Real Crime

9:30pm Tuesday, July 20 on TV One

Tonight’s Real Crime documentary, Fatal Attraction, examines the most extraordinary cases when exotic pets attack their owners, and turn them from friend to prey. Tonight’s show (at 9.30pm on TV ONE) focuses on reptiles, looking at why people bring them into their homes, how the relationships develop and why, ultimately, pets like these attack.

Speaking to witnesses, experts and in some cases, survivors, Real Crime: Fatal Attraction explores the psychology of these fatal attractions and looks at the chain of events before, during and after the attacks. Investigating the motives, the films unlock what triggered the animals and the choices people made that determined their fate.

Are these attacks an expression of the animals’ true nature or the result of the artificial environment and relationships created by humans? Is it possible to keep a large predator as a pet? And can man and animal ever live together without the threat of violence hanging over them?

9:30pm Tuesday, July 13 on TV One

In most places death has no schedule, but in Huntsville, Texas, an average of 16 people per year are scheduled to be executed by lethal injection. Real Crime: Inside Death Row interviews three inmates as their dates of execution draw near, and follows the stories of their families and loved ones as they deal with death firsthand.

The quiet town of Huntsville is home to the busiest death chamber in the United States. Between 1982 and 2008 Texas executed 423 individuals – more than any other state. And all of those executions took place in the death chamber in Huntsville.

Many Huntsville locals have become so accustomed to the idea of executions taking place in the town, they don’t even blink an eye on sight of a police car or cameraman. One resident waitress says, “we’ll see the news crews sometimes and be like, ‘oh, I didn’t know they were executing anybody tonight’, and then just go on serving the pepper-fried steak.”

For 22 hours a day, men on Texas’ Death Row live, eat and pray in isolated cells roughly the size of a normal bathroom. For an average of just over 10 years – waiting until their appeals run out – these men are devoid of any human contact. They live behind glass and metal – and can touch no other living soul until the day they are led from their boxes, taken on a drive and strapped to a gurney in Huntsville.

One of the men featured is Willie Pondexter, a man who is on death row for a crime he committed when he was 19 years old – the murder of 85-year-old oil heiress and philanthropist Martha Lennox.

Although Pondexter has been sentenced to death, his attitude toward the penalty is not what you would expect. “I know it may sound crazy, but I think the death penalty is justified. When you got child rapers and serial killers who show lack of humanity, lack of love for the human race and stuff like that, I believe this is designed for them,” he says.

However, Pondexter was second to shoot Lennox after she was dead and is adamant he has been wrongly convicted. “I was wrong for what I did; I’d be the first to admit that. But I did not kill her. I did not kill Ms Martha Lennox,” he says.

Using his upbringing as a reason for his crime, Pondexter attempts to justify his actions: “The way I grew up, the mentality I was raised under, I wasn’t taught to use my mind to think. Back then, if my friends woulda jumped off a cliff and told me it was fun, I’da jumped off a cliff too.”

Real Crime: Inside Death Row interviews three men as their dates of execution approach – and follows the stories of their families and loved ones as they deal with death firsthand. This story is not one of guilt or innocence; it is about how the State of Texas carries out the death penalty as well as the men and women who, by choice or circumstance, become players in the act of executing another human being.

Lastly, it explores how the residents of Huntsville feel about living in a town that is ground zero for capital punishment in the United States.

Missed Real Crime: Inside Death Row – the full episode is available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘Ondemand’ button – check Darren

TVNZ has been fined over a promo advertisement for a documentary that contained material unsuitable for a general audience.

A $2000 fine has been handed down to the state broadcaster following a promo for Real Crime: Interview with a Serial Killer which contained footage of a convicted murderer saying he had snapped a woman’s neck.

A complaint was submitted to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) from a woman who claimed her child was “disturbed” by the promo which screened at 5.25pm on Wednesday afternoon.

No violent images were shown during the promo but the BSA found it contained violent themes not suitable for that time of day.

“The broadcaster did not adequately consider the interests of child viewers by broadcasting during children’s normally accepted viewing times.”

On top of the fine, TVNZ has been warned of heavier penalties for future transgressions.

