Arthur Allan Thomas' family (above, from left), Des Thomas,
Margaret Stuckey (nee Thomas) and brother-in-law Buster
Stuckey. Photo: NZ Herald/Brett Phibbs
"Stinkin' bastards," says Des Thomas, leafing through the
police report into the murders that have consumed his family's
life for 44 years. "Jeannette and Harvey Crewe were brutally
murdered and they're not interested."
Instead, he said, police were more interested in shoring up
the findings of an inquiry officers are finally admitting was
"They haven't moved on from 1970," he said of the review,
which has left the family deeply dissatisfied.
In doing so, it made everyone linked to the farm at the time
of the murders a suspect, he said.
"They're picking out some family member. At this stage we
need a full public inquiry with someone who is willing to
listen to the Thomas family.
"We feel cheated. How can it be over when there's a murderer
running around? Surely Rochelle Crewe would be better off
knowing who killed her parents. That's what we want too.
"All we want is justice but we don't know who we're going to
get it from."
He said the family had evidence that police never sought, and
had not been considered in the review. Their frustration is
compounded by a determination that a local man should be
investigated for the murders - a link dismissed by the police
in the review as having no "credible evidence" to warrant an
The finding that inquiry head Detective Inspector Bruce
Hutton likely planted evidence was the closest police had
come to confirming the royal commission of inquiry findings
"We've been expecting it for 40 years," said Mr Thomas, who
believed police should have prosecuted Mr Hutton before he
He said he couldn't accept an apology from Commissioner Mike
Bush, who spoke of Mr Hutton's "great character" at his
funeral last year.
For Arthur Thomas' sister, Margaret Stuckey, the inquiry was
aimed at clearing Rochelle Crewe's grandfather Len Demler.
"They've taken care of what Rochelle wanted - she didn't want
any member of her family accused. That doesn't mean the case
has been solved. Does Rochelle want to know who murdered her
parents? I think she just wanted her family exonerated.
"We can say Arthur Thomas never did it and no member of the
Thomas family did it."
Mrs Stuckey said she wanted to know why the review wasn't
done immediately after the royal commission of inquiry in
"If they thought the Thomas case was going to die today,
that's not going to be the case. As far as we are concerned,
the battle carries on."
Police hinted at the findings when they showed an intense
interest in the family last year, she said.
"When they came to see us, they said all the evidence pointed
back to the Thomas farm, but the milkman or the postman or
anyone could have done it."
The review stated Arthur Thomas had two alibis - from his
former wife Vivien and cousin Peter - which had never been
challenged by other evidence.
It also said the evidence pointed to the Thomas farm but "the
number of persons who had potential access to these items is
One Thomas brother had surrendered a rifle for testing.
Others, including the Stuckeys, were asked for alibis. When
the Stuckeys provided details, decades of mistrust in the
police handling of the Crewe inquiry led them to seek a
lawyer to pass along the information.
Other family members secretly recorded interviews carried out
by detectives so they would have their own record.
Said Buster Stuckey: "It hasn't cleared us. If anything it
has put more doubt over us. It's just a cover-up. We want the
truth. Who killed the Crewes?"
The Hutton family had little to say about the findings
yesterday. Ivy Hutton, who married Mr Hutton after the Crewe
investigation had passed, described criticism of her late
husband as "very hurtful" but said he only rarely spoke of
Police review into the Crewe murders
1 No new evidence came to light to lead police to a culprit.
But they were able to rule out Jeanette Crewe's father Len
Demler - prime suspect in the early stages of the
investigation, her sister Heather Souter and local farmer
2 The review identified a "distinct possibility" that Exhibit
350 - a brass .22 cartridge case - may have been fabricated
evidence, and if so, would have been planted by a police
officer. The cartridge case was a key factor in convicting
Arthur Allan Thomas of the murders.
3 Police stood by the view of former Solicitor-General Paul
Neazor who in 1981 said there was insufficient evidence to
implicate a police officer in corruption. But David Jones,
QC, concluded there was enough evidence to charge former
investigation head Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton with
attempting to pervert the course of justice.
4 Police found significant evidential links with the Thomas
farm: The wire found around Harvey Crewe's body, the axle
holding him submerged in the Waikato River and the murder
weapon were all believed to be from the premises.
5 It was unlikely someone fed the Crewes' daughter Rochelle,
then 18-months-old, for five days after the murders took
place, the review said.
6 Police detailed numerous shortcomings by the original
investigating team. "Exhibit management, handling and
documentation ... lacked thoroughness and potentially
compromised the integrity of the investigation," the report
said. Evidence was lost, large amounts were destroyed and
many people who should have been questioned were not.
7 After describing Hutton's integrity as "beyond reproach" in
a eulogy, police Commissioner Mike Bush said the review's
findings added to his "deep sense of regret at having agreed
to speak at the funeral". He also apologised to Rochelle
Crewe for police not instigating the review sooner after
Thomas' 1979 pardon.
8 Three previous adverse events in the Crewe's lives were
overlooked: a burglary in 1967, a house fire in 1968 and a
hay barn fire in 1969. The report said uncovering who was
responsible was given insufficient priority at the time.
9 Arthur Allan Thomas told police through Peter Williams, QC,
- the lawyer who had him vindicated - that he declined to
participate in the review. Yesterday, Deputy Commissioner
Grant Nicholls said the "door was open" to speak to Thomas
but he did not apologise.
10 The review into the case has cost $400,000 to date and
amassed more than 92,000 pages of work, which resulted in the
publication of the 328-page report.