The Tamihere case: In the Shadow of Murder

While Tamihere himself believes the secret witness evidence turned the jury against him, the most compelling testimony at the trial was undoubtedly that of seasoned trampers and Search and Rescue veterans John Cassidy and Mel Knauf, who identified him as the man they’d seen with a blonde woman resembling Paakkonen at Crosbies Clearing just after 3pm on Saturday, April 8, 1989. The woman, they said, appeared ill at ease and out of place.

These days, most people don’t recall that trial judge David Tompkins regarded their identification of Tamihere as so tainted by unacceptable police practices that at a pre-trial hearing, he ordered it inadmissible. Crown prosecutor David Morris had argued the Cassidy and Knauf evidence was backed up by one of the secret witnesses, leading Tompkins to remark: “The danger of doubtful evidence being used to support and corroborate doubtful evidence is obvious.”