Skip to main content

Legal Case Review: Rodney v Hallet[2003] 3 NZRL 407

Nyamweya is a global researcher with many years of experience on practical research on a diversity of topics

The story about this case is as follows. In 1979, a man named Rodney Tahu was murdered in cold blood. Though the suspect over this murder was identified as Menzies Hallett even by police officers, police were unable to find reliable evidence to implicate him in a court of law. And so for 3 decades, the culprit thought that he had got away with murder and this had been his top secret. In essence, Mr. Hallet was a successful real estate developer and agent. However, he had confessed this act to his wife, Mrs. Susan Shape of “having killed someone” shortly after doing this heinous act. At this time, the suspect and his wife were living separately. He had driven to his wife’s residence to give her this confession. When the incident happened, the laws of the land could not allow Mrs. Susan Sharpe to testify against her husband, thus the reason why Halliet was able to go scot free from this murder. However, after the separation and bitter divorce cases for the couple, the laws on evidence submissions had been reformed to accept even submissions from partners whether current or former. In this regard, the wife’s submission on Mr. Halletts involvement and confessions on Mr. Tahus killing made the police to reopen the 3 decade old file.

At the High Court at Rotorua, Mrs. Sharpe stated that while her husband was living for work, he became hesitant and requested her that there was something crucial he wanted to inform her. That is when he revealed to her of having killed someone in Turangi. He also went ahead to show her the gun he used to commit that heinous act.

At the High Court at Rotorua, the trial bench found the appellate guilty for the murder of Rodney Tahu, the Turangi Service Station attendant and sentenced him to life in imprisonment. . The basic evidence that was used against Mr. Hallet is that the statement and confession which he made to his then wife, Mrs. Susan Sharpel, shortly after the cold murder of Mr. Tahu. In the course of the trial, the trial jury heard how the appellate pulled proceed to a Shell Service Station in early hours of August, needing petrol for his vehicle. However, the attendant who happened to be Mr. Tahu refused to serve Hallet making him to develop fury and shot him three times. The first shot missed him, the second hitting him on the shoulder while the third pissing through his head.

This case is significant as it brings forth, the application of the repealed Evidence Act 2006. This also relays the importance of the new amendments especially regarding the need to consider everyone irrespective of the relationship, a compellable and eligible witness. It should be considered that this legal hurdle had been a cause why legal justice could not be instituted against Hallet and for the Mr. Tahu for over 30 years. This is irrespective of the fact that there was already crucial incriminating evidence that could be used to institute legal proceedings against the appellate. This is where we need to ask ourselves if it is justifiable to bar submission of confessions on the basis that the witness is a partner of the accused. Indeed, the ruling in this case of R v Hallet[2003] 3 NZRL 407 set a very important precedent as it regards to the application of of s 71 Evidence Act 2006, which out-ruled spousal immunity in admitting confessions from married partners.

Another significance of this case is the fact that the incidence had taken a whole 3 decade for it to be unearthed but the jury still considered the matter eligible for justice. The conclusion and ruling therefore, puts a side the assumption that a case’s weight can get diminished if the years go by. This is simply an indication that no matter how long a case can take, justice must be sought for it when deemed viable. In other words, the period a case takes does not influence the level of justice meted against an offender and this ought to be the norm in the justice system.

Scroll to Continue

Related Articles