The identity of a secret jailhouse witness who gave false evidence in the David Tamihere murder trial can now be revealed.
Previously known only as 'Witness C', Robert Conchie Harris can now be named as the person convicted on eight counts of perjury last year.
- Witness C perjury case a 'stain on the justice system' - Arthur Taylor
- Key evidence in Tamihere murder trial made up
- Tamihere witness admitted being paid for testimony, court told
Newshub and other media outlets have been fighting to name Harris since his conviction. Harris has a background of serious offending, including a conviction for a double murder in 1983.
During Tamihere's trial, Harris, who was in jail at the same time as Tamihere, claimed Tamihere had confessed he'd killed tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen and dumped their bodies at sea.
Mr Hoglin's body was eventually found buried in bush in Whangamata and Ms Paakkonen's body has never been located.
While Harris has changed his story multiple times, he did at one stage claim he'd lied after police offered him money and help getting parole for testifying as a prosecution witness in the Tamihere trial. However, a 1996 Police Complaints Authority Investigation found no evidence to support allegations of police misconduct.
Tamihere, who served 20 years for the tourists' killings, told Newshub suppression being lifted on Harris is "major" and should come as a warning to other inmates who think they can fabricate evidence and remain anonymous.
"It's sending out a message to these guys that you may not be named on the day, but you will be somewhere down the track. It'll make 'em think twice about it."
Inmate and jailhouse lawyer Arthur Taylor took the perjury case against Harris. He described the decision by the High Court to lift suppression as "a great day for justice".
In a statement, he said Harris was a serial liar and hoped he'd "rot in prison".
Harris himself is also a convicted double murderer. He shot dead Trevor Crossley and Carol Pye at their house in Titoki near Whangarei in February 1983.
Ms Pye was a mother of three and the shootings occurred after a minor disagreement between Harris and Mr Crossley, who were cousins.
Harris had been living with the couple. According to his statement reported by the Northern Advocate at the time, he shot Mr Crossley in the back of the head and then called out to Ms Pye saying he wanted to show her something. As she left the house and walked past him, he shot her too.
Tamihere, who had always denied killing the tourists, has exhausted most legal avenues to clear his name, but says he is still hoping to file an application for a Royal Prerogative of Mercy with the Governor-General.
- If you have further information, contact MichaelMorrah@mediaworks.co.nz
In 1972, Tamihere was convicted of another killing - the manslaughter of 23-year-old Auckland woman Mary Barcham.