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David Harvey Crewe (20 October 1941 – c.17 June 1970), known as Harvey, and Jeannette Lenore Crewe (6 February 1940 – c.17 June 1970) were a New Zealand farming couple (married 18 June 1966 in Auckland) who were murdered on 17 June 1970. Police misconduct in the investigation led to the country’s most notorious case of wrongful conviction. A Royal Commission determined that the miscarriage of justice stemmed from key evidence having been fabricated by a detective. No one was ever charged with planting the evidence. In 2014 an official review discounted the idea that Jannette’s late father may have been the killer, but made no new suggestions for who was. The murders remain unsolved


Background

In 1970, the Crewes and their infant daughter lived on their farm at Pukekawa, Lower Waikato, Jannette was afraid to be in the house without her husband after arson attacks including one in which clothes were set on fire in a bedroom. Janette's father, Lenard W. Demler (died 4 November 1992), lived alone on the neighbouring farm. [1] Jannett ‘s sister had been cut from the will of their wealthy mother, and in retaliation Demler had removed Jannette as a beneficiary of his own will.[2] Jannete's mother had then re-wrote her will to bequeath Jannette a half share in the farm Demler lived on.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).

The balance of medical opinion was an infant could not have survived without fluids for five days. Although the Crewes 18 month old daughter had tissue loss suggesting she may not have eaten anything between the 17 June and 22 June, doctors said the degree to which she retained water during treatment indicated that she had not ingested fluids for at most 48 hours before she was found. [3]

Both victims had been shot dead with a .22 caliber firearm; Jannette had broken facial bones from being struck with a blunt instrument. Demler had been considered a suspect due to his lack of alibi and Jannette’s blood being found in his car, but the brutality of the assault on her, and the lead investigators belief that she had been raped, led to doubts that her father was involved. [4]

On the basis that the murderer might have used a legitimately held gun, police collected and test-fired 64 registered .22 firearms,, 3% of the total in the Pukekawa area. Forensic scientist Dr D.F. Nelson of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research reported a rifle could not be eliminated as the murder weapon; it has never been claimed that testing established that the rifle had been used to shoot the Crewes. <ref>Beyond Reasonable doubt?, (2014) David In 2014 an official review of the case said that evidence available in the murder of the Crewes was inconclusive, and it was unlikely that the case could now be solved.. The review acknowledged that a key prosecution exhibit in the trials had been fabricated by detectives, but did not appear to accept that they could have been on the wrong track; the review implied that the Crewes’ then-18 month old daughter had not ingested any fluids between 17 June and 22 June, and said a witness had been mistaken in thinking he had had seen a woman on the farm during that period. The review ruled out Demler having been the killer.

  1. ^ Beyond Reasonable doubt?, (2014) David Yallop
  2. ^ Justice Denied: Extraordinary miscarriages of justice, James Morton 2015
  3. ^ Beyond Reasonable doubt?, (2014) David Yallop
  4. ^ Beyond Reasonable doubt?, (2014) David Yallop