They have hurt people in the most awful ways. Crimes include murder and rape, while others have broken promises of fidelity.

Yet the women who love them have stuck by their side. Why? Cherie Howie and Carolyne Meng-Yee investigate.

She's there every day, and usually the only person sitting in the public gallery.

Immaculately dressed, poised, her lips forming a small smile as he enters the dock, flanked by a security guard, and glances back towards her.

As she watches lawyers argue whether or not the man she loves tried to covertly record people in a unisex bathroom, she rarely stirs.

If she feels any disgust at the allegations against her partner, former Assistant Chief of Navy Alfred "Fred" Keating, she doesn't show it.

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When Judge Robert Ronayne calls the lunch break, the couple regularly leave Auckland District Court, hand-in-hand, to stroll in the sunshine at nearby St Patrick's Square.

He's accused of hiding a camera in a bathroom at the New Zealand embassy in Washington DC , where he was the senior defence attache to the US.

Alfred Keating and his partner, pictured during his trial. Photo / Doug Sherring
Alfred Keating and his partner, pictured during his trial. Photo / Doug Sherring
Keating in the dock of the Auckland District Court. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Keating in the dock of the Auckland District Court. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

As the forewoman from the jury of 12 strangers announced the guilty verdict last month , she watched silently as Keating slumped and then looked back at her. They left court hand-in-hand.

She's also not alone in standing by her man, despite serious charges against him.

From the most powerful man in the world to those who hold almost no power, from sports stars to TV stars, from businessmen to professors, politicians and policemen - many have fallen foul of either the promise of fidelity or the law. In some cases both and seriously, with convictions imposed for rape or murder.

And from the outside, it can seem unfathomable.

There is no known research in New Zealand on how many women stay with their partners after committing a crime, and whether the figure is higher than the men who stay.

But the number of men who offend is much higher. Last year, 78 per cent of adults convicted in court were men.

There's also countless research on women who stay with men who abuse them.

Longtime Hamilton defence lawyer Roger Laybourn "conservatively" puts the number of women who make a complaint of family violence, and then return to the relationship, at one in 10.

"It's a common pattern that judges, lawyers and police see ... some are genuine forgiveness, others are battered women's syndrome where they can't see a way out."

John Barlow, a former Karori businessman who was convicted in 1995 for the murders of father-and-son mortgage brokers Gene and Eugene Thomas a year earlier. Photo / File
John Barlow, a former Karori businessman who was convicted in 1995 for the murders of father-and-son mortgage brokers Gene and Eugene Thomas a year earlier. Photo / File
A

ngela Barlow's reason for staying with her husband, a convicted double murderer, is simple - he didn't do it.

"If he had done it I don't know whether I would have or bothered," she tells the Weekend Herald.

"Why would you stay married to somebody who had killed two people?"

But in the eyes of the law, John Barlow is guilty.

Father and son financiers Eugene and Gene Thomas were gunned down in their Wellington office in 1994. Barlow — at a third trial called after two hung juries — was found guilty of their execution-style killings the following year and sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 14 years. He was paroled in 2010.

His wife, now 72, stood by her husband through the three trials and his 15-year prison term.

On the phone from the Pukerua Bay home they share, she laughs when she's asked if she loves her husband as much as when she first met him.

"That's a strange question," she says, before delivering an emphatic: "Yes".

"Otherwise we wouldn't be enjoying life together."

Angela Barlow, pictured with daughter Keryn Barlow in 2010, has always believed her husband John Barlow's claims of innocence in the double murder he was convicted of. Photo / File
Angela Barlow, pictured with daughter Keryn Barlow in 2010, has always believed her husband John Barlow's claims of innocence in the double murder he was convicted of. Photo / File

Enjoying life together means time with the grandchildren, catch-ups with friends who stood by them and, for John, an antique valuer at the time of the murders, going back to "collecting antiques and things", she says.

"He likes that sort of thing."

And it means continuing to believe her husband's claims of innocence. She says she never doubted him, so much so, she never directly asked him if he killed the pair.

"Because I knew he hadn't. I knew he hadn't because the circumstances weren't right ... he never had any animosity towards them either. Nothing added up as far as I was concerned, and the rest of the family, nobody ever had any doubts.

