Police has today released its review of the Crewe homicide file along with several associated reports and appendices.
The review was initiated in October 2010 in an endeavour to answer questions raised by Rochelle Crewe about the murder of her parents Jeannette and Harvey Crewe at their home in Pukekawa in June 1970.
It has been conducted by Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock assisted by a team of four investigators and analysts, with other resources being called upon as required.
The review has had independent oversight and assessment from David Jones QC.
Acting Deputy Commissioner: National Operations Grant Nicholls says the report is the outcome of an immense amount of work by a dedicated team.
"The review team has applied current analytical tools to a 44-year-old file and assessed all the information available. It began with digitising some 92,000 pages of paper documents so they could be properly managed and assessed.
"It has also involved extensive work to re-interview key witnesses, new forensic testing of remaining exhibits, and consideration of information from the 1970 depositions hearing, the 1971 and 1973 High Court trials, and the 1980 Royal Commission of Inquiry."
The review has made a number of key findings:
- No new evidence has come to light implicating any specific person as being responsible for the murders of Jeannette and Harvey Crewe.
- No new information has come to light that would prompt Police to initiate further inquiries that could realistically identify the offender.
- The review identifies there is a distinct possibility that Exhibit 350 (the brass .22 cartridge case) may be fabricated evidence, and that if this is the case, that a member of Police would have been responsible.
- In 1981, Solicitor General Paul Neazor concluded there was insufficient evidence to implicate anyone for fabricating the provenance of the cartridge case. This remains an authoritative application of the law.
- There is significant physical evidence linking the Thomas farm with the murders. However, in the absence of new evidence, Police are unable to advance this criminal investigation.
Mr David Jones, QC, has provided NZ Police with his commentary on the review. This provides an informed legal interpretation in key areas.
NZ Police thank Mr Jones for his invaluable oversight of the review process.
Mr Nicholls says the review has taken longer than anticipated, but this reflects the complexity of the task and the large volume of information involved. It also reflects a commitment to making this a meticulous and robust process that was not compromised by time considerations.
"Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock is one of our most senior and experienced investigators and his report is a thorough and unflinching analysis of the file. It pulls no punches and I believe it's a significant achievement in giving us the best understanding we can hope to achieve of this 44-year-old inquiry.
"However despite the outstanding work by the review team, we still do not have an answer to certain key questions, particularly who killed the Crewes. This is unsurprising given the passage of time since 1970, the availability of witnesses and the disposal long ago of some key exhibits.
"Rochelle Crewe has been kept fully informed of the review's progress. I'm satisfied that we've done everything within our power to answer her questions but I'm very mindful that the review has not given her the one answer she wanted.
"The report shows some aspects of the original investigation were done well but there were shortfalls that led to missed investigative opportunities which have left her with enduring uncertainty over the death of her parents. I have apologised to her for that and for the anguish caused to her and her family over the years. I’ve also apologised over the report's finding that Police could have reviewed the investigation into her parents' murders earlier.
"Finally, I have thanked her for her patience while the review team worked through its task."
Mr Nicholls says no further action will be taken and Police will not pursue any further avenues in relation to the Crewe murders at this time.
"That said, while the question of who killed Harvey and Jeannette remains unanswered, Police will be open to any significant and credible new information."
Issued by: Grant Ogilvie, NZ Police 021 191 0005
The review report and supporting documents can be found at www.police.govt.nz/crewe-review