David Tamihere was convicted in 1990 of the double murder of Heidi
Paakonaan and Urban Hoglan. At the time of the trial no bodies had been
found, and when the body of Urban Hoglan was found nearly a year later,
it actually cast a good deal of doubt on some of the circumstantial
The first thing that should have put us all on guard
in connection with this case was the use of three "secret" prison
informers, presenting hearsay evidence of supposed confessions overheard
in prison. It is now well known that some of the most notorious
miscarriages of justice overseas (Canada and USA) have involved the use
of this sort of testimony, and in these jurisdictions such testimony is
excluded from being used in a trial.
What makes it even worse is that
these witnesses were anonymous, to protect them from reprisals say the
police, but in fact making it incredibly difficult for the defence to
mount a robust cross examination or rebuttal. Since the trial, as we
know, one of these witnesses has retracted his evidence. Use of these
witnesses damns the fairness of the trial from the very start.
other evidence presented was circumstantial, and we couldn't even be
sure there had been a murder, though this certainly seemed the most
likely event. We depended on such damning evidence as "he had staring
eyes" or the watch Tamihere gave away was the same one as Urban Hoglan
had on his wrist (which of course wasn't true, as it was found on the
This case bears
striking similarities to the Scott Watson case, a young couple missing,
presumed murdered, no bodies, and entirely circumstantial evidence and
secret jail-house narks procured a conviction, except in the Scott
Watson case, two hairs that possibly linked him to a victim and in the
David Tamihere case there is a history violent offending in the past,
including the manslaughter of a young woman.
Therefore it is unlikely,
despite the suspect nature of this trial, that there is much public
sympathy for his plight, and it is doubtful too that many would consider
this trial a miscarriage of justice. But if we can judge the Scott
Watson trial as a miscarriage, then this trial, in which many of the
same dubious tactics were used, should be considered similarly.
Murdered Swedish tourists Heidi
Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin in Coromandel in 1989.
Also killed Mary Barcham in 1972.
Also assaulted a 62 year old woman in her home in 1985
Also has some other sexual assault and assault convictions
Was sentenced to life imprisonment in
Parole refused September 2004, June 2005 and again in June 2006
Next parole hearing June 2007
David Tamihere freed
By Neil Reid
Tamihere has been released from prison, 20 years after being jailed for
the murders of Swedish backpackers Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin.
spokeswoman confirmed he had been released from Spring Hill prison in
the early hours of this morning.
release meant Tamihere and his family avoided the media scrum which
formed outside the prison from 5am onwards.
from Heidi Paakkonen's family to Tamihere's release from prison today
Stuff from the Swedish village of Storfors, Heidi's sister-in-law, Cea
Paakkonen, said the family knew Tamihere would walk free today - but
getting the news confirming he was out of prison and a free man was
still hard to deal with.
"We knew for
a long time that this would eventually happen. But of course when you
hear that he is to get free, and see it, you are shocked. We don't like
it ... it is nothing that we want. We wanted him to stay in jail,'' she
secured his freedom after appearing in front of the Parole Board on
November 2, his 14th such hearing.
said Tamihere had achieved a "remarkable breakthrough" in treatment for
his offending after talking to a Maori psychologist and completing an
Adult Sex Offenders Treatment Programme - though he still insisted on
his innocence in the killing of the Swedish couple.
Paakkonens and Hoglins were notified of the decision via email before
the board went public with its decision.
''I read it [the
decision] and I understand it. They have done a lot of work and
psychologists [were involved],'' Cea said.
But she said
the Paakkonen family, just like the Hoglins, had hoped Tamihere would
spend the rest of his days behind bars.
Cea has revealed the Paakkonen family still questions whether Tamihere
acted alone in slaying Heidi and Urban.
theory bandied about in the years following Tamihere's conviction was
that he had one or more accomplices who had gone unpunished.
for her view, Cea said: ''It could be possible ... why not?
course [we have thought about it], we talk about it quite a lot. But we
don't know, so we just talk.
you think, 'What did happen, what if it was two or three people?'. We
talk, but we don't know ... nobody knows'.''
Earlier, Urban's brother Stefan Hoglin confided that Tamihere ''maybe
had a companion''.
Board cannot release a prisoner unless it is satisfied that he no longer
posed an ''undue risk to the safety of the community or any person in it''.
Casey, general manager Community Probation Services, said the agency
would still regard Tamihere as at high risk of reoffending.
concern is public safety,'' she said.
provide assurance that Community Probation Services will be managing
this offender's parole order closely and to our maximum ability under
the law. He will be managed as high risk,'' she said.
parole conditions include a lifetime ban on consuming or possessing
drugs or alcohol, to be monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet and to
live in an approved residential address.
Board said alcohol in particular was a major risk for Tamihere and for
many years before being jailed ''he was simply never sober.''
