After 36 years of fighting to clear his name, Alan Hall has had his murder conviction overturned by the Supreme Court after an extraordinary admission from the Crown that he was wrongfully convicted.
Hall, who is now 60 years old, wrongfully spent 19 years in prison for the 1985 murder of Arthur Easton in Papakura, South Auckland.
It’s one of New Zealand’s worst miscarriages of justice, and Hall was in court today with family to hear the judgement exonerating him.
Hall told 1News he’s not angry but wants answers.
“I want them to investigate those officers that [were] on this case. I’d like to see them charged with conspiracy to perverting the course of justice. And there’s one ex-cop said that I confessed to him that I committed a murder, I didn’t. This is how far they go to framing me for murder,” Hall said.
His brother, Geoff Hall said Wednesday's result was a win not just for the family but for the nation.
“We fought against injustice and we won today. Our story is told, so we’re very proud of Alan.”
Alan Hall was 23 years old when he was convicted of the murder. He admitted owning a beanie and bayonet similar to ones found at the murder scene. But at trial the court didn’t get the full picture.
A witness told police he saw a powerfully-built six-foot Māori man fleeing the scene. But Hall is a five-foot-seven slightly-built pakeha.
The description of the man’s ethnicity was removed from the witness statement, and not presented to the court or Hall’s lawyer.
The Crown now accepts the prosecution deliberately failed to disclose the full statement. It acknowledges “the unacceptable truth” that an “unanswerable cause of miscarriage” occurred.
Hall’s lawyer Nick Chisnall called the prosecution’s actions “deceitful” and said there was no starker example of a trial gone wrong.
Unusually for an appeal, this one wasn’t based on any fresh evidence. In fact, the state had known since 1988 that the witness statement was doctored. On Wednesday, the Crown finally acknowledge the harm done by keeping it hidden.
“That failure led to a miscarriage of justice,” said crown solicitor Madeline Laracy.
During the police investigation, officers considered Hall to be intellectually disabled but carried out lengthy interviews, including one that went for 15 hours. In 2019, Hall was diagnosed with autism, which he said “explained a lot” from his childhood.
Applying for compensation from the Government is the next step for Hall. He could get $150,000 for each of the 19 years he was in prison, then there’s payment for the 17 years he was on parole.
“We’re confident it will be New Zealand’s most significant pay out, if the Minister of Justice accepts Alan is innocent on the balance of probabilities. We are confident he will agree with us that it is,” said Chisnall.
But this isn’t case closed. There are still many unanswered questions, like who changed the statement and will they be held to account.
Tim McKinnel, a private investigator on the case, urged those in power in initiate inquires.
“To try and understand what happened and how it happened, and how it was able to endure for so long. I think everybody deserves those answers,” said McKinnel.