The passing of Peter Ellis


Once upon a time, the value of justice was ‘better 10 guilty people walk free than one innocent person jailed’. A media fixated on crime porn headlines and politicians happy to ratchet up our lynch mob vengence changed that value, warped that value into something as damaged as the criminals committing the crimes.

The horrific case of Peter Ellis, the speaking tours of evangelical Christians warning of satanic rituals just before he was accused, the appalling behaviour of Senior Officers having relationships with some of the solo mothers during the investigation, the terrible quality of evidence taken from children, the circumstantial nature of the entire case, the selective evidence shown the jury, the paying of ACC payments to anyone who had an allegation – the entire sorry episode is a stain on NZ justice and for Peter Ellis to die before he got to challenge this deeply flawed case is a true tragedy of justice.

We might attempt to console ourselves that such a moral panic could never take place today, but  I fear the new Millennial culture that asserts allegation is the new evidential threshold and due process a white male privilege creates a court system more thirsty for miscarriages of justice than ever before.


  1. Sad news. Educated at Motueka High, Peter was a vivacious, charming young man, very comfortable in the company of women. This possibly led to the predicament which befell him.

  2. Whatever vendetta these cruel people had against Peter Ellis totally destroyed this man and his family and was ugly too watch.

    It showed how evil this country can be in dispensing vigilante justice.

    Offences against children must always be punished when it is clear that wrong doing has occurred but as more of this case came too light over time it was clear that something was seriously amiss in this case against Ellis.

    I hope that his pursuit of justice and clearing his name will not die with him.

    That would be the worst outcome of all in this whole sickening case.

    • Totally agree mosa, Peter’s case would have to rate as one of the most disgusting miscarriages of “justice” in nzilds history. Let us also not forget the large amounts of money payed out by acc to family’s whose children were not even complainants in the case, plus the very dodgy plods involved. Unfortunately i have very little confidence in the justice system in nz since the right of appeal to the privy council was abolished. In a court system where the judges hearing the appeals probably went to law school with the people whose judgements they are reviewing, who is going to rule that good old jim or jane got it completely wrong? For what it is worth, i also hope that the case continues.

  3. Our justice system needs a complete overhaul the Peter Ellis situation was a witch hunt and our country should be ashamed as with Teina Pora & God knows how many others sit in our prisons that maybe innocent.
    I see a recent case where a man shot his wife and he got only 10 years this is wrong in 2003 it was made mandatory for a murderer to serve 10 years minimum so what sort of message does this send and I wonder if he was brown how long would he have got as we know the justice system is racist.

  4. Martyn: “….the entire sorry episode is a stain on NZ justice….”

    That it is. I was deeply saddened to hear that Ellis had died; I’d hoped against hope that he’d have his name cleared before this.

    At the time of his trial – and his supposed crimes – we were living in ChCh. Extended family used the Civic Creche; their account of patterns of use, and of how the Creche operated, cast serious doubt on the credibility of claims about what Ellis was supposed to have done. Put simply, the events in question couldn’t have happened in the way it was alleged. He couldn’t have done any of it without the awareness and active connivance of his female colleagues; yet all charges against them were dropped. Which, I’d add, tells all of us everything we need to know about the motivations underpinning this case.

    So: we and many other people simply didn’t believe the evidence brought to the court in the depositions hearing, or the truncated version eventually presented at trial; we expected the jury to reach a similar conclusion, and we were astonished when it found him guilty.

    “…the speaking tours of evangelical Christians warning of satanic rituals…”

    Heh! Oh yes, I remember the hysteria; such twaddle even percolated into the PHA conferences to which I used to go in those days. I vividly recall a workshop, in which an earnest young researcher attempted to convince their audience that such ghastly crimes were real. We rolled our eyes at it, and at the supporting evidence presented.

    “We might attempt to console ourselves that such a moral panic could never take place today, but I fear the new Millennial culture that asserts allegation is the new evidential threshold and due process a white male privilege creates a court system more thirsty for miscarriages of justice than ever before.”

    You’ve nailed it here. Never say never again: the price of justice is eternal vigilance.

  5. Karen Zelas, the principle psychologist employed by the Crown to interview the children was subsequently blamed for causing a miscarriage of justice in another sex-abuse case.
    She was found by the Court of Appeal to have “gratuitously” exceeded the scope of permissible expert opinion.
    In other words, she got the result the Crown wanted by misleading the court, perverting the course of justice and perjury.
    I want to know why this woman has been allowed to get away with these crimes.
    Her actions saw an innocent man wrongfully convicted of heinous crimes against children and imprisoned for an not unsubstantial period of time.
    Why hasn’t she been charged accordingly and hauled in front of the courts?
    At the very least she is guilty of professional misconduct and the subsequent deprivation of liberty of another human being.
    Something else which goes unanswered is why the women that worked at the crèche, who were all initially charged alongside Peter, were suddenly allowed to walk free with all charges dropped whereas the Crown pursued Peter until the bitter end?
    There was a serious miscarriage of justice in Peter’s case as well – yet nothing has ever been done about it and the perpetrator of this has herself walked free.
    If anyone deserved to be in jail for a very long period (much longer than Peter served) it is her.

  6. Very sad that he died without his conviction being quashed. I followed the case at the time and the accusations were too fantastic to be true. Children, goaded by adults, painted him as the sort of monster only a child’s mind could create. Had the accusations been less horrific and kids not been involved, the portrayals of Ellis and his colleagues were so incredible as to be laughable. I hope some people in this country now are racked by the most dreadful feelings of guilt that never leave them. A life destroyed for absolutely no reason. Disgusting.

    • Peace did not come to Peter.

      Peace is not deserved by the Police who ruthlessly perused this fiasco.

      There are many cases where achieving a conviction is a high priority bypassing justice, a few become high profile.
      I personally know of two cases where evidence was planted to achieve a conviction.
      $20 grand later the family of one wrongly convicted victim, pawned all they could and won an appeal to get a son released from months of jail that sparked depression and ACC would not help.
      Jail can be a very damaging experience life changing for many..

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