Real Crime

Wednesday 5 August, 9.30pm

Sophie Elliott was 22 years old when she was stabbed to death in her Dunedin bedroom, the day before she was due to start a promising new career. The man who killed Sophie was a former boyfriend – a man ten years her senior, and one of her academic tutors at Otago University.

Tonight’s Real Crime documentary, The Killing Of Sophie Elliott, explores this killing, and examines the background to the crime (at 9.30pm on TV ONE).

The accused, Clayton Weatherston stood in the dock in the Christchurch High Court several weeks ago, and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He denied murdering Sophie, and ultimately took the witness stand to try to explain his role in the 216 stab and cutting wounds that had been found on her body.

Clayton Weatherston’s trial – covered extensively by the news media – appeared to capture the nation’s attention.

On Real Crime: The Killing Of Sophie Elliott director, Rob Harley, examines key features of the case against a man whose life was laid bare on the witness stand, and whose complex behaviour has become one of the most discussed criminal cases in recent history.

Please note: Real Crime: Serial Killer On Camera will now screen Wednesday 12 August at 9.30pm.

Wednesday 29 July, 9.30pm

One of the worst things a school teacher can be accused of is an addiction to pornography. What chance does a teacher have of clearing their name, when they are suspected of surfing the internet for pornography on a work computer?

Tonight’s Real Crime documentary, The Worst That Could Happen (at 9.30pm on TV ONE) takes a look at the story of primary school principal Tim Jenkinson, who has been living with a nightmare for nearly three years. In the process of upgrading computer security at his school, Bayview Primary on Auckland’s North Shore, Jenkinson was found to have thousands of pornographic images on his school-supplied laptop.

Jenkinson says he’d actually complained about so-called porn ‘pop-ups’ on his computer months before the allegations were levelled at him, and the computer upgrade at the school, which found the porn, was instigated by him.

However, Jenkinson found himself out on the street, jobless, in poor health, and all his available funds – including the equity in his house – rapidly dwindling.

Real Crime: The Worst That Could Happen sees a nine-month journey with a family who found themselves caught in the eye of a 21st Century technology storm. It’s an account of how good friends and a kind-hearted lawyer battled to help prove that a once highly respected teacher was actually innocent of porn-related accusations.

It also takes a look at how internationally, accusations about computer porn are turning into what one expert calls the ‘modern-day Salem Witch Trials’.

Documentary makers Rob Harley and Anna McKessar met people on the other side of the world, whose lives and careers are being trashed by flimsy allegations which have turned out to be groundless.

The documentary asks how safe are the computers which are now part of the daily communication used by millions of Kiwis, and discovers how easy it is for a computer to be invaded by unwanted and salacious material.

SUNDAY 21st June 9:35PM

Documentary

Thirty-year-old Carol Park, a teacher and mother of three, was brutally murdered by her husband in 1976. Gordon Park bludgeoned his wife Carol to death with an ice axe and dumped her weighted body in Coniston Water, one of the deepest lakes in England. Park lived with the secret for a remarkable 21 years. This is the story of a seven year police investigation to bring her killer to justice.

SUNDAY 14th June 9:40PM

Documentary

In his hometown of Paris, Ontario, Albert Walker portrayed himself as a devout Sunday school teacher, church elder, loving family man and financial wizard with a university degree. Over a period of six years, Walker extorted $3 million from his fellow churchgoers and neighbours who had been giving their money to him to invest which in fact he was depositing it in his secret bank accounts.

In August 1990 Walker assumed the identity of David Davies, a client he’d swindled and went to the UK to escape the multi-million dollar embezzlement charges. 

David Davis (as Albert Walker was then known) moved to Harrogate in Yorkshire where he befriended Ronald Platt and his girlfriend Elaine. Within two years Davis had paid the Yorkshire couple’s air fare to Canada where they planned to start a new life. Davis/Walker kept Ronald’s driving licence, birth certificate and credit cards. He then assumed Ronald Platt’s identity. 

Two years later Ronald returned home unexpectedly and Walker killed him to protect his alias. 

It was the accidental discovery of Ronald Platt’s body off the Devon coast by a fishing trawler in July 1996 that led to Walker’s unmasking. Ronald’s body had been stripped of all identification and the police presumed they were dealing with an accidental drowning until one vital piece of evidence came to light. 

