12 Feb 2018

Inmate informant to continue fight to keep name secret

7:46 pm on 12 February 2018

A prison informant convicted for lying to the jury in the trial against David Tamihere can keep his name secret - for now.

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Photo: 123RF

The witness, known as Witness C has been convicted of perjury, following a successful private prosecution by career criminal Arthur Taylor.

He lost his name suppression as he was sentenced to eight and-a-half years in prison but has appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal.

Taylor's lawyer Richard Francois argued Witness C should be named.

He said people who violated the justice system should not expect the system to protect them but he said that was exactly what Witness C had done.

Witness C told Tamihere's 1990 trial that Tamihere had made a number of confessions to him, including that he had sexually abused the Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Hoglin and that he had dumped their bodies at sea.

Following Tamihere's trial, Mr Hoglin's body was found in a shallow grave on the Coromandel Peninsula. Ms Paakonen has never been found.

Witness C later recanted the confession saying he had been put up to it by police - something police denied. An investigation subsequently cleared police of any wrongdoing.

Today at the Court of Appeal, Witness C's lawyer Heather Vaughn said her client should be allowed to keep his name secret.

She said her client planned to appeal his convictions for perjury.

If that was successful there would be a retrial but if he was named, he might not get a fair trial as potential jurors might have heard about his history in the media.

She said media coverage would likely be extensive because of her client's link to the Tamihere trial and there would be coverage overseas, given the victims.

It was also in the public interest to keep the identity of informants secret as it might deter other informants coming forward, she said.

Another lawyer for Witness C, Adam Simperingham, confirmed he told the trial judge in chambers that he couldn't see any possible grounds of appeal.

However, Mr Simperingham went on to say that Witness C told him minutes later that he did want to appeal.

Justice Asher asked Ms Vaughn how her client could appeal, given he was on the public record twice admitting he had lied to the jury.

Ms Vaughn said she could not speculate on the appeal now.

In reply, Mr Francois said Witness C's appeal did not have any chance of success.

He said he had no respect for witness C and described him as someone who manipulates the justice system.

Mr Francois said if Witness C was named, any memory of the media coverage in the minds of jurors would fade as the trial would be at least a year away.

Justice Asher has asked for a full transcript of the High Court sentencing notes and other files from the High Court. The three Court of Appeal judges have reserved their decision.

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