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David Harvey Crewe (20 October 1941 – c.17 June 1970), known as Harvey, and Jeannette Lenore Crewe (6 February 1940 – c.17 June 1970) were a New Zealand farming couple (married 18 June 1966 in Auckland) who were shot to death around 17 June 1970. The murders led to the wrongful conviction and subsequent pardoning of a farmer who lived nearby. A Royal Commission set up to investigate the miscarriage of justice found that a detective had fabricated evidence and placed it at the scene of the crime. No person was ever charged with planting the evidence, and the murders remain unsolved. Background[edit] In 1970, the Crewes and their infant daughter lived on their farm at Pukekawa, Lower Waikato, Jeannette was afraid to be in the house without her husband after arson attacks including one in which clothes were set on fire in a bedroom.[1] At the time of her death, Jeanette was about to receive a half share in the neighboring farm, which her father, Lenard W. Demler (died 4 November 1992), lived alone on.[1][2] The bequest to Jeannette had came about after Jeannette‘s sister had been cut from the will of their wealthy mother, and Demler had removed Jeannette as a beneficiary of his own will in retaliation, though she had no role in the original matter.[2] Jeannette's mother had then re-wrote her will to bequeath Jeannette a half share in the farm Demler lived on.[2][1] Crime[edit] Husband and wife Harvey (28) and Jeannette Crewe (30) were found to be missing from their bloodstained farmhouse at Pukekawa, Lower Waikato on 22 June 1970 by Jeannette's father, Lenard W. Demler (died 4 November 1992) who had been asked to look in on them by a neighbour.[3]:101 The Crewes' 18-month-old daughter Rochelle was alive in her cot in the house[3]:103 in an undernourished condition.[3]:103 The Crewes had last been seen on the 17th,[3]:94 and milk, bread and newspaper deliveries on the morning of the 18th had not been collected from the letterbox.[3] No medical data exists as to whether an infant could survive without fluids for five days, because the situation has never been encountered.[4][1] Although the Crewes 18 month old daughter had tissue loss, suggesting she may not have eaten anything between the 17 June and 22 June, the degree to which she retained water during treatment indicated that she had not ingested fluids for at most 48 hours before she was found.[1][3]:103 A witness later reported that he had seen a woman unknown to him on the property during the 19th.[3]:92[3]:14 Len Demler was the leading suspect due to his propinquity, strange behavior when first on the scene, Jeanette's blood on his car seat and a scratch on his neck. However, the case was circumstantial and he strongly denied any knowledge of what had happened to his daughter and her husband.[1] Jeannette's body was found on 16 August, wrapped in a duvet bound with copper wire,[5] in the Waikato River[3]:14 and her husband's body was retrieved upriver on 16 September.[3]:14 A car axle, which had apparently been used to weigh down Harvey's body, was also found.[3]:15 Investigation, trials and pardon[edit] Both victims had been shot dead with a .22 caliber firearm; Jeannette had broken facial bones from being struck with a blunt instrument.[1] Demler had been considered a suspect due to his lack of alibi and Jeannette’s blood being found in his car, but the brutality of the assault on her, and the lead investigator's belief that she had been raped, led to doubts that her father was involved.[1] On the basis that the murderer might have used a legitimately held gun, police collected and test-fired 64 registered .22 firearms, 3% of the total in the Pukekawa area.[3]:96[2] After testing in 1980, only one of the 64 rifles had not been eliminated as a possible murder weapon, but these results did not establish that the weapon had been used to murder the Crewes, or any probability that it was.[6][3]:14[3]:96 An un-eliminated rifle belonged to Arthur Allan Thomas.[2] Although police suggested to him during an interview that his rifle was used to kill the Crewes, the gun was returned to him the following day, September 8.[3]:14[2] On 27 October 1970, the garden at the Crewe house was searched for a third time and a spent cartridge case was found, apparently still lying where the murderer had left it.[3]:15 The case carried marks which showed it had been ejected from Thomas' rifle.[3]:17 In November, Thomas was arrested and charged. Despite his wife and cousin giving him a strong alibi for the 17 June, Thomas was sent for trial on a charge of murdering the Crewes.[2] The prosecution suggested Thomas’s wife had been the woman seen at the Crewes’, although she was not charged (the witness was certain she was not who he saw). The prosecution said the motive for the murders was that Thomas had been obsessed with Jeannette, an accusation for which they provided very little evidence.[2] A witness who did give testimony supporting the prosecution’s contention that Jeannette had been pestered by Thomas was Demler; he was cross examined about why he had not mentioned such obviously relevant information before the court had begun sitting.[1] Thomas was found guilty of the murders in a 1971 trial, but the conviction was overturned on appeal. He was tried again in 1973 and convicted. Supporters of Thomas started a campaign to bring to public attention that the key evidence against him had serious anomalies.[2] Campaign, pardon and Royal Commission[edit] A campaign, led in part by Pat Booth of the Auckland Star, was largely responsible for getting Thomas released with a pardon. Campaigners said forensic work by Dr Jim Sprott had showed that the cartridge case had been planted at the scene, and that its method of construction identified it as being from a batch that could not have contained the number 8 bullets recovered from the victims.[3]:53[7][7] Following David Yallop's book about the case Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Thomas was pardoned by the Governor-General in 1979, on the recommendation of then Prime Minister of New Zealand
Prime Minister of New Zealand
Robert Muldoon, and released after serving nine years in prison. He was paid NZ$950,000 compensation for his time in jail and loss of the use of the farm.[8] A Royal Commission of Inquiry was ordered to review the wrongful conviction of Thomas and reported to the Governor-General in November 1980.[9] The Commissioners found that the spent cartridge case from Thomas's gun, Exhibit 350, had not been left by the murderer, but had been created weeks later by police using Thomas's impounded gun and ammunition, then planted at the Crewes'.[10] The Royal Commission's report said Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton and Detective Sergeant Lenrick Johnston were implicated in the misconduct, and that the prosecution of Thomas for the murders had been unjustified.[11] Despite the Royal Commission describing the conduct of Hutton and Johnston as an "unspeakable outrage", the New Zealand police never laid charges against any police officer involved in the investigation and prosecution of Thomas. Lenrick Johnston died in 1978. Bruce Hutton died in 2013. The case was made into the docu-drama feature film book Beyond Reasonable Doubt in 1980.[2] Status of the case[edit] In 2014 an official review of the investigation into the homicides said that evidence available in the murder of the Crewes was inconclusive, and it was unlikely that the case could now be solved. The review acknowledged that a key prosecution exhibit in the trials had been fabricated by detectives, but did not appear to accept that they could have been on the wrong track; the review implied that the Crewes’ then-18 month old daughter had not ingested any fluids between 17 June and 22 June, and said a witness had been mistaken in thinking he had had seen a woman on the farm during that period. The review ruled out Demler having been the killer. Rochelle Crewe expressed satisfaction that a police review of evidence had cleared her deceased grandfather, Demler, of involvement in the murders.[12] The case remains unsolved. See also[edit]

