Jenni McManus in her articles led her readers to believe that the subjects of the article, were involved in serious organised crime. The opening line in her first report was extraordinary:
“A WAR of nerves fuelled by allegations of drug running, stand-over tactics and illegal firearms has erupted in Gisborne between creditors claiming debts of around $300.000.00 and the owners of a now closed licensed restaurant.”
The balance of the article equally outrageous, fictitious and defamatory, clearly the intention was to malign her subjects. McManus having given the men the benefit of a five minute interview the afternoon before the article was published was informed of what had been happening and advised to proceed with caution – a warning that she chose to ignore
During that telephone call the allegations of the purported criminal connection and enterprise were not discussed she didn’t bring the subject up. obviously already having made her mind up, deciding instead that there was no need to get the other side of the story, in fact McManus’s sentiments are best expressed in her own words:
Detective Thomas and Sergeant Davidson had been very successful in convincing her of that, had she however done what any ethical journalist is obliged to she would have arrived at a very different conclusion, but she didn’t.
The brothers were not the stand-over men McManus had deliberately portrayed them to be, nor had there ever been any involvement in drugs or illegal fire arms, there was absolutely no evidence to support her contention nor was there any justification for printing it.
In this case the real criminals were the corrupt cops she had received the information from, the men who had conspired with Marianne Spence the local journalist to con McManus into writing the totally fictitious and defamatory articles in the first place – articles clearly designed to cause serious harm.
As planned this ensured that any attempt at recovering the business was futile – within a matter of days assets and reputations were totally annihilated – investment properties forced to be sold at a loss as the banks threatened action; insurers rushing to cancel policies, no financier could even so much as look at refinancing – all as a result of Jenni McManus’s malice.
The allegations portrayed in her articles were the work of three corrupt police officers; Detectives Stanley Matthew Willcox, Malcolm John Thomas and Senior Sergeant Alan Davidson.
These Police officers were in fact the organised criminals, both Thomas and Willcox the only stand-over men and Thomas and his corrupt ex-cop mate Dimery the inventers of the illegal firearms to which Mcmanus clearly decided to give prominence – an invention by Dimery and Thomas designed for no other purpose than to gain access to a property; searching for equipment that Dimery, Davidson and Thomas were desperately trying to steal using the guise of a repossession.
It was during this very attempt at illegal repossession that Dimery, accompanied by Thomas, appeared in the office of an unrelated company owned by one of the brothers. Thomas had been actively assisting Dimery with the repossessions. Thomas had crossed the line he was now breaking the law, the police have absolutely no role in civil matters, this fact did not seem to bother Thomas; he obviously knew that his superiors would protect him – which they did.
Thomas immediately threatened the occupant with arrest if he tried to stop Dimery searching his property. He held out a commercial contract between two totally unrelated Companies as giving him and Dimery the right to search. This was immediately disputed and the threat to arrest was again made. Whilst the second of these threats was being made a witness entered the building, Michael Muir the owner of the Gisborne herald, he had arrived for an appointment with the brother.
Thomas and Dimery eventually left not having found what they were searching for. Muir was asked to attest to the unlawful threats of arrest made by Thomas. Muir then stated you should be careful of those guy’s, which was immediately taken to mean that they were dangerous; Thomas had been involved in the Dickey Maxwell affair and charged along side others. These cops were alleged to have stripped Maxwell and tied him up with Barbed wire amongst other seriously violent behaviour – The impression Muir no doubt hoped to impart was that Thomas and Dimery were dangerous men, not to be crossed – he needn’t have bothered the behaviour just witnessed was evidence enough of that.
A complaint was made to the police, the subsequent investigation however cleared Thomas of any wrong doing – this was of course not surprising – Thomas had again lied in his report; claiming that the threatened arrest for a breach of the peace should any attempt be made to stop his mate Dimery had not been made. The police also claimed that they had obtained a legal opinion on the document Thomas had produced purportedly justifying the search – despite numerous requests this opinion of course has never been produced – no doubt it never existed.
Any bush lawyer would have known the document was worthless, it certainly did not give them any powers to search the property of anyone other than those who had signed it – neither the occupant or any of his companies were a party to the contract – CFC the finance Company involved disavowed any knowledge of the matter other than to claim that they had not condoned or authorised their agents Thomas and Dimery’s actions – CFC knew it had been illegal.
On this occasion and many more Thomas was the stand-over man, assisting Dimery with repossessions that he himself had worked hard to incite – his actions were criminal, yet the Police hierarchy did absolutely nothing about it.
Again four days later Thomas was taped, the recorded conversation a very different account to that of Thomas’s formal report for the investigation.
Michael Muir in an unsigned statement requested by police supported the events manufactured by Thomas for his own spurious report, that unfortunately makes Michael Muir a liar too, which is not at all surprising given that Marianne Spence was his employee and had been busy conspiring with Thomas to co-opt Jenni McManus to write her stories in the first place.
Muir was totally comfortable lying for his bent friends in the Police, he had in the past and would continue to do so until 1995 when the court of appeal ruled that his publication had been in contempt of Court in yet another one of its dubious attempts to support Police.