Operation 8: Trial: Day 11 – Tuesday

Article – Annemarie Thorby

One officer told the court the police ‘have a lot of information on everyone’ and another saying he had initiated his own surveillance operations sometimes while on holiday.Operation 8: Day 11 – Tuesday 28 February

‘We have a lot of information on everyone’

by Annemarie Thorby

Eight police were called on Tuesday as the Operation 8 trial continued.

One officer told the court the police ‘have a lot of information on everyone’ and another saying he had initiated his own surveillance operations sometimes while on holiday.

Cross-Examination of the Whetu Road Exhibits’ Officer

On Tuesday the Exhibits Officer finished giving evidence about the camp site.

During cross-examination Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara’s lawyer, Nick Taylor, asked about the numerous photos of spent shells found.

The officer said they were very corroded, tarnished, and appeared to be weathered. However, he had not taken advice at the time about the age of the cartridges.

He also confirmed that some of the cartridges were partly obscured by age and some were ‘sitting under growth’. He said these cartridges were found with metal detectors.

After showing the officer another photo of a partially buried cartridge Mr Taylor said, ‘now to any eye, that cartridge that’s half buried looks extremely old?’

The officer responded: ‘Like I said, I can’t give a date on that, on these, how long they have been sitting there…. But look at some other photos, they are shiny and clear. Even on other photos there is a clear difference between weathering’.

Mr Taylor asked, ‘would it have been useful to know what you were looking for?’

The officer said ‘we have search teams, everything was photographed in situ and then further examinations undertaken’.

The officer was asked to look at some more photographs. Mr Taylor said, ‘you have already drawn a distinction in your evidence between shiny and non-shiny cartridges and accept there is an age difference between them?’ He agreed he had.

The officer confirmed that ‘the search team was given a brief to find every single cartridge that they could find’.

Mr Taylor asked, ‘were they briefed on finding shiny new cartridges?’

‘No’

‘Why are all these photos of cartridges that are extremely old been included in the photo book? Isn’t that misleading?’

The Judge interrupted at this time and the officer was allowed to not answer the question.

Mr Taylor then changed the direction of his questions and asked how public the area was and whether the officer accepted that hunting took place in the area.

The officer said it was public and that hunting took place there.

He had not visited other bush areas in New Zealand to compare the number of shells that could be found in similar areas.

He also said that no projectiles had been found, and agreed that the oven allegedly used for target practise had been there a while. He also confirmed that there seemed to be no difference in the number of bullet holes between the first sighting of the oven and the end of the police operation.

He had photographed the oven in situ and confirmed a lot of the bullet holes were rusty.

Urs Signers’ lawyer, Chris Stevenson, asked about the video footage that showed open land around the gravel mound in the Whetu Road area with the view of Ruatoki roof tops in the distance.

Ruatoki itself is, confirmed the officer, little more than 3 to 4 minutes from the scene and it was probably reasonable any firearms fired in the Whetu Road area could be heard in Ruatoki.

Val Nisbet, Emily Bailey’s lawyer, asked once more about the use of metal detectors.

The officer agreed that the metal detectors helped to find every shell in the area, some that would have been there for several years.

Camp Scene Examination Officer – ‘Off the Cuff Surveillance’

Detective Adam Eltham returned to the stand next. He is an officer who has given evidence previously, in particular about following Rangi.

On Tuesday he spoke about how he was tasked to receive and itemise exhibits in the Whetu Road area.

Eltham said he had flown on his own initiative over the Ruatoki area to film it.

He thought it might help with the exhibition and as it was a still day ‘it was not too much of a task to fly and film at the same time’.

Russell Fairbrother asked him during cross-examination about visiting Ruatoki.

Eltham said the first time he ‘drove the roads’ was in November 2007.

He was in the area for one day with ‘the better part of his office’. Fairbrother asked if they were in a convoy or a school bus. The officer said there were approximately 10 police in the group and ‘from from memory some of us were in convoy’.

‘So you doubled the population?’ asked Fairbrother.

‘No,’ he answered. ‘It was surprising busy. I was surprised by how much vehicles travel up and down that road.’

He explained that going through the road camera footage during Operation 8 took a long time because of how busy it was.

He agreed with Mr Fairbrother that Ruatoki is only 20km from Whakatane but that it felt very separate.

Although it ‘was amazing how busy the area is’. But he reiterated that the area ‘had that remote feel to it’.

Stevenson asked the officer if he had got a decent understanding of the Ruatoki area.

