30 Jun 2018

Gone Fishing: Former cop ‘can’t be sure’ he got it right

7:47 pm on 30 June 2018

By Amy Maas and Adam Dudding

* Warning: If you haven't yet listened to the Gone Fishing podcast, please be aware there are some spoilers in this article.

The former detective who headed the case against Gail Maney says he is not "100 percent" sure he got the case against her right.

Mark Franklin.

Mark Franklin. Photo: Jason Dorday / Stuff

Mark Franklin, who was a detective inspector at the time of the investigation, has defended the case he built against Maney for the murder of Deane Fuller-Sandys on August 21, 1989.

He also linked the murder of Leah Stephens, who disappeared five days later, to the case during the course of the investigation.

A decade after Fuller-Sandys went missing, Maney was jailed for life for ordering a hit on Fuller-Sandys, and Stephen Stone was jailed for life for carrying out the killing. Stone is also serving a concurrent sentence for the rape and murder of Stephens, who had witnessed Fuller-Sandys' murder and threatened to go to police. Her skeletal remains were found in the bush at Muriwai in 1992.

Franklin said the case was one of the most complex he'd ever dealt with, as there was no forensic evidence or DNA to link Maney to the killing apart from the evidence given by witnesses.

But he defended the charges against Maney, saying she refused to co-operate, unlike the other witnesses who ended up giving evidence against her in court.

"That was their legal right not to say anything, but I always ask myself why aren't you saying anything when these other people are saying we've got something here," said Franklin.

Read and listen:

  • RNZ and Stuff's interactive long-form write-up: Gone Fishing: Murder, mayhem ... maybe
  • In the police version of events, Maney believed Fuller-Sandys had burgled her home and she became so enraged she ordered a hit on him. Stephen Stone carried out the hit in her garage in Larnoch Rd, Henderson where several people took turns shooting him. His body was then put in a boot of a car and disposed of. His body has never been found.

    In the years leading up to Maney and Stone being charged with Fuller-Sandys' murder, it was believed that he had gone missing while fishing at Whatipu.

    Franklin said that the witnesses who said they were present during the killing had implicated themselves deeply in the crimes, and gave evidence despite not being assured of immunity until afterward. However, four people were granted immunity from prosecution, and witness protection. Had Gail admitted a burglary had occurred and the fact she knew Fuller-Sandys, her fate may have been different, Franklin said.

    "She could have come and said, yeah Deane was there and we had a burglary but I didn't mean for this' … And then she would have been fine," Franklin said.

    "If she'd come out with that line and we'd put that statement in, there'd be a very good chance that she would have been in the witness box and not as an accused."

    Maney had given a statement to police in which she denied any part in an alleged murder.

    She has also maintained her innocence since her arrest in 1997. And since being sentenced to life, she has applied to several justice groups to review what she says is a miscarriage of justice.

    "My story has never changed, and I don't have to go back and look at the statement I did on July 3, 1997 to see what I said back then," said Maney.

    Maney continues to maintain that she didn't even know Fuller-Sandys.

    Franklin disputed this in Gone Fishing, and said that he was pictured with Gail and her flatmates at the Larnoch Rd address where he was meant to have been murdered. But when New Zealand Police were approached for a request to view these photographs, Detective Roger Small from Waitemata policing district, said they did not exist.

    However, Franklin said that if there was any other evidence out there that could exonerate Maney, he would like to hear about it.

    "All I want to say is I did the investigation to the best of my ability, put the investigation to the Crown, there were two successful prosecutions and guilty verdicts … now there are some questions being raised by Gail and the media is taking this up.

    "In my heart and mind we've done the right thing. We've done it by the book, the judicial system has played its part. But if there is some other information out there that could possibly come in, well, so be it.

    "I'm not saying the police got it 100 percent right, but we've done what we can in the circumstances."

    To find out more, you can subscribe to the full eight-part Gone Fishing series at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or any other podcast app. Or, you can go to the RNZ homepage and click on Podcasts.

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