But he had
shown increased ability to manage that risk and accepted he was an
the probation service would ''first and foremost'' ensure Tamihere
complied with those conditions ''with timely enforcement action being
taken if he does not comply''.
we see the offender, we will be using a new dynamic risk assessment tool
to assess his likelihood of reoffending and the risk of harm he may
present to others.
take steps if we consider there to be a high risk in order to reduce
both his likelihood of reoffending and minimise the risk of harm to
would also be required to reappear before the Parole Board in February
for a monitoring and progress hearing to see how he was coping with a
return to the general public.
there was no doubt Tamihere had ''very strong family support'' and the
Probation Service would work closely with his family to ensure his
reintegration into the community was successful.
was also aware that Tamihere's release was of high ''public interest''.
warned the spotlight on the double murderer, and any intrusions of his
privacy, could compromise his return to the community.
recognise that this offender's release from prison has and will continue
to generate media interest, depending on how intrusive it is, it can
have a negative impact on Community Probation Service's staffs' ability
to monitor and manage the offender, as well as potentially impacting on
his successful reintegration,'' she said.
concern, in the interests of public safety, is that there are no serious
distractions or impediments to a smooth start to this offender's release
from prison, particularly given the length of time since he was last in
Tamihere was provided with a Keep Safe pamphlet giving him tips on how
to avoid risky situations that would pull him back into offending.
from Waikato's Spring Hill Prison where Tamihere has served the last few
years of his sentence also paid out money he earned while on the release
to work scheme, kept in a secure trust fund until today.
also be eligible for a Work and Income-provided Steps to Freedom grant
to cover costs related with accommodation, beds and bedding, essential
appliances, connecting telephone, electricity and gas, food, clothing
and toiletry items and other ''re-establishment costs''.
been battling a heart condition and chronic arthritis.
have made a pact not to talk publicly anymore about Tamihere's release
but previously brother, former MP and radio talkback host John Tamihere
has said even if people regarded Tamihere as being guilty of killing the
Swedish tourists, it was time for him to be released.
asked that Tamihere only be released if he told where Heidi Paakkonen's
body is - Hoglin's body was found by trampers in 1992. But the parole
board said: ''We see no useful purpose in pursuing it'' because Tamihere
was adamant he had nothing to do with the killing.
said: ''We feel strongly for the victim's family that they cannot at
present complete the usual funeral and burial procedures which may bring
at least a measure of peace to them but we record that our attempts have
not been successful and we do not think that we can take that matter any
on the run at the time of the killing of the Swedish backpackers, living
rough in bush in Mataroa Bay, Coromandel, having absconded after being
bailed in 1986 for the sexual violation of a 47-year-old woman in
sentenced to life imprisonment in December 1990.
Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen
tourists Sven Urban Höglin, 23, and his fiancée Heidi Birgitta
Paakkonen, 21, disappeared while tramping on the Coromandel
Peninsula of New Zealand in 1989. Police, residents, and military
personnel conducted the largest land-based search undertaken in New
Zealand, attempting to find the couple.
1990, David Wayne Tamihere (born 1953) was convicted of murdering
the pair, and sentenced to life imprisonment, despite the location of
the bodies being unknown at the time of the trial.
was discovered in 1991, and Tamihere filed a series of unsuccessful
appeals during the 1990s. In November 2009, the Parole Board denied
parole for the ninth time, with police arguing against release until
Tamihere discloses the site of Paakkonen's body.
Disappearance and trial
On 8 April 1989, backpacking tourists Höglin and
Paakkonen from Storfors, Sweden went into the bush near Thames. They
vanished and were reported missing in May. The disappearance led to an
intense police investigation under the name Operation Stockholm, and
attracted substantial media interest. Police, local residents, search
and rescue and military personnel carried out the largest land-based
search undertaken in New Zealand, performing grid-searches centred on
Crosbie's Clearing, 12 km from Thames.
Tamihere, a fugitive for skipping bail for a 1986
rape, admitted stealing the Subaru car belonging to the couple. He was
arrested, and tried for their murder starting in October 1990. At the
trial three witnesses (fellow inmates of Tamihere's, granted name
suppression by the court) gave evidence that Tamihere had confessed the
murder to them. Two trampers also identified Tamihere as a man they saw
with a woman believed to be Paakkonen in a remote clearing. The court
also heard Tamihere tied Höglin to a tree and sexually abused him before
In December 1990, the jury found Tamihere guilty of
the murder and theft, and the judge sentenced him to life imprisonment
with a 10-year non-parole period.
In October 1991, ten months after the conviction, pig
hunters discovered the body of Höglin near Whangamata; Paakkonen's body
has never been found. Höglin's body was recovered 73 km from where
police alleged the murders took place. With the body was a watch which
police claimed at his trial Tamihere had given to his son following the
murders. Discovery of the body also contradicted the testimony of a
prosecution witness who said Tamihere had confessed to cutting up the
bodies and throwing them into the ocean.
Tamihere made an appeal against his convictions to
the Court of Appeal of New Zealand, but the court reject the appeal in
May 1992 on the basis the Crown had provided "convincing circumstantial
proof". He was also denied leave to appeal to the Privy Council in 1994.
