Peter Ellis case NZ's biggest miscarriage of justice - Simon Bridges

The case of convicted child molester Peter Ellis is "the biggest miscarriage of justice in this country," opposition leader Simon Bridges says.

"When you look at it, you see irregularities in terms of the investigation, you see some strange allegations being made and you also see something like the sense of a witch-hunt," Mr Bridges said.

Mr Ellis was found guilty of 16 sexual offences and sentenced to 10 years in jail in 1993.

Peter Ellis (ONE News)

He maintains his innocence.

Lawyer Nigel Hampton QC says the case is "a festering ulcer on the face of New Zealand justice".

"It's continuing and it shouldn't be there. It's almost 30 years now, for goodness sake," he said.

In 2015, the then National government rejected a request for a commission of inquiry into the case - and Mr Bridges says he still believes it's not needed.

However, Mr Hampton disagrees, saying Mr Ellis' case is the sort which needs to be taken to a criminal cases review commission.

"He hasn't got a white knight with deep pockets that can keep funding things. There are volunteers trying to work on his case," Mr Hampton said.

Justice Minister Andrew Little agrees, saying, "It's not good enough just to say there's been this massive miscarriage [of justice] and nothing should be done about it".

"That is the reason why we are setting up a criminal cases review commission," Mr Little said.

The commission would review cases and send them back to court if it finds concerns about the verdict, and Mr Little hopes to have a bill before Parliament by the end of the year - and passed by the middle of next year.

"We have to have safety valves to make sure that people, in the end, do get justice or the closest thing to it," Mr Little said.

Mr Bridges said: "I don't think we need another quango. I think, actually, anything a quango can do, we already, in New Zealand, have the powers to do."

But Mr Hampton said he "can think of three or four [cases] outside of Ellis that I'm looking at at the present time, wearing another hat."

For those people, and Mr Ellis, a commission can't come fast enough.

The National leader doesn't think a criminal cases review commission needs to be established.



Chief coroner speaks out as cot deaths rise: 'Every sleep should be a safe sleep'

The rate of sudden unexplained death in infants (SUDI) has been steadily rising in New Zealand, despite major efforts to reduce it.

Coroners' figures show there were 51 cases of SUDI last year, up from a low of 42 in 2012.

Now, it's prompted Chief Coroner Judge Marshall to speak out, saying many of the deaths are preventable.

"It's heartbreaking," Judge Marshall said.

"As coroners, we don't like to see these preventable deaths coming across our desks time after time, and we're talking about vulnerable babies. The message is quite simple – every sleep should be a safe sleep."

The Shoemark family, who lost baby Addison at just four month old, hopes the coroner speaking out will prevent other families from going through the "absolute hell" they've been through.

Craig Shoemark says: "If we can find a solution to what is still a problem for 50 families every year - to stop those 50 families going through the absolute hell of losing a baby - then it's worth it".

The numbers had previously been trending downwards, after The New Zealand Cot Death Study in the 90s helped identify several risk factors.

They include co-sleeping with the baby, the baby's sleeping position, smoking while pregnant, and the temperature during sleep.

"The fact that we had 51 deaths last year indicates that the message isn't getting through."

The Ministry of Health says it's recently started working with the Ministry of Justice to better track SUDI incidents as part of a national SUDI prevention programme launched in August last year.

The goal is to reduce SUDI rate to 0.1 per 1000 babies born by 2025.

The current rate is about 0.7 per 1000 babies born.

As part of the programme, $3.3 million goes to DHBs each year to support SUDI prevention activities, such as providing safe sleeping devices like PepiPods and Wahakura.

However, NZ College of Midwives advisor Jacqui Anderson is concerned that the safe sleeping devices are not "universally accessible for everybody in every area".

"I think that's something that's really important for the Ministry of Health to be considering," Ms Anderson said.

Hāpai te Hauora, the national SUDI prevention coordination centre, says it's working to better connect DHBs to Wahakura weavers to ensure the devices are available to more families.

Fay Selby-Law, the general manager for SUDI Prevention, says, "If they've got their Wahakura with them, and they know to keep baby sleeping face up - face clear in that Wahakura - then baby will be safe".

Ms Selby-Law believes the increase in deaths is also down to socio-economic factors, as some parents are unable to afford a cot or bassinet.

The trend is so concerning that, in a rare move, the chief coroner is speaking out, with a plea to parents. Source: 1 NEWS

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Police investigating whether Wellington sex assaults linked to serial attacker

Wellington police are investigating whether sex assaults in the city are linked to a serial attacker.

The assaults have occurred over several years, and police say they have a team of officers looking to establish if they were all connected.

They are asking any members of the public who have been sexually assaulted in the capital to report the incident to police.

Wellington Police are investigating whether assaults in the city over several years were connected.