Bouwer case revisited

The Dunedin detective sergeant depicted in a television drama about the investigation of a once-respected medical figure who poisoned his wife to death, says he does not want to watch it.

Bloodlines depicts the police and medical investigation key to the arrest and conviction of Colin Bouwer, former head of psychological medicine in Dunedin.

Bouwer was sentenced to prison with 13 years non-parole in 2001 for murdering his wife, Annette, by administering prescription drugs which mimicked the symptoms of a rare tumour.

From late September 1999, until her death at the couple's St Clair home on January 5, 2000, Bouwer administered a fatal combination of sedatives and hypoglycaemia-inducing drugs.

Detective Sergeant Brett Roberts said he would not watch the programme because producers typically used "journalistic licence" in portraying real-life events.

While Bloodlines' producers had followed correct protocol in gaining the permission to depict key players, omissions and even "glaring errors" were common when events were translated on screen.

Det Sgt Roberts was bemused by his portrayal in the show's promotional material as central to establishing Bouwer's guilt, saying it involved the skills of many police officers, sometimes as many as 30 at a time.

He suggested he was depicted as central to the case because he was the file manager and first detective assigned.

He did not play a particular role in bringing the murderer to justice, he said.

Det Sgt Roberts is billed by programme-makers as underestimated by the "arrogant" Bouwer, who did not realise who he was dealing with.

Det Sgt Roberts laughed heartily when told the actor playing him, Will Hall, was told to think of unconventional TV detective Columbo to help his portrayal.

Hall (30) told Signal his character drives the plot in the second half of the drama.

He is shown working closely with Dr Andrew Bowers, who ordered a crucial postmortem for his patient, which was a vital step in bringing the crime to police attention.

Bloodlines focuses on the events leading up to Bouwer's arrest and trial, rather than the trial itself, Hall said.

Hall said he tried to portray Det Sgt Roberts' commitment to his job and the fact he was a lot smarter than he appeared.

Hall, originally from Banks Peninsula and now based in Auckland, said he was in Australia during the Bouwer case, and was largely unaware of the case, but had researched the real-life events.

The cast filmed for three days in Dunedin in March, and it was a shame the southern scenes were at the end of the shoot, he said.

Acting in the city where the events took place helped the actors get a feel for them, he said.

• Bloodlines screens on Thursday at 8.30pm on TV One.


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