On 25 August 1995, one of the prosecution witnesses
swore an affidavit attempting to recant evidence, and making allegations
against the police of corruption and perverting the course of justice.
The affidavit was released to Tamihere's counsel Murray Gibson and the
media on 16 July 1996, and a Member of Parliament requested a
ministerial inquiry into the case at Tamihere's behest.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA)
conducted an inquiry, during which the witness withdrew the allegations
of misconduct. After a thorough inquiry, the IPCA concluded that the
police had not been guilty of any wrongdoing, and Minister of Justice
Doug Graham rejected a call for further inquiry into the case. In 1997,
Tamihere then made an application to the United Nations Human Rights
Committee, but the committee found his claims were not substantiated,
and ruled the communication as inadmissible.
Tamihere had a prior conviction for the manslaughter
of an Auckland stripper, 23-year-old Mary Barcham, whom he killed in
1972 when he was 18 by hitting her on the head with a rifle. In 1992 he
was found guilty of assaulting a 62-year-old woman in her home in 1985
and also has a conviction for assaulting another woman in her home in
the 1980s. Tamihere is the brother of former MP John Tamihere.
On 3 November 2010 David Tamihere was granted parole,
to be released on 15 November.
The TV3 show Inside New Zealand: What's Your
Verdict? re-examined the case with a television jury in 2007.
Filmmaker Bryan Bruce made a documentary Murder,
They Said in 1996 examining the case, and wrote the book Hard
Cases, which puts forward the theory Tamihere did not act alone, on
the basis that as there were no defensive cuts to the bones of his hands,
Höglin may have been held from behind while being stabbed from the front.
In 1999 Leanne Pooley made a television documentary
Relative Guilt about the impact on Tamihere's extended family of
his arrest, trial and conviction. The documentary won Best
Documentary at the 2000 Qantas Media Awards.
Links to Thomas case
In November 2009, Pat Booth alleged that the Crown
prosecutor and the police inquiry head in the Tamihere case were both
leading figures in the earlier prosecution of Arthur Allan Thomas which
had involved planting of evidence and perjury.
Swedes' killer up for parole but
history is against him
Convicted killer David Tamihere
will appear before the Parole Board this month after spending 10 years
in jail for murdering Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin.
Tamihere, brother of MP John Tamihere, is
automatically eligible for parole this month, and the board will hear
his case and decide whether he should be freed from Auckland Prison at
The board has refused to discuss Tamihere's case
with the media, but in the past has said that it is unusual for a first
application for release to be granted.
Tamihere, who denies killing the Swedes, was
sentenced in December 1990 to life imprisonment with a 10-year
He has a string of other convictions, including
the manslaughter in 1972 of 23-year-old Mary Barcham.
Tamihere killed the Auckland stripper when he was
aged just 18 by striking her on the head with an air rifle.
He also has sexual assault and assault convictions
stemming from attacks on two women in their homes in the 1980s.
Tamihere was on bail when he murdered the young
Swedish tourists, who disappeared while tramping on the Coromandel
Peninsula in 1989.
Two trampers later identified Tamihere as a man
seen with a woman believed to be Ms Paakkonen, aged 21, in a remote
clearing on the peninsula.
Tamihere was convicted despite police not finding
the couple's bodies, but the case erupted in controversy twice - when
23-year-old Urban Hoglin's body was found 10 months later, and when a
prosecution witness attempted to recant his evidence against Tamihere.
Urban Hoglin's body was uncovered 70km from where
police alleged the murders took place and was found with a watch police
said Tamihere had given to his son.
Tamihere unsuccessfully appealed against his
convictions to the Court of Appeal, which ruled that the Crown's
evidence provided "convincing circumstantial proof" that he had murdered
the couple.An appeal to the Privy Council for the case to be reopened
was lost, and the then Justice Minister, Doug Graham, declined to hold
an inquiry into the convictions.
Inspector Gavin Jones of the Auckland police said
that although Tamihere was eligible for release, it did not mean he
would be granted it.
"This is the first time he has come up."
Mr Jones said police were not planning to present
submissions to the hearing, as all information about the Swedes' case
and Tamihere's other convictions was before the board.
"I'm absolutely sure that the Parole Board would
be well aware of the background to the person they're considering, and
then they make a judgment.
"The penalty for murder is life, but under the old
provisions, life means 10 years [non-parole].
"The bottom line is he's been convicted, he's been
sentenced, he's done his time, he's now going through a process which
needs to be followed. It would be very easy to get emotional - all these
cases are sad.
"We can't just say he's done 10 years, we think he
should have done more. People do their time."
After being sentenced for the couple's murder,
Tamihere was found guilty in 1992 of assaulting a 62-year-old woman in
her home in 1985, and the circumstances of that attack are expected to
be considered at his parole hearing.
A spokeswoman for the Parole Board declined to
comment on the hearing, saying no information was released on individual
If Tamihere is denied parole, he will become
eligible for another hearing in a year.
The New Zealand Herald