Collection

Controversial Crime Stories

Curated by NZ On Screen team

The Crewe murders marked New Zealand's first controversial court case to be played out in the television age. Since then other controversial cases have been the subject of high profile documentaries and dramas. This collection includes Relative Guilt, about the David Wayne Tamihere case, a spirited talk on the David Bain case, and Scott Watson documentary Murder on the Blade?. The latter was directed by Keith Hunter, a leading “miscarriage of justice” filmmaker. Plus watch an excerpt from Bloodlines, and go behind the scenes on film Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

Letter for Hope

Short Film, 2013 (Full Length)

Short film Letter for Hope is about a chance encounter of the best kind, at a point when there isn't much hope around. April Phillips (who also wrote the script) plays Jane, who must face the revelation that her pregnancy will be terminal. While trying to process the news, she encounters an old man (veteran actor Don Langridge) whose kindness and humanity will help in surprising ways. The self-funded short competed at multiple film festivals in the United States, and won an Honourable Mention at the 2014 Sarasota Film Festival.

Murder on the Blade?

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

Subtitled A Journalist's View, this award-winning documentary makes the case that Scott Watson shouldn't have been imprisoned for murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope — because he couldn't have done it. Returning to Endeavour Inlet, veteran director Keith Hunter talks to witnesses, and argues the prosecution fumbled vital details of the murderer's yacht and description, then advanced a new theory without evidence to back it. Hunter went on to write 2007 book Trial by Trickery, further critiquing what he calls “New Zealand's most blatantly dishonest prosecution”.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Film, 1980 (Trailer)

Beyond Reasonable Doubt reconstructs the events surrounding a notorious New Zealand miscarriage of justice. Farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe. Directed by John Laing, and starring Australian John Hargreaves (as Thomas) and Englishman David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella), the drama  benefitted from immense public interest in the case. Thomas was pardoned while the film was in pre-production, and he saw some scenes being made. It became New Zealand's most successful film until Goodbye Pork Pie in 1981.

Keith Hunter

Director

Keith Hunter is an award-winning writer and documentary maker, known for his investigations into miscarriages of justice. His screen credits include The Remand of Ivan Curry, Out of the Dark, Staunch, and award-winner Murder on the Blade?, about the Scott Watson case. Hunter has also directed drama and comedy on shows such as Mortimer's Patch and Letter to Blanchy.

Claire Chitham

Actor

Claire Chitham’s eight years playing Shortland Street receptionist Waverley Wilson made her one of the show’s longest-serving castmembers to date, as well as one of the most popular. She went on to a memorable role as gang girl Aurora Bay in Outrageous Fortune and won an NZ Screen Award for her work in Interrogation.

Josh Thomson

Actor, Director, Editor

Tongan-Kiwi comedian Josh Thomson won attention after starring in 48 Hour short films Only Son and Brown Peril. Along with acting (Hounds) and appearances on comedy show 7 Days, Thomson is also an editor and director. In 2017 he starred in movie Gary of the Pacific, as a hapless real estate agent turned Pacific Island chief. The same year, he joined Three's primetime news show The Project

Laura Hill

Actor

During seven years playing Shortland Street party girl Toni Warner, Laura Hill survived miscarriage, murder attempts and romance with Chris and Guy Warner, before death from kidney failure in mid 2008. Hill, who moved to NZ aged five, is daughter of UK actor Helena Ross. At Victoria University she got first class honours in English literature; her many stage roles include starring as Jane Eyre at Dunedin's Fortune Theatre.

Paula Penfold

Journalist, Producer

As a reporter for TV3 on 60 Minutes, 3rd Degree, and 3D, investigative journalist Paula Penfold covered some of the country’s biggest stories. After the cancellation of 3D in late 2015, Penfold joined Fairfax Media, alongside her 3D colleagues Eugene Bingham and Toby Longbottom.

Diane Musgrave

Producer, Director

Musgrave is a producer, director and researcher with over 50 credits to her name, over 25 years in television. Musgrave’s research subjects have ranged from Gallipoli to Ivan Curry to the America’s Cup, and she has produced high profile current affairs reports on Māori leadership, the Peter Ellis creche case and beaten baby James Whakaruru. She is now senior lecturer in Communication Studies at AUT.