24 Dec 2023

Gail Maney murder conviction appeal filed to court

3:20 pm on 24 December 2023
Gail Maney.

Gail Maney. Photo: Jason Dorday / Stuff

An investigator leading the appeal for Gail Maney says it has taken five years to file an appeal but it is finally complete, claiming it is the worst miscarriage of justice in Aotearoa's history.

Maney spent 15 years in jail for the killing of West Auckland tyre-fitter Deane Fuller-Sandys, who disappeared without trace in 1989.

On Friday, a recall application was filed, asking the court to retract their 2005 decision to dismiss Gail's appeal against her murder conviction.

Investigator Tim McKinnell said there was a range of issue that went wrong in the 2005 appeal.

"One of the most obvious is the fact the trial judge from her 1999 trial, who was criticised in her 1999 appeal appeared on the appeal bench in 2005 and we think that is fundamentally wrong," McKinnell said.

"There were a range of other issues, we think the court was misled and we think there are some non-disclosure issues as well. So we think that appeal decision is fundamentally flawed and are seeking the court to recall it."

For years after Fuller-Sandys' disappearance, he was believed to have drowned while fishing on Auckland's west coast.

But after a cold-case investigation in the late 1990s, police accused Maney of asking her associate Stephen Stone to kill Fuller-Sandys, in revenge for stealing drugs from her home in Larnoch Rd, West Auckland.

The police case was that Fuller-Sandys was shot dead at that same Larnoch Rd flat, in front of numerous witnesses.

Maney and Stone were both found guilty of Fuller-Sandys' murder, and two other associates were found guilty as accessories after the fact. Maney is on life parole, having spent a total of 15 years in prison, including recalls to prison for breaching parole conditions.

Maney appealed her 1999 guilty murder conviction, but was found guilty again after a retrial in 2000.

She has always maintained she never met Fuller-Sandys before, let alone orchestrated a "hit" on him.

McKinnell said he was adamant she and three others had been wrongfully convicted.

"Gail's been wrongfully convicted and served 15 years in prison, Stephen Stone has been convicted of two murders I don't think he had anything to do with. He's still in prison after 25 years. There was two other men that were also convicted as accessories after the fact."

More evidence would be filed in January which would determine the court process moving forward, McKinnell said.

"We think there are some pretty substantial issues, we know from the Alan Hall case that the crown is prepared to take an open mind to some of these historical cases, we hope that happens here again,"

Meanwhile, Stephen Stone has an application and an appeal to be heard in August 2024.

"The evidence convicted Stephen and Gail and the others was the evidence of four people, two of those people have now recanted that and have said none of that is true. We think there's an opportunity now for the two men whose names are suppressed to come forward and do the right thing, correct what happened in 2000 at the trial," McKinnell said.

The events leading to Maney's arrest and imprisonment were the subject of an award-winning investigative podcast series, Gone Fishing, that was co-produced by Stuff and RNZ.

Listen to the podcast here.

-With additional reporting by Stuff.

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