"I haven't got blind faith, I have got my eyes wide open. I know actually all the technical details from the case because I've read all the transcripts."

She's read all the evidence, and believes other evidence that should have been put forward wasn't. Other evidence was "skewed".

"For some women there will be denial that the offence ever occurred," says Dr Neville Robertson, a community psychologist and former Waikato University senior lecturer in psychology.

For others, whether their partner or husband is guilty of infidelity or criminality, the reasons for staying can range from financial to faith to fear, and many more.

As varied are the reasons people start a relationship, as varied can be as the reasons some women stay in relationships, despite odious crimes or heartbreaking betrayal.

A supportive wife or partner in the court room supporting her husband can be helpful, such as in less emotional cases involving crimes such as dishonesty or fraud, Laybourn says.

"It's giving the impression that 'I'm the major victim here'... the loyal wife ... and I've forgiven him. I don't think you can discount they have some influence, and there's nothing wrong with that.

"If it helps the jury form a more informed view of the person, I'm all for it."

While lawyers can't directly point out spouses and partners sitting loyally in the public gallery, there were techniques they used to make the jury aware.

"It becomes pretty obvious by little waves, little smiles. And you don't have to be too clever [as a lawyer] to make it known. You could be talking to them intently and be 'startled' by the jury coming in, or you might give a sympathetic frown as some of the evidence is given.

"There's all sorts of theatrical tricks."

And, after all, both sides do it, Laybourn, a 40-year veteran of our courtrooms, says.

"What prosecutors do, if they have a big gang trial, is they wheel in some big, serious looking cops. They do it to say 'we are taking this seriously'. So senior officers, not witnesses or officers in charge [of the case], will come and sit in the gallery.

"Everyone plays the game."

But there might be times lawyers advise their client's partner not to attend court. Sex offending can be particularly risky.

"You've got to make a judgment on the particular case and the evidence of the case. Scenarios where dad is accused of molesting daughter, and mum doesn't believe daughter. She [mother] sits there in court. I'm not convinced that helps."

Judy Capill, pictured in the early 2000s. She stood by husband Graham Capill after he admitted sex crimes against children, but now says they're separated. Photo / File
Judy Capill, pictured in the early 2000s. She stood by husband Graham Capill after he admitted sex crimes against children, but now says they're separated. Photo / File

Judy Capill supported her husband, former Christian Heritage Party leader Graham Capill after the then-46-year-old admitted raping a girl under 12, indecent assault and unlawful sexual connection.

The self-anointed moral watchdog who had publicly decried paedophiles, homosexuals and preached about family values, was sentenced to nine years' jail and spent six years behind bars before he was paroled in 2011.

Judy Capill, who was in court when her husband was sentenced, has said she forgave the father of 10, something that, because of her faith, she had no other choice to do.

She told the Weekend Herald she did not want to talk further about her decision.

"You have no idea how much hurt it causes the victims when they see his name in print. I just don't want to hurt them any more."

She later called back to say the pair had been separated for 14 years.

Convicted paedophile Graham Capill during his sentencing in the Christchurch District Court. Photo / Simon Baker
Convicted paedophile Graham Capill during his sentencing in the Christchurch District Court. Photo / Simon Baker

Property records show the couple own two properties in Christchurch, one of which is home to a car rental business which Judy Capill says they own together "at the moment".

"We haven't lived together since 2005."

Meanwhile Tanith Butler was pregnant when her fiance Brad Callaghan was charged with the murder of a his former partner in 2010, days before Butler and Callaghan's son was born.

The 33-year-old had bashed Carmen Thomas to death with their 5-year-old son's baseball bat, before dismembering and disposing of her concrete-encased body in the Waitākere Ranges. He later admitted to the crimes.

Tanith Butler, pictured in 2010 outside the Remuera home she had shared with partner Brad Callaghan before he was convicted of killing his ex. Photo / Doug Sherring
Tanith Butler, pictured in 2010 outside the Remuera home she had shared with partner Brad Callaghan before he was convicted of killing his ex. Photo / Doug Sherring

But Butler stood by Callaghan - her support for the killer was acknowledged by Justice Geoffrey Venning when, in March 2012, he sentenced Callaghan to life and told him he must spend at least 13 years and eight months behind bars.

