Scene of the Crime

The Scene of the Crime

The Scene of the Crime by Steve Braunias

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was a fan of NZ journalist, Steve Braunias even before I read his rebuttal to literary snob Graeme Lay in my favourite online magazine, Spinoff*…

This collection of essays, originally published in various NZ newspapers & magazine, shows Braunias’ great strength is not only his writing ability, but also his heart. Braunias has made me look again at one of NZ’s most notorious murder cases the Mark Lundy case – & think about it again. Ultimately, my opinion hasn’t changed, but I was able to entertain the idea that there were others who may have had a motive to harm Lundy & his wife Christine & his daughter was unlucky enough to be woken by the noise – & maybe Lundy was lucky to be away on business at the time. But in spite of incompetent scientists, whack job witnesses & police who appeared more interested in getting a result than being sure they had the right defendant, I still think Lundy is as guilty as sin. I think maybe Braunias should have expanded the 3 chapters given to the Lundy case into a book, as interest in some of the other court cases (Guy Hallwright, Derek King) has faded &, with apologies to the victims of Chris Wang, I had forgotten this case.

Yet another article about (shudder!) that disgusting pervert Rolf Harris was necessary at the time, but I don’t think I needed to read again (as an aside, I was staggered to find out that Harris is no longer behind bars)… ) This article not up to Braunias’ usual standards – its oddly passionless.But, just when I was thinking maybe Braunias should have stuck to NZ cases – well, the Australian case of Brad Murdoch was powerful stuff.

I was most interested in the strange, sad, horrifying case of Antonie Dixon, since his attack on his girlfriend & ex girlfriend happened in an isolated area not that far from where I live. Braunias’ theory (that Dixon, was insane, thought he was sane, so pretended to be insane at the trial) is the best explanation I’ve read about Dixon’s bizarre appearance & behaviour in court. Dixon did everything short of foam at the mouth.

That haircut looks familiar…

I really want to read Simonne Butler’s autobiography now, Double-edged Sword: The Simonne Butler Story She was his victim – now more than a survivor.

& on page 27, Braunias mentions, but doesn’t elaborate on other famous cases in NZ where many believe the police got it dead (pardon the pun) wrong. I do emphasise Braunias writes little to nothing about these cases.

Let’s play Guilty or Not Guilty!

Arthur Thomas – Our justice system’s most notorious stuff up, imprisoned for nine years for a couple of murders he didn’t commit. Now pardoned. Not Guilty

David Bain – also pardoned, but I still think he is Guilty

David Tamihere – another famous case in my backyard. (I swear I live in one of the most peaceful parts on NZ. That made these cases all the more shocking) He was partly convicted on the evidence of a couple of secret witnesses that wouldn’t have convinced a child of four. I don’t agree with wrong methods being used to get the “right” results. I lost a lot of confidence in our justice system after this one. Nevertheless Guilty

John Barlow- I was glad Braunias mentioned this. Less famous than the other cases, for me this case didn’t make sense. In spite of Barlow’s lies & really stupid behaviour, I’m still not convinced he did it. Neither were the first two juries. I hate things that don’t make sense – & nothing about this case did.I’m going to go with the Scottish option Not Proven Since this isn’t as well known as the other cases (where Google is your friend) I’m providing a link.…

Scott Watson. I’m not certain he is guilty. More importantly, neither is Olivia Hope’s father. Probably Not Guilty

Teina Pora. No doubt on this one – & Malcolm Rewa was just convicted of Susan Burdett’s rape & murder. Since he was already in prison for multiple violent rapes, Rewa will never be a free man again. Shame on the police concerned & shame on some on some of Pora’s family who dobbed him in to collect a relatively small reward. Not Guilty

I don’t want to bag on NZ police too much. Newspapers & the public put a lot of pressure on them To Get a Result.

Reading these cases & the other ones I have mentioned will give the idea that NZ is an extremely violent place. It is (sadly) no better or no worse than anywhere else.

I’ve rambled again, sorry. I do that.

* I just wish Spinoff hadn’t farmed it’s comments out to Facebook. The comments lost a lot of their vitality then.

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