The officer said ‘Definitely, of land ownership and the folks who lived in that area’.

Stevenson asked if Maori is spoken there as a first language. The officer said it was ‘stronger there definitely’.

He accepted Mr Stevenson’s proposition that it was a good place for young Pakeha New Zealander to immerse themselves if they wanted to learn Maori.

Nisbet returned to the questions about surveillance.

The officer confirmed that he had been involved for about 16 months in the Operation by the time of termination. He said the police had a specific person tasked to find out about people of interest but that he did it also from time to time on his own.

He said that he had undertaken surveillance tasks mainly in Auckland but once or twice in Wellington.

He said it was again off his own back, with his own camera.

He described it as ‘rather off the cuff at the time’.

Nisbet said, “So you were down there (Wellington) on holiday and thought you would go and do your own surveillance?”

“Yes.”

He explained he had photographed 128 Abel Smith Street and the Trades Hall.

He went inside the Trades Hall, whilst there he took a photo of a Peace Movement Aotearoa poster.

Later he walked to Cuba Street where he photographed three women sitting at a table recruiting people for the peace movement. One of the recruiters was Emily Bailey.

Wellington Exhibits’ Officer – ‘The Police Have a Lot of Information on Everyone’

John Fagan, who was during Operation 8 a Wellington Special Investigation Group officer, said he was in charge of all exhibits seized in Wellington.

Today he spoke in particular about items seized in relation to Emily Bailey.

He explained how in her backpack he had found Bailey’s diary and an address book.

He was cross-examined in detail by Chris Stevenson.

He had, he said, in 2007 gone to Oblong Café in Cuba Mall and that inside the café he noticed literature there and an article relating to recent problems in Tonga.

Fagan made notes that Urs Signer had been to Tonga and recalled that there had been ‘some sort of problem there’. He took the article with him but he ‘didn’t have a full read of it’.

He also said that a month later, in February 2007, he came across a Service & Food Workers picket.

That it was ‘just a protest we came across.’ He said that there were about one dozen people present, mainly Maori and Pacifika and also Signer.

He noted in his notebook that Signer had a young child, 1 to 2 years, gender not known’ with him.

Fagan arranged for a photographer to come. He said that that is normal part of intelligence.

He also saw Signer on a peace demonstration at the Botanic Gardens.

Signer was described by him as ‘one of the primary organisers’. He said that Signer was ‘wheeling a large green rubbish bin with a music system and was throwing fire crackers’.

Fagan said that he had seen a person with a two-way radio there and a hat, and that person was Rob Gilchrist but he did not know him at the time.

He confirmed that people were wearing masks on the demonstration.

He also observed Signer at a protest outside Parliament to mark the 4th anniversary of the Iraq war.

In June he was ‘directed to observe the start point of the Tour of Evil regarding the G8 summit and climate change’.

Again he noted in his job-sheet that protestors were covering their faces’.

At the Weapons Conference protest outside TePapa he said that people were wearing clown suits.

Stevenson then asked him about a notebook found. It had notes about learning teReo and doing teacher training. It belonged to Signer.

Val Nisbet was the next lawyer to cross-examine Detective Fagan and asked him if Emily Bailey was one of the ‘targets’ he had been briefed on to keep under surveillance . However, Fagan confirmed that Bailey had ‘cottoned onto him’.

Bailey had approached him and accused him of being a private investigator for Thompson and Clark.

He said he was aware of that agency. (A private investigation firm run by two ex-policemen who have surveilled activist groups and people on behalf of private industry).

The demonstration that Bailey had been attending on that particular day was ‘handing our leaflets to do with open-cast mining’, she was at the Wellington train station.

Nisbet asked about entries in Bailey’s diary and then returned to talking about policing protests in Wellington.

Fagan said the demonstrations he attended, he did not wear uniform and that police cameras, for instance at a demonstration against the Australian Prime Minister, were present.

Nisbet said, ‘It is important for you to be aware of who these protestors are?’

‘You build up profiles on all these people?’

Officer: ‘Yes.’

Nisbet: ‘There is obviously a lot of them, all you do is profile.’

Officer Fagan: ‘Yes.’

Mr Nisbet: ‘So you have a lot of information on people not of interest to police?’

Officer: ‘The police have a lot of information on everyone.’

Exhibits Officer at 128, Wellington and ‘War Document’ Found

The next witness was Craig Vining, the officer in charge of exhibits from 128 Abel Tasman St, Wellington.