Crime in New Zealand List of unsolved deaths The Eyre Murder

References[edit]

^ a b c d e f g h i Beyond Reasonable doubt?, (2014) David Yallop ^ a b c d e f g h i j Justice Denied: Extraordinary miscarriages of justice, James Morton 2015 ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Report of the Royal Commission to Inquire into the Circumstances of the Convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas for the Murders of David Harvey Crewe and Jeanette Lenore Crewe 1980" (PDF). Retrieved 27 August 2017.  ^ [Crewe Homicide review http://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/crewe-review-appendix-4.pdf] ^ "Forensic History: Crimes, Frauds, and Scandals" by Professor Elizabeth A Murray ^ nzherald.co.nz New evidence claims in Crewe case 2 Aug, 2014 ^ a b "Crewe murders: Police admit cartridge planted". stuff.co.nz. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2016.  ^ Report of the Royal Commission to Inquire into the Circumstances of the Convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas for the Murders of David Harvey Crewe and Jeanette Lenore Crewe, 1980 (PDF), p. 120, retrieved 2010-10-15  ^ "Report of the Royal Commission to Inquire into the Circumstances of the Convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas for the Murders of David Harvey Crewe and Jeanette Lenore Crewe, 1980" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-27.  ^ "Report of the Royal Commission to Inquire into the Circumstances of the Convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas for the Murders of David Harvey Crewe and Jeanette Lenore Crewe, 1980" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-27.  ^ "Report of the Royal Commission to Inquire into the Circumstances of the Convictions of Arthur Allan Thomas for the Murders of David Harvey Crewe and Jeanette Lenore Crewe, 1980" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-27.  ^ nzherald.co.nz 31 Jul, 2014, Rochelle Crewe: [Report clears my family's name http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11301680]

Further reading[edit]

Swain, Evan (1971). The Crewe Murders. Auckland.  Bell, Terry (1972). Bitter Hill: Arthur Thomas—the case for a retrial. Auckland: Avante-Garde Publishing.  Booth, Pat (1975). Trial by Ambush: the fate of Arthur Thomas. Wellington: South Pacific Press.  Bailey, Earl (1976). Quash the Verdicts—The Thomas Affair. Auckland.  Sprott, Jim; Pat Booth (1976). A.B.C. of Injustice. Wellington.  Yallop, David A. (1978). Beyond Reasonable Doubt. Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-23667-1.  Birt, Chris (2001). The Final Chapter. Penguin.  Wishart, Ian (September 2010). Arthur Allan Thomas: The Inside Story. Auckland: Howling At The Moon Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9582401-7-8.  Hunter, Keith (April 2012). The Case Of The Missing Bloodstain : Inside an incompetent and corrupt police inquiry: the truth of the Crewe murders. Auckland: Hunter Productions Ltd. ISBN 978-0-473-19646-2. 

External links[edit]

Article by Pat Booth in the New Zealand Listener Report urging Police to reopen the case in 2006 Based on Chris Birt's investigation into the identity of the unknown woman. Interview with Investigative journalist Pat Booth - 40 years since the Crewe Murders [http://tvnz.co.nz/the-investigator/special-killed-crewes-4948242 'Who Killed the Crewes?' The Investigator Special, 2012, Bryan Bru

.