Haig to seek review of his case

Rex Haig.
Rex Haig.
A report suggesting David Bain should be compensated for wrongful imprisonment gives encouragement to Otago man Rex Haig, who had his murder conviction quashed in 2006 after serving 10 years in jail.

Mr Haig (65) has been waiting to hear the opinion of retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie in relation to Mr Bain's claim for wrongful imprisonment, before progressing his own legal bid for compensation.

He told the Otago Daily Times his case was stronger than Mr Bain's, and yesterday released a document in which legal professor Philip Joseph detailed the merits of his case.

Mr Haig said he would now seek a judicial review of the report by Robert Fisher QC, which was the basis of the decision by former justice minister Simon Power to decline his initial application for compensation in 2009.

He doubted whether he would be awarded compensation by the Government, but wanted to clear his name and receive acknowledgement of his right to seek compensation.

Mr Haig said he was disgusted by the Ministry of Justice and Crown Law Office in respect of his case, which was why he had "fought so ferociously" for vindication.

"I just want them to admit that there has been a mistake. I don't really care if I get any money out if it," he said.

He doubted Mr Bain would receive any compensation from the Government because it was "against their religion".

Mr Haig said it was important an independent person reviewed his case, as Mr Fisher was appointed by the Justice Ministry.

Mr Fisher was tasked with reporting whether, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Haig was innocent in respect of Mark Roderique's murder.

He decided Mr Haig was complicit in the act of murder and/or of concealing the crime, and was guilty either as principal or accessory.

The December 2010 report by Prof Joseph, a School of Law professor at the University of Canterbury, criticised Mr Fisher's findings as legally and factually baseless.

"Fisher's finding of probable guilt was based on a hypothesis that was entirely novel and untested. Furthermore, Haig had no opportunity to rebut or challenge the hypothesis," Prof Joseph said.

Mr Fisher went outside the parameters of the initial Crown and defence cases. He played no part in the proceedings leading to Mr Haig's conviction or the subsequent quashing of it, did not personally interview witnesses, was not involved in gathering evidence and did not attend the trial, he said.

"He was, for all intents and purposes, a casual bystander. Yet Fisher could be confident that he, and only he, really knew what happened on the boat when Roderique was murdered. Such prescience is truly admirable," Prof Joseph said.

He found three grounds on which Mr Haig could legally challenge Mr Fisher's report and seek a judicial review.

Mr Haig said he expected the proceedings to take "quite some time" and was not relying on a future payout.

Now semi-retired, he recently returned to Otago from Christchurch to be closer to family.

Mr Haig was convicted in 1995 of Mr Roderique's murder.

Both men were on Mr Haig's fishing boat off the West Coast with Tony Sewell and Mr Haig's nephew David Hogan.

Mr Hogan was granted immunity from prosecution and testified against Mr Haig.

But after several people reported that Mr Hogan had confessed to the murder, Mr Haig's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal, which permanently stayed the proceedings against him. It ruled that neither an acquittal nor a retrial was appropriate.

rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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