He explained how he searched the wharemoe room there and found clothing and a backpack belonging to Signer.

In the backpack was clothing and a round of .22 in the pocket of a pair of trousers. There was also a music type book, a black zipped up hoody sweatshirt, an envelope addressed to Signer and other mail. There was a CD with ‘Tuhoe Resistance’ written on it.

Under cross-examination, Christopher Stevenson asked the officer about the media presence at 128 and how many police were present.

The officer confirmed that 128 was a Social Community House. That there were meeting rooms, a library, a free bike repair workshop and a communal kitchen, library and lounge in the house.

Mr Stevenson then asked him to look again at the photos of Signer’s belongings found in the wharemoe and asked him about the hard-case tied to the backpack which can be seen in the photo.

It looked like a case for a clarinet. The officer asked to refer to his notes and said that he ‘didn’t have a reference here to a clarinet’.

Stevenson also asked him to look at the envelope addressed to Signer.

The officer explained that it was a teacher’s enrolment pack. On the next page was a photo of a document the police had labelled ‘War Document’.

Stevenson asked him to describe that.

The War Document was a newsletter; on the front page was a summary of a protest, inside was an article about a person on hunger strike overseas, an article about Iran war veterans marching for peace and then on the back page was an article about the death of Syd Jackson.

Mr Stevenson asked him about the ‘execution’ of Operation 8 that was occurring around the country that day.

He asked the officer if there had been hundreds of police in Ruatoki and a helicopter. ‘Yes’, said the officer.

He also agreed that what happened at 128 was ‘a lot more low key’.

Ruatoki Search

The next witness was Craig Cartwright, an officer at Ponsonby who was tasked as the officer in charge of a search at a house in Ruatoki. His responsibilities included locating and taking possession of exhibits until they could be secured.

The jury was asked to refer to the Urs Signer booklet.

The officer described how the first place he searched was the sleep-out.

In a locked cupboard he detailed finding a number of items: a pair of black binoculars in a case with the label ‘community resources’, a uniden scanner again labelled ‘Community Resources Group’ in a Kathmandu cover, a Dick Smith 40 channel pocket community communicator and a charger, a piece of paper with ‘Wellington frequencies’.

He was asked to explain that, he rifled through his papers for a moment before the Prosecutor asked him, ‘is it a business card with radio frequencies on back?’ ‘No, I don’t think that is what it is,’ said.

The prosecutor asked the officer to continue talking about what was in the locked cupboard.

He said there were two cans of spray paint (one red one black), a gun slit cleaning pack, and five empty bottles of beer.

Above the locked cupboard was ammunition and stamped paper targets.

In the end bedroom was a green balaclava and a dark blue beret. On the top shelf in the bedroom wardrobe was more ammunition.

There was also a topographical map of the Waimana area in a cardboard tube.

On the middle shelf in the wash-house cupboard more rounds of ammunition and spent rounds were also found.

He was then asked about the car found at the house. He said that the property found in the car was photographed and then the car was towed to the Whakatane police station.

He then was asked to detail all the items found in the car.

Using the Urs SIgner booklet, the prosecutor referred to each photo and asked the officer to confirm that each item was found there. T

here were food items and a green pack with a number of items in it, including food, fireworks, a black balaclava with and open face, a pair of camouflage pants, a long-sleeve camouflage shirt, a light weight camouflage balaclava with eye and mouth holes.

The officer interrupted and said, ‘It looks like a wool balaclava to me, maybe it’s cotton.’

The prosecutor also asked him about a book titled ‘Commando Survival Manual’. The officer said, ‘Well I can see it in the photo But I can’t remember it.’

After his answer, the prosecutor decided that as it was nearly lunchtime, it was an appropriate time to adjourn.

After Lunch

Officer Cartwright continued to give evidence and the first thing the prosecutor did was to remind the officer about what they had been discussing before the break.

The prosecutor said, ‘Now before we adjourned for lunch, we discussed some books.

Was one of the books you located the ‘Commando Survival Manual’?’

‘Yes’ was the response. Then he asked about the balaclavas again, and the fact that a pair of black leather boots were also found. The officer said that they were ‘a pair of size 43 combat style boots’.

In the car were also change of ownership papers, a letter from the ASB, and a receipt for sale of tyres, from the Taupo Tyre centre.

There was also a diagram for a training exercise with military-style instructions.

The prosecutor took the officer through more photos of the ammunition and other items found.

He was asked if he was aware that ‘someone resident there was charged and convicted with possession?’ the officer said he was.