SUNDAY 7th June 9.30pm

Documentary

Stephen Hilder, a 20 year old army cadet and sky diving enthusiast fell to his death on a formation display jump on July 4th 2003. His main and reserve parachutes had been deliberately sabotaged. The police immediately launched a murder inquiry. Nine months on, and with no credible suspects, a forensic breakthrough led the police to the conclusion it was suicide. But the inquest returned an open verdict. There was massive media interest and misinformation about the sequence of events leading up to the jump. So what do those closest to Stephen and to the investigation believe really happened? This film re-examines the evidence available at the time and subsequently.

Wednesday 1 April, 9.30pm on TV One

The vast majority of killers prey on their victims alone. But in a tiny number of cases, two people are drawn together to form a deadly duo. And when they do, they are often more brutal and sadistic than those who murder alone.

Internationally best-selling crime novelist Mark Billingham (author of Buried; Lifeless; and Scaredy Cat) has made a career out of creating fictional murderers.

Now in Real Crime: Killer Couples (starting tonight at 9.30pm on TV ONE), Billingham gets inside the minds of real-life killers. He meets the friends who knew them, the detectives who caught them, and the psychologists and criminologists who have tried to understand them.

He tries to answer key questions posed by these appalling crimes: how and why did two people come to hatch a plot to kill as a pair? And if they hadn’t met, would they have killed at all?

In the first episode of this new series, Billingham examines the most infamous killer couple in British criminal history: 1960s child-killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. He sets out to solve the riddle of why this young couple went from first date to the abduction, rape, torture and murder of vulnerable children in just two years.

 

Wednesday 9 April, 9.30pm

Nowadays the new testing techniques make it increasingly difficult for criminals to escape justice, but could the opposite also be true? Could a murderer use a knowledge of forensic science to commit the perfect murder? How To Commit The Perfect Murder asks the people most likely to know: forensic scientists.

The programme focuses on the notorious and as yet unsolved murder of Alexander Litvinenko. When ex-KGB spy Litvinenko was admitted to hospital in London, it took doctors several weeks to deduce just what was killing him – radiation poisoning. By the time they’d cracked it, he was dead. Litvinenko was poisoned somewhere in the capital by a man who had brought the deadly polonium-210 substance on a plane from Russia. The time it took doctors to diagnose Litvinenko gave the killer a window of opportunity to escape and he or she is yet to be found.
Interviewing a number of experts, the programme examines this and many other types of murder, from poisonings to staged accidental deaths. Forensic specialists lay down the facts and point out the pitfalls of trying to tamper with evidence. Then the experts go on to test a few fictional ideas, like could an icicle, melting away to leave no trace, be used as a weapon to kill someone?

Wednesday 2 April, 9.30pm

In The Iceman and the Psychiatrist, renowned psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz goes inside the mind of Mafia contract killer Richard Kuklinski.

Featuring footage culled from 13 hours of interviews over the course of four days, along with photo stills, crime reenactments and home movies, The Iceman and the Psychiatrist offers insights into the twisted psyche of the man who admits to more than 200 murders, and is known as ‘The Iceman’ becuase of his penchant for freezing the bodies of his victims to disguise the time of death.
Dr. Dietz has interviewed some of the most notorious killers in America, including Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, Susan Smith and Arthur Shawcross, among many others. He is also a consultant to the FBI and an expert on the criminal mind. In The Iceman and the Psychiatrist, he explores Kuklinski’s childhood, revealing that as early as age 10, Kuklinski showed signs of pathological behaviour, including torturing cats and dogs. His abusive childhood had a profound impact on him, and as he grew older, Kuklinski displayed a hair-trigger temper and held unreasonable grudges.

Killing was a “cure-all” for people who had insulted or annoyed him, however slightly. In his 20s, he caught the attention of the Mafia, and became one of their most efficient hitmen, doing a lot of “business” at the Gemini Lounge in Brooklyn. However, when asked if he thinks of himself as an assassin, Kuklinski replies, “Assassin…sounds so exotic. I was just a murderer.”

Why did Kuklinski decide to talk to Dietz? “To find out more about myself – you’re highly qualified to give me answers.” Turning the tables on the Iceman, Dietz tells Kuklinski to interview him. All Kuklinski can manage is “What do you think of me?”