9:30pm Tuesday, April 20 on TV One

Real Crime: Gangs Of Oz returns to TV ONE at 9.30pm tonight to pull back the curtain on Australian gangs and meets the people behind the guns.

The second series focuses not only on the gangs themselves, but the people affected by them, and hears from the people who spend their waking hours trying to stay one step ahead of them – the police.

Tonight’s episode puts the microscope on bikie gangs. Big, burly, bearded and branded by tattoos, may still be the clichéd image of bikies in Australia, but it isn’t the reality.

Outlaw motorcycle gangs are shrewd criminal business groups who generate extraordinary volumes of cash and assets. Their fortress-like club houses and Harleys are now as common as their prestige cars, yachts and jet skis.

The first episode begins with a look at the big four bikie gangs, how they do business and what they’re prepared to do to stay on top; plus a former policeman talks about the day the Hells Angels put a hit out on him, and hired an assassin from the United States who travelled with the tools of his trade in his suitcase.

It also looks at ‘the black market café executions’ an event in which three bikies were lured to a ‘business’ meeting, then ambushed and executed. For the first time, the family of one victim talks about the events that led to their son’s brutal death.

The episode also take a tour of one of the most efficient and sophisticated hydroponics operations police have ever encountered – for these new look bikies – it’s no longer all about beer and bikes.

9:30pm Tuesday, April 13 on TV One

Real Crime: Lady Killers…Myra Hindley sees one of Britain’s leading crime writers, Martina Cole, explore the story of one of the world’s most notorious serial killers – Myra Hindley.

Myra Hindley was born in Manchester, and raised by her grandmother. It’s believed she may have been beaten by her alcoholic father, who was also allegedly violent towards her mother.

When she started work at a chemical firm in 1961, she met Ian Brady. They started dating at the office Christmas party and soon Brady is believed to have began encouraging Hindley to help him with bank robberies, to join a shooting club and purchase firearms on his behalf. Hindley was also encouraged to learn to drive as Brady needed a get-away driver.

By mid-1963, Brady had lost interest in bank robberies and was now intent on becoming a murderer for his own sexual gratification. Together, Brady and Hindley took part in the abduction, sexual abuse, torture, and murder of five children between July 1963 and October 1965.

Through examining the life history and career of Hindley, Cole attempts to understand what could have led her down the dark path towards committing the horrific crimes of sexual torture.

Through examining the life history and career of Hindley, Coles attempts to understand what could have led her down the dark path towards the sordid world of sexual torture.

Cole explains how the making of the series affected her “I had researched quite a few women killers and a lot of murders in general over the years for different projects, but doing it from this standpoint it became very personal. All the cases were quite poignant, each in their own way, and it really gave me a different insight.”

Asked about female killers verses male killers Cole says “I don’t think there’s much difference between male and female serial killers. I think women have got away with it for a lot longer. I mean as far as I know the FBI still haven’t got any profile for a female serial killer. For years, and I think it’s still the case now, it was felt that women had to be under the influence of a terrible man to do things like this. “

Cole says she sees Hinley as an alpha female “I think when you read the transcript of that tape you never hear Brady on there, the only voice you hear is Myra Hindley telling that child to shut up whilst she’s pleading to see her mum.”

9:30pm Tuesday, March 30 on TV One

TV ONE’s local Real Crime documentary, The Truth About Us, looks at one of New Zealand’s most difficult issues – child abuse (tonight at 9.30pm).

The abuse and murder of three-year-old Nia Glassie shocked New Zealand, and the perpetrators were convicted. But what if there’s another story that’s been left untold; another truth behind what played out in the weeks and months leading up to that day. Could there be a plausible explanation as to why and how the young men could commit such a crime?

Real Crime: The Truth About Us looks at the Curtis family’s background, the father, and his reported links to gangs; the mother and her state of mind – why didn’t she act to save Nia from the abuse?; the brothers, were they affected by violence in video games and what were their experiences growing up in that household; while also considering one of the more difficult questions about this case; perhaps a dozen people knew Nia was being abused, so why did nobody raise the alarm?

