What’s Your Verdict? takes four of New Zealand’s most notorious and controversial crime cases and re-examines the evidence with a new hand-picked jury. In the Gibson Group’s innovative series, the shows follow a similar format to the popular one-off Inside NZ documentary What’s Your Verdict? Mark Lundy – the highest rating TV3 documentary of 2005. This new series features cases of a similar underlying importance to the New Zealand justice system.

This series gives viewers insight into who the jury trusts most: Police? Scientists? The accused? Our lawyers present both sides of the case including reconstructions of the crime, exhibits, photos and film archive. The documentaries examine the cases – as well as the process by which a verdict is reached in New Zealand.

Crime and justice are a critical source of New Zealand stories – the treatment of an accused person by police, the media and the courts tells us a great deal about the state of the nation. Our collective honesty, integrity and prejudices are never more exposed than during a big trial.

And what remains the cornerstone of our criminal justice system is the jury – 12 ordinary people called upon to decide guilt or innocence. Behind closed doors they debate the evidence and draw on their conscience to deliver a verdict.

What really goes on in the jury room?
What’s your verdict?

The cases:

What’s Your Verdict? – David Tamihere
In April 1989, Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen vanished in the dense Coromandel bush. Nearly two years later David Tamihere – a man who admitted stealing the Swedes’ car – was convicted of their murders. At the time of Tamihere’s trial, the bodies were not found. Was David Tamihere a scapegoat or a murderer? In What’s Your Verdict? – David Tamihere a new jury assesses the evidence given in this high profile double homicide and delivers its verdict on whether justice was done.

What’s Your Verdict? – Peter Ellis
Following complaints about Peter Ellis from parents of children at Christchurch’s Civic Child Care Centre, police launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in 1991.  Four months later, Peter Ellis and four of his female co-workers were arrested on multiple charges.

The charges against the other creche workers were eventually dropped, but despite his strenuous denials and questions about the reliability of the children’s evidence, Ellis was found guilty on 16 counts of abuse and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Was the evidence contaminated or did Peter Ellis get a fair trial? In What’s Your Verdict? – Peter Ellis a new jury assesses the evidence given in this high profile child abuse case and delivers its verdict on whether justice was done.

What’s Your Verdict? – Kevin Harmer
On October 4th, 1999, the rural community of Dunsandel was shaken by the news that a freak farm accident had claimed the life of Jill Thomas, the second wife of Selwyn District Council manager Kevin Harmer.

Jill Thomas’s Land Rover had been engulfed by flames on the couple’s farm in the early evening of October 4th.  Harmer claimed the fire was an accident – but a year later, after police grew increasingly suspicious about the fire and Harmer’s relationship with a high-priced escort, he was charged with his wife’s murder. But was he a murderer – or just an adulterer? In What’s Your Verdict? – Kevin Harmer a new jury assesses the evidence given in this high profile case and delivers its verdict on whether justice was done.

What’s Your Verdict? – Timothy Taylor
On February 6th 2000, a young woman’s half-clothed body was found by fishermen in the Porter River in Canterbury. Twenty-year-old, Lisa Blakie, had been stabbed, strangled and possibly sexually assaulted. Her body, weighed down by a 104kg boulder, was found lying face down in the river, near a layby beside the Arthur’s Pass highway.

Despite Blakie’s connection to an underworld of gangs, drugs and prostitution, police turned their investigations to a man who picked her up while she was hitchhiking. But was he really a murderer or did he just pick up the wrong girl at the wrong time? In What’s Your Verdict? – Timothy Taylor, a new jury assesses the evidence given and delivers its verdict on whether justice was done.

Cast and Crew

Presented by renowned criminal barristers Greg King and Sandy Baigent

Technical Specifications:

Production year: 2006

Title: What's Your Verdict?

Category: Documentary / Popular Factual

Commissioning Broadcaster: TV3 (for Inside NZ)

Producer: Alex Clark

Directors: Michael Huddleston and Myles Thomas

Description: 4 x 45 mins

Outline: What happens when 12 ordinary people are called on to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused? What influences their decisions? What happens behind the closed doors of the jury room?

Production year: 2005

Title: What's Your Verdict? Mark Lundy

Producers: Gary Scott / Bryan Bruce (EP)

Director: Peter Bell

Description: 1 x 45 mins

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