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David Wayne TAMIHERE





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1972 / 1989
Date of birth: 1954
Victims profile: Mary Barcham, 23 (stripper) / Sven Urban Höglin, 23, and his fiancée Heidi Birgitta Paakkonen, 21 (Swedish tourists)
Method of murder: Hitting her on the head with a rifle / Stabbing with knife
Location: New Zealand
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a 10-year non-parole period in December 1990. Released on parole on November 15, 2010

photo gallery


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 evidence presented.

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.

All the 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 body).

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.


David Tamihere


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


Heidi Paakkonen
Urban Hoglin
Mary Barcham


Born 1954

Current Location


Parole/Release Dates

Was sentenced to life imprisonment in late 1991
Parole refused September 2004, June 2005 and again in June 2006
Next parole hearing June 2007


Murderer David Tamihere freed

By Neil Reid -

November 15, 2010

David Tamihere has been released from prison, 20 years after being jailed for the murders of Swedish backpackers Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin.

A Corrections spokeswoman confirmed he had been released from Spring Hill prison in the early hours of this morning.

The early-hours release meant Tamihere and his family avoided the media scrum which formed outside the prison from 5am onwards.

The response from Heidi Paakkonen's family to Tamihere's release from prison today was swift.

Speaking to 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 said.

Tamihere, 57, secured his freedom after appearing in front of the Parole Board on November 2, his 14th such hearing.

The board 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.

The 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.

Meanwhile, Cea has revealed the Paakkonen family still questions whether Tamihere acted alone in slaying Heidi and Urban.

A popular theory bandied about in the years following Tamihere's conviction was that he had one or more accomplices who had gone unpunished.

When asked for her view, Cea said: ''It could be possible ... why not?

''Yes of course [we have thought about it], we talk about it quite a lot. But we don't know, so we just talk.

''Sometimes you think, 'What did happen, what if it was two or three people?'. We talk, but we don't know ... nobody knows'.''

Ad Feedback Earlier, Urban's brother Stefan Hoglin confided that Tamihere ''maybe had a companion''.

The Parole 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''.

But Katrina Casey, general manager Community Probation Services, said the agency would still regard Tamihere as at high risk of reoffending.

''Our primary concern is public safety,'' she said.

''We can 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.

Tamihere's 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.

The Parole 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 alcoholic.

Casey said the probation service would ''first and foremost'' ensure Tamihere complied with those conditions ''with timely enforcement action being taken if he does not comply''.

''Each time 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.

''We will 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 others.''

Tamihere 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.

Casey said 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.

The service was also aware that Tamihere's release was of high ''public interest''.

But she warned the spotlight on the double murderer, and any intrusions of his privacy, could compromise his return to the community.

''While we 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.

''Our primary 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 the community.''

This morning Tamihere was provided with a Keep Safe pamphlet giving him tips on how to avoid risky situations that would pull him back into offending.

Officials 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.

Tamihere is 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''.

Tamihere has been battling a heart condition and chronic arthritis.

His family 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.

Police had 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.

The board 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 further.''

Tamihere was 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 Auckland.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 1990.


Murder of Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen

Swedish 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.

In December 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.

Höglin's body 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 raping Paakkonen.

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.

Cultural influence

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

Friday December 01, 2000

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 Paremoremo.

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 non-parole period.

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 cases.

If Tamihere is denied parole, he will become eligible for another hearing in a year.

The New Zealand Herald



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