David Tamihere 'real dirty' on secret witnesses after snitch who helped convict him of Swedish tourists' murders revealed

Convicted murderer David Tamihere says he's "real dirty" on secret witnesses after the name was revealed today of one who helped convict him of the murders of two Swedish tourists in 1989.

Robert Conchie Harris has been known simply as 'Witness C' for nearly 30 years, his identity a secret, and last September the jailhouse 'snitch' was convicted of perjury for giving false evidence in the Tamihere case. 

Harris's explosive evidence played a major part in convincing a jury that David Tamihere was the man who killed Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin on the Coromandel Peninsula. But his testimony was found to be all lies. 

Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen
Urban Höglin and Heidi Paakkonen Source: 1 NEWS

"I've got a real dirty on these secret witnesses. You've got no idea to see how dirty I am on them," Tamihere told 1 NEWS.

"I reckon it's high time that this cellmate confession stuff gets stopped," he added.

1 NEWS can now reveal Harris is a career criminal - a double murderer who executed a couple on a remote Northland property in 1983.

Secret witness researcher Mike Kalaugher said Harris "left both their bodies lying on the ground after he had shot them so that their children would find them on their way home from school".

Harris has been twice released on parole and twice recalled back to prison, most recently for a sexual offence.

And thanks to the private prosecution of another inmate, Arthur Taylor, 69-year-old Harris is now serving another eight years for perjury.

It's just completely misleading for jurors - Mike Kalaugher, secret witness researcher

"This is a serial liar," said Richard Francois, Arthur Taylor's lawyer.

Harris claimed Tamihere told him he'd brutally murdered the Swedish couple, but twice retracted that, once on national television.

Robert Conchie Harris (wearing tie and facing camera).
Robert Conchie Harris (wearing tie and facing camera). Source: 1 NEWS

Witness C, was asked on the Holmes programme in July 1996: "Did he ever say anything to you like, 'I killed the Swedes?'"

Witness C replied: "No, he always maintained his innocence to me."

Mr Kalaugher said today: "This is the criminal who's going to tell the truth about what really happened. That's the way it's portrayed. And it's just not true. It's just completely misleading for jurors."

Mr Francois said: "He's been used by the police time and time again, and they know it."

In some countries jailhouse witnesses are banned. In Canada their credibility is first tested by an independent panel of prosecutors. In New Zealand there are no plans to change the way we use prison informants.

David Tamihere was released on parole in 2010. He could be recalled to prison at any time.

He's hoping the Government's plans to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission will one day clear him of the Swedish murders.

Robert Conchie Harris' testimony helped convict David Tamihere of the murder of two Swedish backbackers. Source: 1 NEWS


It's 'a crisis' for National as Jamie-Lee Ross launches 'the most extraordinary attack' on Simon Bridges, says Bryce Edwards

Political analyst Bryce Edwards says National MP Jami-Lee Ross' criticism of Simon Bridges has been the most extraordinary attack by an MP on their own party's leader he's seen in New Zealand politics.

Unleashing a barrage of serious allegations at a media stand-up today, Mr Ross said Mr Bridges ordered him to cover up a $100,000 donation from a Chinese businessman by splitting it up so it didn't have to be declared. 

Mr Ross even released photos to show the party leader and businessman together.  

Calling Mr Bridges a corrupt politician, the MP also claimed he's got a recorded conversation as evidence and is taking it to police tomorrow. 

What has happened may well be unprecedented. 

"It's been the most extraordinary attack on your own party's leader that I've seen in New Zealand politics," Dr Edwards told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

"This is real House of Cards stuff where you have lots of conniving and ambitious MPs that are backstabbing each other to get to the top. I think there's a mixture of knives being placed in the back and the front," he said.

The Botany MP has quit Parliament and accuses Simon Bridges of electoral fraud. Source: 1 NEWS

Before Mr Bridges announced the caucus had voted to expel Mr Ross, the MP announced he's resigning from Parliament, forcing a by-election in his Botany seat, which he'll contest as an independent.