Butler was also reported at the time to have visited Callaghan in Mt Eden Prison. Butler could not be contacted for comment.

Other women reported to have stuck with their partners or husbands after the most repugnant of crimes include New Zealand Fashion Week founder Dame Pieter Stewart, who was a staunch supporter of her husband Peter Stewart — son of revered plastics and electrical industrialist, the late Sir Robertson Stewart — who spent just over a year in jail after being found guilty of sexually molesting a girl when she was aged under 12, and raping and sodomising her after she turned 13.

Stewart maintained his innocence throughout the trial, but admitted consensual sex with the victim once when she was 17.

The wife of Kiwi actor Rene Naufahu showed her support when she was baptised alongside him and their children after the Shortland Street< alum was accused of numerous sex crimes during acting classes. Naufahu later admitted indecently assaulting six women and served a year of home detention.

He confirmed to the Weekend Herald last month he was still with his wife.

South Auckland woman Rebecca Giles supported her former police officer husband, Gavin Giles , in court , after he admitted to indecent communication with a person aged under 16.

Giles, then 46, had in 2017 exchanged indecent photos with a 13-year-old Texas girl and is serving an eight-month home detention sentence.

Rebecca Giles was at the family home when the Weekend Herald visited last month.

To question how anyone can love someone who has hurt others, Robertson is clear that emotional connection isn't necessarily the main driver of the relationship.

"There are reasons why people are in relationships, and the fact that someone does something criminal, it doesn't necessarily disinvent those reasons ... for example, someone might think it's important [to stay together] for the children."

Other reasons might be fear of poverty, especially for women, as men traditionally earned more.

People are not one dimensional, Robertson says.

"It's not as if guys who have offended are uni-dimensional. They're multi-faceted."

There may be promises of change made, and they shouldn't necessarily be sneered at — plenty of former inmates have turned their lives around after making such vows, he says.

"Who's to say that all of these [promises] are shallow and meaningless?"

But it's hard to know if staying in the relationship after one half commits serious crimes is a uniquely female response. Or the exact reason some people choose to stay.

"There are always a number of factors. That's one of the problems with a lot of research ... it focuses on one factor. But it's decontextualised, it ignores a lot of other things.

"I don't know about you, but there's not much that's singular about what drives my behaviour. There are always a myriad of reasons."

For the slight, silent woman sitting in the public gallery every day for two weeks as her partner unsuccessfully fought an embarrassing and career-ending charge last month, the reasons remain unknown.

Neither she nor Keating spoke as they left court after his conviction.

But she'll have a chance to show her loyalty again. the former Navy man will be back in court later this year, where he could face an 18-month jail sentence.

Will she be back? There's every chance - as Keating faced the cameras and the questions of media outside court after the verdict, she turned her left hand upwards, towards his own.

He grasped it and, together, they walked away.

An emotional betrayal

They haven't broken the law, and the only court they'll appear in is that of public opinion.

They're the men who have committed a devastating emotional betrayal but whose wives and partners have stayed at their side.

All Black Aaron Smith and his fiancee Teagan Voykovich are expecting their first baby this year. Photo / Instagram
All Black Aaron Smith and his fiancee Teagan Voykovich are expecting their first baby this year. Photo / Instagram

There's All Black Aaron Smith, overheard in 2016 taking part in a sexual act in a Christchurch Airport disabled toilet .

The woman wasn't his partner, Teagan Voykovich, but the incident didn't cost Smith his relationship — the star halfback announced his engagement to Voykovich, who is pregnant with their son , in March.

And there's Smith's former All Black teammate, Jerome Kaino, who in 2017 flew home from Australia hours before a Bledisloe Cup test amid overseas media reports of an affair with a former model.

Kaino's wife, Diana Breslin, with whom Kaino has three children, stuck by him and the family moved to France last year where Kaino is playing for Toulouse.

Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and wife Helen Craig at a media conference in 2015, after allegations of sexual harassment were made against Craig. File photo / Nick Reed
Former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and wife Helen Craig at a media conference in 2015, after allegations of sexual harassment were made against Craig. File photo / Nick Reed

A string of married politicians, from former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig to Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross to Auckland mayor Len Brown have also been outed committing indiscretions.

In Craig's case, he kissed his press secretary and touched her breasts.

Craig's wife, Helen Craig, told the Weekend Herald in an email this week why she stood by her husband.

"There was no infidelity (please refer to dictionary definition) or criminality on Colin's part."

The Collins English Dictionary defines infidelity as a lack of faith or constancy, especially sexual faithfulness, a lack of religious faith; disbelief or an act or instance of disloyalty.

She had never considered walking away from the marriage, she said.

"When my husband was attacked through the media with numerous false claims it never occurred to me to do anything but stand with him and support him. The feedback I have received from family, friends and others has only ever been supportive of me and I have greatly appreciated that.

"For me marriage is about commitment and standing with your husband when he is attacked. He would do the same for me. The strength of two people standing together is great and you can overcome pretty much anything together."

In Ross and Brown's cases, the indiscretions involved an ongoing sexual relationship.

And while all three men's marriages survived the initial storm, one of the women Ross had an affair with, Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, has separated from her husband.

Discussing infidelity in relationships.

There are also plenty of overseas examples of marriages overseas staying strong despite allegations of the male half straying — from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Donald and Melania Trump to John F. Kennedy , who a string of women have claimed to have had trysts with while he was married to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Acting couple Jude Law and Sienna Miller initially stuck together after Law admitted sleeping with his kids' nanny , but the couple later broke up.

Law publicly apologised to Miller, as did talk show king David Letterman to his wife. His marriage survived his shock announcement on air, following a blackmail attempt, that: 'I have had sex with women who work for me'.

Couplework clinical psychologist Nic Beets, who specialises in relationship and sex therapy and has spent 25 years helping couples following infidelity, says cheaters were "pretty equal" across the sexes.

It can be incredibly hard for the person cheated on to walk away from a longtime relationship, and all that's come from it.

"You've invested many years of your life, you might have property together, you might have children together. If you end that relationship your life as you know it is over, and that's not something you should do lightly."

Jerome Kaino and Diana Breslin, pictured in 2012. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jerome Kaino and Diana Breslin, pictured in 2012. Photo / Greg Bowker

There's no simple answers to why some couples survive the breach of trust, but financial and social reasons could be a factor in influencing women to stay, he says.

Women, especially those with children, were also more likely to be in a more perilous financial situation than a man.

"You could also argue that there is a very strong difference in socialisation ... on average women are much more socialised towards making compromise in order to make relationships, communities work. Men are more socialised to autonomy and selfishness."

Beets has seen religion "unfortunately exploited by men", in keeping some marriages together.

"You don't see that with women. It's a really strong exercise of patriarchy, and it's really distressing."

Some literature claims women are more upset by the emotional infidelity, and men with the physical act, Beets says.

Former US president Bill Clinton has admitted to infidelity, but it hasn't cost him his marriage to wife, Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP
Former US president Bill Clinton has admitted to infidelity, but it hasn't cost him his marriage to wife, Hillary Clinton. Photo / AP

But he's unsure how up to date the research is. He not seen it in his practice, he says.

"The trouble is men are socialised that they're not allowed vulnerable emotions. The only emotions they're allowed are anger and lust. All of men's hunger for intimacy, for attachment, gets channelled into sex.

"I think that's a shallow study, but I don't think men are as sexually focused as our culture makes them out to be, and it's very silencing of men who are different."

When couples come to him his first question to the aggrieved party is, "If you risk further trust with somebody who has breached that trust, can you keep yourself safe and sane if it happens again?'".

"They might not be happy, but they will be alive and sane."

If the answer is yes, that creates an opportunity to "talk about things in a real way" and rebuild the relationship, Beets says.

"The discovery of any affair blows open a whole lot of things that haven't been talk about, and it gets talked about ... you can rebuild intimacy and reliability and empathy, over time.

"The tracking device on the car is not the answer."