Looking at ways in which young people affected by family violence might be helped is psychiatric nurse and theatre director, Jim Moriarty. He runs intensive courses for young people, often victims of violence themselves, who have either been witnesses to violence, or are now offenders themselves. These courses use drama and role play to examine the issues, and look at what can be learnt from cases such as Nia Glassie.

Moriarty explains why he uses theatre and role play: “Traditionally theatre was about family, the ensemble, people choosing to work together for a common good outcome.”

By combining the best of western theatre metholodgy, with the rituals of encounters from his culture as a Maori, Moriarty says, “essentially we are teaching these children to perform in an appropriate way and not an inappropriate way.” Using a strength-based model, he says he wraps enough love around these young people and tries to help them be honest and true, but gives them boundaries, and affirmation.

The documentary also calls on child abuse and family violence experts who believe Kiwis need to unravel the violence in these cases or there will be more Nia Glassies, and more young people capable of this behaviour.

Margaret Evans from Parentline Charity says, “We do have to get to grips with the fact that as a nation, we do have an underbelly of violence and that goes right across all socio-economic groups, as well as all race groups.”

9:30pm Tuesday, March 23 on TV One

TV ONE’s local Real Crime documentary, The Worst Offenders – Can They Change?, takes a look at child sex offenders (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE). Their crimes are so abhorrent that most people would prefer to lock the perpetrators out of sight, out of mind. But a groundbreaking programme at Christchurch’s Rolleston Prison is proving there is a better way.

This documentary takes viewers inside the Kia Marama rehabilitation unit following actor Colin Moy (In My Father’s Den), as he takes on the psyche of a child sex offender. With unprecedented access to the inmates, whose identities are protected for their own and their victims’ sake, viewers gain first-hand knowledge of their distorted thought patterns, and of how expert psychological treatment, combined with blunt feedback from their fellow offenders, helps bring them out of denial for their actions and into the process of rehabilitation.

Producer Virginia Wright says she has wanted to make a documentary about the work at Kia Marama for a long time, but had concerns about the subject matter. “[It] is potentially so off putting, it needed the right treatment to make it work. There’s not a child in sight in this documentary. Thanks to Colin we start to get to know the men and how strong their motivation for change can be once they’re forced to face up to what they’ve done.”

Psychologists at the unit help create Moy’s character ‘Terry’, based on common threads they see in offenders who’ve passed through Kia Marama. Re-enactments from Terry’s past give insight into the mind of a child sex offender, particularly the grooming of victims, and subterfuge that surrounds this crime. However, as Terry passes through the different modules at the rehab unit, viewers see how this programme has the potential to change thought patterns and stop the cycle of abuse.

Actor Colin Moy and father of two, says taking on this role was a huge challenge. He was filled with apprehension going into it, but describes learning about the programme and meeting the offenders as a massive revelation. “I feel better now about who that sex offender living on my street might be,” he says.

It is the belief in the human capacity for change that drives staff at the unit and if the statistics are anything to go by, it’s working. The re-offending rate in the 1980s before there was any treatment in New Zealand was around 22 per cent. Latest figures show the re-offending rate for the men treated at Kia Marama is around five per cent.

With 70 rehabilitated child sex offenders released in New Zealand every year, this documentary puts a human face to the worst offenders within society and asks the question can they change?

9:30pm Tuesday, March 16 on TV One

Local documentary, Real Crime: Crime And Punishment, takes a look at New Zealand’s increasing use of prison as a response to crime through interviews with ex-prisoners; people working with them; and people working to keep young people out of the prison system (tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE).

Director John Bates says the underlying question for Crime And Punishment is a simple one: do prison’s work? But the answer is more complex, and with high recidivism featuring in jurisdictions around the world, it has become apparent that imprisonment is a very limited tool in the fight against crime.

“When you look at the research, you have to question what we are doing,” says Bates. “Our prisons are eating up huge amounts of money, but while they are keeping some dangerous people off the streets, they are also housing people who would be better off in alcohol and drug treatment centres or under a mental health regime.”

