A terminally ill former detective avoided a corruption
probe because police failed to launch a criminal investigation
while he was still alive, the brother of Arthur Thomas has
The allegation has been put before the Independent Police
Conduct Authority, which has been asked to find out why
former Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton was allowed to die
without being formally investigated on a range of criminal
Police have rejected the claim, saying it has "no basis in
Mr Hutton died in April 2013 - six months after a formal
criminal complaint was lodged by the brother of the man he
was accused of framing.
Arthur Thomas was twice convicted of the 1970 murders of
Harvey and Jeannette Crewe after an investigation led by Mr
Hutton. Mr Thomas was eventually pardoned and a Royal
Commission of Inquiry found Mr Hutton had planted the
cartridge cases used to convict him.
Police never carried out a formal inquiry into the allegation
against Mr Hutton, instead accepting legal advice saying
there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
The Herald revealed in November 2012 a complaint was finally
laid by Mr Thomas' brother Des. He made a formal request for
an investigation into the planting and other allegations of
corruption against the officer.
Des Thomas said today the complaint had been ignored by
police and was instead rolled into the long-running police
review of the case.
The review, which has entered its fourth year, was never
intended to be an investigation into the murders or police
Mr Thomas said the police should never have included his
formal criminal complaint into the review. Instead, he said,
they should have launched a criminal investigation.
He said the complaint was made at a time when the Thomas
family knew Mr Hutton was terminally ill. He said police
would also have known and believed this led to the delays.
"It is my view that the top brass within the New Zealand
police knew that it was only a matter of time before Hutton
died,'' said Mr Thomas.
He said the view was reinforced by Deputy Commissioner Mike
Bush's eulogy at Mr Hutton's funeral, in which he praised the
The eulogy, scripted by police headquarters, stated: "It is a
great tragedy and irony that a man of such character should
have been subject to devastating accusations of dishonesty.''
Mr Thomas said police were continuing to deny the 1979 pardon
of Arthur Thomas and in doing so had heaped further injury on
the family. He said the complaint was made now because the
decision were the responsibility of current police
commissioner Peter Marshall, who retires this year.
A spokeswoman for the IPCA confirmed today a complaint had
been received and was being assessed for further action.
In a statement later, police said they "absolutely" rejected
assertions that police waited for the death of former
Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton in relation to the Crewe
"This has no basis in truth. The matters raised by Mr Des
Thomas in his complaint of October 2012 are being considered
by the review team led by Detective Superintendent Andy
The three-year timeframe for the review reflected thousands
of hours of staff time, 90,000 pages of documentation
considered and interviews with people who may have relevant
"The review is being finalised at the moment and it is
intended that its findings will be made public in the first
half of this year. Naturally police will assist the IPCA with
any aspect of its investigation into the complaint laid by Mr