Beyond Reasonable Doubt
The police had little to go on. No bodies, few clues, no motive.
For three months a massive search operation concentrated on finding the victims - a local farmer and his wife. Suspicion focussed on the woman’s father, Len Demler. Suddenly, with the discovery of both bodies in a nearby river, police attention switched to a local farmer Arthur Allan Thomas. In November 1970 Thomas stood trial on a charge of double murder. He was found guilty.
But there were strong misgivings among his family and friends. The concern spread through the media to the general public. Following efforts by his supporters, Thomas was granted a second trial in March 1973. This event was without precedent in British Commonwealth legal history. By now the police investigation and the legal system itself were on trial. Despite allegations of misconduct, suppression of witnesses and evidence, Thomas was again found guilty.
Thomas’ family and supporters would not give up. Following six more years of legal appeals and a Prime Ministerial inquiry, Arthur Allan Thomas was pardoned. One week before Christmas 1979, nine years after he was first imprisoned, Arthur Allan Thomas came home.
New Zealand producer John Barnett set out to film this incredible, true story. To write the script he signed British author and screenwriter David Yallop, author of the book responsible for highlighting Thomas’ case. And as the film set theatrical records in its New Zealand release, the government made a compensation payment to Thomas of $1,000,000.
Director of PhotographyAlun Bollinger