilty.

JULY 1973: The Court of Appeal dismisses Thomas' second appeal.

SEPTEMBER 1973: Scientist Dr Jim Sprott and journalist Pat Booth protest Thomas' innocence, based on the last-minute evidence at the second trial which showed that the shellcase found in the garden did not match the bullets which killed the Crewes.

FEBRUARY 1975: The Court of Appeal rejects the new evidence and upholds the conviction.

OCTOBER 1978: The tide finally turns, with the publication of Beyond Reasonable Doubt? by British author David Yallop, a scathing attack on the way the New Zealand Police and courts had handled the case. It includes an open letter to Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, asking for a pardon.

25 OCTOBER 1978: Muldoon orders Auckland QC Robert Adams-Smith to investigate. The second of his two reports concludes that "an injustice may have been done".

DECEMBER 1979: Thomas receives a free pardon.

NOVEMBER 1980: A Royal Commission concludes that police planted a shellcase in the Crewe's garden to frame the innocent Thomas for the murder. It describes the police action as "an unspeakable outrage".