In Europe, prison reform is climbing up the agendas of a number of countries. Crime And Punishment meets Baronness Vivien Stern and Professor Andrew Coyle, who are advisors on prison policy to the United Nations and the European Council. Vivien Stern points out that recent research points to growing inequality (as suffered in New Zealand during the 80s and 90s) as a major contributor to crime. Andrew Coyle now uses New Zealand as an example of a failing prison policy in his briefings to other governments.

It also visits Finland, a country with a remarkable crime and punishment story. Finland went from having the highest rate of imprisonment in Europe to having the lowest – in 20 years they cut their prison population by two thirds, while maintaining similar crime trends to all their neighbours. They did this by reducing prison sentences, using fines and suspended sentences, and by increasing social spending in areas such as drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence. Politicians also agreed not to use crime for political gain, and the media supported the moves by pulling back on the more sensational aspects of crime reporting.

But what of New Zealand? In the last 15 years, the prison population has more than doubled to around 8,500, giving Kiwis one of the highest imprisonment rates (190+ per 100,000 people) in the Western World. New Zealand’s exact position in the OECD varies from one report to the next, but as a country, are constantly vying for second place, behind the United States, which, with more than 2.3 million prisoners, has just under a quarter of the world’s prison population.

Real Crime: Crime And Punishment was made before recent discussions on private prisons and ‘Three Strikes And Your Out’, but these policies have led to increased imprisonment rates in other places and the basic question remains the same – do prisons work?

Bates says: “There have been some terrible, violent crimes in this country, each one a tragedy for the victims, and few have gone unpunished, but what are we trying to achieve by locking all the other kinds of criminals up? The evidence suggests that, once a person enters the prison system they are more likely to re-enter it rather than become law-abiding citizens. It follows, the more people you lock up, the more re-offending there will be.”

Crime And Punishment takes a look at the available research and talks with a number of people working in the field, including Kim Workman from Rethinking Crime and Punishment; Chief Youth Court judge Andrew Becroft; Josephine Karanga from Te Korowai Aroha o Aotearoa; Graeme Page from the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society; drug and alcohol councillor, Roger Brooking; and June Jackson.

CRIME & INVESTIGATION – Wednesdays from 20 January, 9.30pm

Through first-hand accounts this series looks at shocking crimes that have stunned the world. From calculated killings to crimes of passion, experts reconstruct the recent past as they scrutinise crucial evidence revealing the tragic tales behind these Real Crimes.

9:30pm Wednesday, November 25 on TV One

An exotic locale, sunny skies, and the new life abroad may sound like heaven, but beware. Danger lurks behind those swaying palms, and a new lease on life may wind up being deadly.

New TV ONE series Real Crime: Paradise Lost shows the tales of foreign dreams that became bone-chilling nightmares (tonight at 9.30pm). From a Gambian hotel-business that is booming until its new owner is swindled and jailed for a crime he did not commit; to a new life in Kenya doomed by voodoo, conspiracy, and horrible health care; or a storybook romance in Mexico that turns to child kidnap and threats of murder, the stories capture what it’s like to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – and a long way from home.

Tonight’s first episode follows Nikki Roberts from her home in England to East Africa, following the death of her fiancé. Propelled by her dreams of owning a nightclub and of a new life in paradise, she moves to Watamu, on the magnificent Kenyan coast. Using the funds from her life insurance settlement, she immediately sets about building the life she has dreamt of. Although she almost immediately finds new love, Roberts also falls victim to a dark and sinister side of Kenya, few tourists ever witness.

Robert’s business efforts are troubled from the start. She is first conned out of thousands of pounds, only to become subjected to bone-chilling voodoo targeted at her successful nightclub. She is eventually forced to flee the town, after being betrayed by a business friend who it turns out is behind a campaign to steal her business. Then when she resettles further up the coast, a pregnant and penniless Robert endures a painful and humiliating botched caesarean.

After a three-month long convalescence, she opens another nightclub, only to find her success again hampered by voodoo attacks and corruption. The attacks finally culminate in her being thrown in jail on trumped-up charges, only to find her business being run by the same corrupt officials who imprisoned her.