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Kahui: Silence: one of hardest arguments to refute




Kahui: Silence - one of the hardest arguments to refute

Richard Lewis

The nerve of the Kahui defence lawyers to complain against the police handling of the double-murder investigation of babies Chris and Cru is beyond me. They want to take the police to task for allegedly failing to disclose facts relevant to the defence case.

If we are going to get precious about this issue of ‘disclosure’ at this stage, might I remind Kahui’s lawyers that it was their client and his whanau that failed to disclose the single most important fact in this case, and that is the identity of the murderer (or murderers) of two defenceless and innocent babies killed on their watch and under their roof.

There was and remains no such disclosure on the part of the Kahui whanau. (Nor is there any suggestion from the Kahui’s or the police that the perpetrator is foreign to the family). To the contrary, the Kahui’s stonewalled the police investigation from the outset. They set the timetable and dictated the terms of the enquiry by offering up nothing but thin air in response to the paramount question of “who did it?”

Unlike CSI Miami, our investigators are good but they cannot produce evidence out of thin air. They rely on the facts being established from those in the know who in this case, are the deceased babies’ parents and their whanau.

Faced with this wall of deafening silence, investigators had no choice but to rely on peripheral facts to build a circumstantial case. A circumstantial case is much like a jigsaw puzzle. You invariably don’t have all the pieces but you rely on having enough puzzle-pieces to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of what the final picture looks like. In this case, the largest and single most important piece was and remains missing, which is the identity of the offender(s) within a readily identifiable group of people. Without that group offering up the vital piece of evidence, prosecutors were always going to struggle to achieve the standard of proof required to secure a conviction. That piece will now likely remain buried in the conscience of the Kahui clan and their closest associates.

This case also raises a topical question as to the right to silence for suspects of crimes of this nature and whether there is a point where that right is outweighed by their responsibility to the victims, our community and our justice system. The debate might go towards appeasing a public denied closure in the case of two murdered babies, but the implications of forced confessions render the debate futile.

The defence team has nothing to gain by complaining against the police who were on a hiding to nothing, being wedged between the suspects constitutional right to silence and a public outcry for blood. Because as the Kahui's, their defence team and the police well know - silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.

Richard Lewis is a former South Auckland police sergeant


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