Mr Ross' string of bombshells came a day after Mr Bridges, following an investigation, named Mr Ross as the leaker of his travel expenses.

"Jami-Lee Ross was operating in a deceptive way when he leaked this information, when he took on Simon Bridges," Dr Edwards said.

"It was later when he had nowhere else to turn, that he started to be more open about his descent against the National Party leader." 

But Dr Edwards said at the centre of all this, there's nothing.

"It's devoid of principles. There's no great ideological struggles. It really is the modern emptiness of politics." 

Jami-Lee Ross is now out of National but, as former National party whip, still very much in the know. 

Asked does Mr Ross have the power to bring down Simon Bridges, Dr Edwards said: "He's got a lot of dirt that he might be able to dish."

He said: "Jami-Lee Ross knows where all the bodies are buried. He knows what all the MPs have done wrong in the past. He knows lots of embarrassing details, not only about Simon Bridges but about other National Party insiders, other politicians."

1 NEWS’ Katie Bradford takes a look at Mr Ross’ chances of keeping his seat. Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Edwards said National will need to try and find a way to make Jami-Lee Ross "disappear".

"And by that I mean give him some sort of pay off or reward.

"This is why it's a crisis, because they might be able to get rid of Jami-Lee Ross, but he can throw a lot of dirt from outside the party," the political analyst said.

The Botany MP has been expelled from caucus, while he alleges Simon Bridges committed electoral fraud – which Mr Bridges denies. Source: Seven Sharp


Loud bangs heard at Christchurch house surrounded by armed police

Several loud bangs have been heard at a house surrounded by armed police in Christchurch tonight. 

About 20 police officers have been outside the house on Gilberthorpes Rd, Hei Hei, for several hours. 

A witness says he heard a couple of bangs - possibly stun grenades - go off in the house around 6pm and several more around 8pm.

He says officers have put gas marks on and "look like they're about to storm the house".

The witness says officers are now on the property and have been using a loudspeaker to warn whoever is inside the house that they're going to come in.

The police have said officers had a "pre-planned search warrant".

They would not comment on whether that search warrant was related to the fatal shooting of Luke Riddell at Charing Cross on Saturday. 

Police cordon on Gilberthorpes Rd, Christchurch.
Police cordon on Gilberthorpes Rd, Christchurch. Source: 1 NEWS


Wellington cycleway repair to cost $4 million more

A 1.7 kilometre cycleway in Wellington that cost about $1.8 million to build, has been estimated to cost $10 million to fix.

Wellington city councillors today asked council officers how much it would cost to change the Island Bay cycleway to appease residents.

The plan, considered by many as a compromise between residents and council, was signed off in September 2017.

It was put on hold while the council applied for $24 million of Government funding for a wider cycleway between Island Bay and the city, that would include the controversial stretch.

Councillor Nicola Young, who has consistently opposed the cycleway, asked officers at a meeting today how much it would cost to fix the 1.7km of cycleway that already existed, and was told it could be $4 million more than the $6 million put aside.

However, the council would not know for sure until the project had gone out to tender.

The estimated price tag was a very expensive fix for something that cost less that $2 million to build, councillor Andy Foster said.

"It's a very expensive remediation to spend more than four times as much as what was spent in the first place. In my books, you're not building the same thing at all."

The fix included not just resealing the road, but a high quality transformation of the stretch of road, council officers said.

- By Radio New Zealand's Laura Dooney

The community is calling for a return to the pre-cycleway design that wouldn't see carparks removed. Source: Breakfast

Serious crash causes forces closure of part of Wellington Urban Motorway

A serious crash involving a motorbike has forced the closure of the northbound lanes on Wellington's Urban Motorway.

Police say the crash was reported at 7pm and the motorway is closed northbound between the Terrace Tunnel and the Tinakori Road on-ramp.