Under cross-examination the officer told Christopher Stevenson that he was now aware that someone had plead guilty to possession of the ammunition found in the house.

He was asked about the actual details of the day he had searched the house.

He said that he had been briefed at Rotorua police station and he ‘guessed that he was in Ruatoki by 6 or 7 in the morning’.

He was not there when the SIG ‘physically burst in’. He agreed that the house looked occupied. He said, ‘from memory it looked like a sizeable family’. He didn’t know if Signer slept there as he was ‘focussed on his job which was exhibitions’.

He was then asked about the locked cupboard inside the sleep out.

He said that in the cupboard was also a painting with a name on it. With regard to the map in the tube he clarified that it was found inside the house in a bedroom there.

He explained that the vehicle parked in front of the house was not searched in situ. He did ‘go through it but we were running out of time so we photographed it that day’.

He was asked about a plastic bag of books in the car, it was in this bag that the Commando Survival Manual was found.

Stevenson asked him to refer to his notebook and listed a number of other books found in the bag, such as a guide to identifying native birds, ferns, seafood and native forest shrubs.

He looked at the photograph of the Commando Survival Guide and confirmed that behind it was a Waananga prospective about studying Maori, and behind that a pamphlet about supporting survivals of sexual abuse. However, he couldn’t remember that, ‘but wouldn’t dispute that’.

Stevenson then asked about the next photograph, the photo of the pair of boots.

He said to the officer that ‘you described them as combat boots. But in other language they are just an ordinary pair of boots.’ ‘Sure,’ agreed the officer.

He said that he was not aware that the family in the house all spoke Maori as their first language.

He also told Mr Stevenson that he did not recall ‘police officers picking up a number 8 from a child’s jigsaw puzzle and taking photos of it with a cellphone’.

Nor did he recall the woman present in the house saying ‘my kids are in the garage for hours and you treating this like a joke’.

Whelan back on the stand

Detective Whelan, a high-ranking officer in Operation 8 returned to the stand. He gave evidence this time about identifying people, in particular Signer and Bailey, as being present at Rama.

He said that a cellphone was found at the central Wellington camp site near te Aro school.

The phone, he said, ‘contained a number of numbers relevant to this case.’ He then read out the names and numbers of people, only one of whom, was not originally arrested on October 15th 2007. (These people subsequently had all the charges dismissed against them in September last year).

He then went onto describe in detail clothing that he said he had matched to what people were wearing at the camps. And to aid further in identification, he used text messaging indicating that Bailey was going to a camp and surveillance. He also used Bailey’s diary and her address book, the address book also contained details of people who were no longer facing charges resulting from Operation 8.

After an afternoon tea break Detective Whelan was not called back to the stand instead Karen Hoshek, a professional standard investigator, was called to the stand.

She was the police officer in October 2007 tasked as the Exhibits’ Officer at the main address where Tuhoe Lambert and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara lived.

The jury were told to refer to the Tuhoe Lambert evidence book.

She said she searched the house and sleep-out but that the majority of her exhibits were found in the house. I

n the master bedroom she located two cellular phones on top of some drawers, but there was also a third located.

She also found a camouflage backpack with clothing in it, including camouflage trousers and a tee-shirt with the Tino Rangitiratanga emblem on it.

In a car she found a gun slick rust preventative kit, live ammunition and a balaclava.

Under cross-examination she said told Fairbrother that in a photo he showed her, she could not see any identifying differences between the backpack in the photo and the one found in Mr Lambert’s place.

Whelan Returns

Fairbrother took up where he had left off before the afternoon tea break. He asked questions related to Signer and then asked about Bailey’s diary.

He asked the officer if she had a busy life as an activist. The officer agreed.

Fairbrother asked what the red badge on Bailey’s cap said. It said,

‘Louise Nicholson we believe you’ and the patch with the picture of someone holding an animal said, ‘who will save you, if we don’t’


The next witness was a detective in Wellington at the time of Operation 8 and assisted in execution of a search warrant at the house of Tuhoe Lambert and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara

He was tasked with speaking to Rangi.

He said that he asked Rangi if he had firearms. Rangi said yes in the car and the car key is near the firearm license in the caravan. He also told the officer where the ammunition was located, and also paintballs.

After talking with Rangi, he then assisted with the search in the house and with exhibits and labelling. He also got the key to the car and the car was photographed in situ.

There was no cross-examination and court adjourned at 4.44pm.

ENDS

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