Dietz tells Kuklinski he’s got a personality “warp” composed of two parts. The first is an anti-social personality disorder that obliterated any sense of conscience, remorse or guilt. Kuklinski’s high threshold for fear didn’t necessarily mean he’d be a killer, but his abusive upbringing sent him down a murderous path that might have led instead to more heroic vocations, like a test pilot or even a policeman.

The second part is a paranoid personality disorder that caused Kuklinski not to trust anyone. Ironically, the combination of these two flaws, very rare among people, made him such a huge success as a killer. Still, the Iceman admits, “I’m probably the loneliest person in the world … I have nothing I care for … All I have left is hate – that’s all I started with, too.”

Wednesday 26 March, 9.30pm

In the final episode, Undercover investigates whether an Undercover Programme is necessary in a world where hi-tech surveillance methods make anything possible. Should we still be sending police officers out for long-term deployments in often extremely dangerous conditions? Undercover work is not for the faint-hearted – but is it for anyone?

Despite the controversies, the lawsuits and the bad press, the Undercover Programme continues to generate hundreds of convictions a year. It has moved with the times – and in the 90s moved into targeting organised crime syndicates, including lethal motorbike gangs and stolen property rings.
Undercover: A New Era? tells the story of recent agents and the changes made to the Programme to protect them. It also explores the latest successes against gangs, drug and stolen property rings.

Army recruit turned police officer, Steve (identity protected), was in his early 20s when he applied for undercover work. Idealistic, naïve, and young, Steve says he idealised the former agents who had returned to uniform.

Once in the programme, he was not disappointed. He found the work exhilarating and challenging.

“Undercover work is all about the people, it’s about relationships. At the end of the day it is a high stakes game of chess. It’s a complex game you’re playing and so you’ve got to have a certain amount of brain power to play it.

“You’ve got to be prepared to got out there and see the world for how it is, not for the way you’ve been brought up to believe it is, because you know you will find that in those areas of society you thought you’d find nothing good, you find some of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life and so you’ve got to be prepared for that.”

Steve still believes undercover work is one of the most effective tools available to police in their fight against crime.

“I don’t think the cost is too high. I think it’s a hugely valuable experience for an individual. The vast majority of undercover agents look back on the experience in quite positive terms. That’s largely why I wanted to participate in this series, because I’m sick of everyone slagging off something that I love and got so much out of.”

Former agent Tony Bouchier, who is now a successful criminal lawyer, disagrees. He believes the human cost of undercover work is too high a price to pay for the successes the work has achieved.

“I lost a lot of good and close mates to the Undercover Programme,” he says. “Some are doing porridge or had done it, some of them are wife beaters, alcoholics, drug addicts. I call them the lost souls of the planet. I didn’t have that experience, but I am incredibly angry that the department ever put me at threat of being one of those people because I was very close to it. I was absolutely very close to it. The work itself was nearly the end of me. I could just have easily slipped the other way.”

What is the price of living a lie? Undercover, a three-part local documentary series, explores the human cost of the controversial New Zealand Police Undercover Programme, as told by former agents.

The second episode of Undercover examines the controversial policy of sending undercover agents into some of New Zealand’s deadliest gangs during the 1980s.

While living undercover became an adrenaline rush for many agents, it also took a very personal toll on some. Undercover talks to some of the casualties of the New Zealand Police Undercover Programme, including ex-agent and convicted heroin importer Wayne Haussmann.

In the dramatised scenes, Wayne Haussmann is played by Aaron Cortesi, whose credits include Taika Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark, 30 Days of Night as well as numerous stage roles.

But nothing had quite prepared him for the stories he encountered in Undercover.

“When you watch the interviews and hear the stories, it’s hard to believe this was going on in New Zealand. It’s like something straight out of Hollywood, except with a very Kiwi feel. It’s part of the New Zealand Police that the general public don’t know anything about – and I think it’s an important story to tell to honour these guys.”

Cortesi aimed to respect the sensitive nature of the stories, while at the same time trying to give an accurate portrayal of what the agents went through.

“I was amazed at the way they were able to reflect on that part of their lives so candidly in their interviews, particularly given the extreme pressure they were put under. Some of the scenes were very intense to play. You get an appreciation of just how hard it was and how unprepared for the emotional strain these guys were. I hope I’ve managed to capture some of that intensity.”

Wednesday 19 March, 9.30pm on TV1