“Arthur Allan Thomas has been re-interviewed by police investigating the 1970 murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe, one of New Zealand’s best-known unsolved crimes. Mr Thomas spent nine years in prison for the killings, but was then pardoned. The Weekend Herald can today reveal that in the past few weeks, Mr Thomas, two of his brothers, his sister and her husband have been interviewed by police – and some have been asked to provide alibis. A rifle belonging to Mr Thomas’ brother was taken away by police for testing.
Officers have told the family that they still believe Mr Thomas’ rifle was used to shoot the young couple at their Pukekawa farm in June 1970, despite his being cleared of the double murder. His family say they are horrified that the police are still pursuing and “harassing” them, instead of finding out who really killed the Crewes.”
Now I understand that we should not jump to conclusions and give the team from Senior Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock all the time and all our cooperation to do a thorough review of this cold case that has haunted New Zealand since the 70s. We want a thorough review so that the Crewe’s only child, Rochelle, can find hear what really happened to her parents.
Thomas was not a neighbour as was printed in some newspaper articles. He was a farmer from the other end of the Pukekawa district. The Thomas family farm was 14 kilometres (approx 8.7 miles) to the north of the Crewe property. Asking Mr. Thomas to replay some memories of the days before and after the Crewes were found, is understandable. He was around at the time of the crime. However, the way Lovelock’s team is handling this could have been more tactful.
I am not alone is being worried about this. As you know, Chris Birt is my contact for anything Crewe Murders related. I reviewed his book “All the Commissioners Men” and he has a fascinating website dedicated to this case. Chris is worried too.
“The events of the last fortnight demonstrate that not only has the review become a re-investigation, but that the Thomases have been drawn back into the mire as a means of justifying what members of that long-suffering family now believe will be a report that says that the disgraced Hutton and Johnston got it right in 1970. To the contrary, the indisputable reality and irrefutable facts demonstrate clearly that Hutton, Johnston and other members of their close-knit team got it so dreadfully wrong. And intentionally so.”
Here is a short timeline of the case, also from the New Zealand Herald:
The Crewe murders
1970: Harvey and Jeannette Crewe (above) are murdered at their Pukekawa farmhouse. Their 18-month-old daughter Rochelle is left in her cot.
1971: Arthur Thomas is convicted of the crime. His supporters protest his innocence.
1973: Thomas is convicted again at a retrial.
1979: Thomas receives a pardon after an investigation ordered by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.
1980: A royal commission concludes that police planted a shellcase in the Crewe’s garden to frame the innocent Thomas for the murder.
2010: Rochelle Crewe asks police to re-open their investigation to find out who killed her parents.
2013: Police re-interview Thomas and other members of his family, asking for alibis.
Chris Birt has this to say: “Nothing Andy Lovelock, Gary Lendrum, Police Commissioner Peter Marshall or the procession of Assistant Commissioners being wheeled out as spokespeople for the New Zealand Police say now changes anything. The wholesale Police malpractice in the Crewe homicides investigation is out there for all to see and nothing will ever change that.
As disturbing as the latest actions of senior Police are, the fact remains that two Crewe inquiry detectives committed a host of criminal acts, a Royal Commission named and shamed them as having done so and the Court of Appeal upheld those findings in their totality. In the final analysis, that is the crux of this matter.”
Thank you, Chris for pointing out the essence of the case and to reiterate that the malpractice was and remains central to this case.