Opening statements by both parties in Peter Ellis’s appeal were delivered today in the Supreme Court.
The country’s highest court is hearing the appeal against the sexual abuse convictions of the former daycare worker, who died in September 2019.
Ellis’s attorney, Rob Harrison, told the court that the appeal would focus on four issues.
“The first terrain really looks at the testimony of the whistleblowers, the risk of contamination.
“We say that they were underestimated due to the absence of scientific knowledge at the time, and that inappropriate techniques were used to obtain the evidence from the complaining children.”
The second had to do with expert testimony from psychiatrists.
“The jury did not have the proper assistance of the expert testimony to determine if the testimony of the complainants was reliable.
“Without proper instruction from a proper expert, the jury would not be able to decipher the evidence in a way that would allow them to reach a fair decision.”
The third reason had to do with evidence that apparently showed symptoms displayed by children, in which an expert testified that it was linked to the abuse.
“We argued that the evidence really lacked scientific foundation … [and] that the advantage accorded to the prosecution by such evidence that had no scientific basis was inherently unfair and led to judicial error. “
The last ground was the appellants’ argument that the trial was inconsistent with the New Zealand Rights Act.
“The trial was unfair, due to the clearing of the charges that were brought against Mr. Ellis: not presenting all the children’s interviews to the jury and not providing the jury with all the necessary materials for the jury.”
Crown attorney John Billington QC said that parents talking to their children and giving them access to resources to help them cope was necessary and should not make their testimony less reliable.
“The need for the child to be interviewed usually only arises when some relevant information has been provided to the parents or another caregiver.
“These are young children whose parents love them and have to support them. It is unrealistic to suggest that such parent-child behavior is somehow tainting that evidence to rule it out entirely.”
image_crop: 131403: full]John Billington QC at the Supreme Court hearing.
He said previous courts had correctly found Ellis guilty based on the “totality of the evidence.”
“Because the parents were also questioned about the same material. Those who conducted the interviews were questioned about the same material. Parents [and staff] testified about the defendants’ conduct at the nursery. “
Clinical psychologists, scientists and memory experts will be heard during the course of the trial, which is scheduled for two weeks.