With so many facts that made so little sense, the defence made an application questioning whether the Investigators evidence was admissible, a date for the pre trail was set for 15-16 April 2013. Note how the DELAY part of the DELAY, Deny, Defend system was using the Court process to be highly effective, the pre trial was 19 months after the fire!
I am just going to select some pieces of testimony from the pre-trial transcript and comment on them, much of the testimony was just reading in the reports of the investigators with the Crown barrister very slowly going over every point in massive detail – almost a philibuster style hearing!
The pre trial had a positive result a month before it started, Russell Joseph had to disclose the images he had taken at the fire scene and they were dynamite, showing large chunks of his evidence were deliberately misleading.
The images seen of the reconstruction of the Remote Ignition system seen in Jorgensen’s Fire Investigation Report dated 24 January ’12 have never been disclosed. Obviously, these were taken after the Police interview and the change from a hacking based device to the Trigger based device, and the meta data they would contain would prove this was the case.
The pre trial itself started with Joseph giving evidence.
This was early in his testimony, he was recounting the events on his first visit to the fire scene on 14-16 September 2011. One of the oddities in his investigation was the delay in checking for accelerants, he was there for three days in September and didn’t check at all but when he returned in November he waited until the end of the day and then fabricated the evidence of accelerant pooling and trailing near the back door as seen on the Investigation page.
At the pre trial he was discussing accelerants endlessly in his testimony covering the earlier visit to the fire scene. His images relating to the accelerant evidence all have Metadata showing they were taken after 5pm on the 8 November’11. This effectively prevented being questioned as to why he had waited so long to do these checks.
His determination in his Fire Investigation Report dated 4 October ’11 extensively relies on his finding accelerants, Sections 7.2, 7.4 and 7.20 all refer to the presence of accelerants. Without Forensic testing this evidence was technically inadmissible. NFPA 921 Guide to Fire and Explosion Investigation, 2011 edition, 22.214.171.124.5 deals with such details and the whole section is relevant but ignored by the untrained and unqualified Joseph.
A rare line of honesty from Joseph, the glass had been broken from an external attack. He took 9 or 10 images of the balcony and the rocks showing how important he realised they were. All the photographs show the rocks and glass 100% on top of all the fire and ceiling debris on the balcony. Later in his testimony to the second part of the pre trial he would give, what must be, some of the most outrageous testimony ever heard in any Court in New Zealand on this subject.
Here we have a specific denial of find any jewellery boxes in the bedside table, he would have to regret these words under cross examination later.
Jorgensen is trying to justify his claim that the fire was staged. He claims female clothing was missing in Alison’s walk in wardrobe but his disclosed images clearly show a deep level of debris with fragments of expensive clothing showing through. The clothes were destroyed in the fire whilst the jewellery, antique silver and other, easy to remove, valuables vanished. In a house that was like an art gallery with valuables everywhere why would they take a TV which had been bolted to the wall or a ten year old PC?
The Crown barrister is providing a vital piece of evidence by the back door method. He asked about the actual seat of the fire or the point of ignition, vital really but Joseph never established where the point of ignition actually was! He really should not comment on the barrister’s question without that knowledge but the door was opened and he drove straight through it. Giving the Judge the false impression that the point of ignition had been established.
Probably the second, honest statement in his whole testimony, ‘I don’t believe that the scene, in itself links Mr Robinson to the actual setting of the fire.’ That would be left to Martin Jorgensen!
Joseph had to leave early, supposedly to get to another trial the next day which was a considerable distance away.
Martin Jorgensen then took the stand, he reportedly was flushed and clearly very nervous.
Chris and Alison on 30 August’11 had returned earlier than was usual from one of their walks due to Chris being ill. As they approached the long drive into Killara a vehicle had left the drive at speed and turned away from them. When they reached the house they found the Front door open, it was deserted but a quick inspection showed that an intruder had at least walked through the property entering most of the rooms. They couldn’t see that anything had been taken but they called the Police.
The Police arrived to find Chris struggling with the shock of the event, the back door had one of the glass panels smashed to gain entry. The woman PC was very good, calming the situation recommending a loud alarm be installed and that the gate at the end of the long drive be locked at night and when they left the property. She pointed out that with the single road to the property from the main road some 3Km away it was easy for an intruder to have been warned that they were returning and get out before they arrived.
Chris immediately started to research alarm systems and ordered one the next day, he got a thank you message that disappointed him, the unit was out of stock and it would take 10-14 days to arrive. With their trip to Hamilton all booked for the 9 – 12 September he decided to try to find a temporary solution.
He found a solution on the internet, using the webcam on his PC. He followed the instructions on the page, downloaded two pieces of software, LogMeIn and Webcam software that was motion sensitive. He installed both on the day after the break in, and when used as on the instructions he could view the webcam attached to the PC on the screen of his MacBook.
These sort of systems are now available at your local DIY store and they work very well, in 2011 it was all new and as Chris would find out, required a far better internet connection at both ends than was available at Killara or the motel in Hamilton to actually transmit an video feed. It worked well when both systems were in the same Wi-fi network but when he tried to check on the property from Hamilton, he just got a blank screen, he logged off and tried again later but again there was no result.
Jorgensen is misleading the Court. He found no references in any searches for ‘micron wire’ or ‘Micro switch.’
Naturally, there were records of Chris searching for alarm related items such as ‘security camera.’
Jorgensen obviously doesn’t understand the importance of ‘significance’ either, not stating how large the history file was. 20 occurrences of a term in a small file, say 1,000 words, would be highly significant but the PC History file was massive and probably covered a year or longer of internet use with millions of words, 20 occurrences in that size file would be insignificant.
Batteries and timer switches are common domestic items, hardly related to a method of remote ignition!
These pages record a discussion directly with the Judge. It is damning on Jorgensen.
He states that it could have been done without a printer, that any type of device could be used but only the remains of a printer were claimed to have been found at the fire scene.
He couldn’t categorically state that this is how it (the fire) started because the evidence was destroyed which the INSURANCE ORGANISATION wanted him to state!
Jorgensen was giving evidence as an EXPERT Witness, he has sworn that the evidence he would give would be his own and that he was not working for an interested party but here he was taking instructions from IAG!
It is important here to view what he actually had said in his Fire Investigation Report of 24 January ’12
In his report he had had no reservations about the position stating ‘This amply PROVED both the feasibility and high probability that this method using the same or almost identical components were the cause of the fire’
At the Pre trial he would say this was impossible because the evidence was destroyed! I suspect he was trying to cover his backside here, telling the truth but too late when the report was already in the hands of Crown Law to use against Chris.
It appears he did EXACTLY what IAG had requested and confirmed the position without any reservation.
Jorgensen only pretends to be a Computer expert and displays glaring holes in his basic knowledge of computing here. Chris used a Webmail system not an old fashioned dedicated email system. The Macbook was generally only used when away from Killara and only then would it log into the Webmail server which would download recent emails but not the full list of emails received and viewed on the main PC at Killara. It may look odd if you are unaware of how multiaccess webmail works but a real expert would instantly know what had happened. No emails had been deleted they just hadn’t been downloaded.
He also apparently cannot read, the LogMeIn on-line manual details how a remote system logs onto a LogMeIn host.
The remote system doesn’t need to have any LogMeIn software initially installed because when it logs in, a small piece of software is downloaded from LogMeIn, everybody is probably familiar with these, it is a ‘Cookie.’ The manual explains how this cookie remains on the system until it is deleted automatically when the system is shut down.
The Cookie would have been installed when Chris tried to log into the Killara Host using LogMeIn and stayed alive until Chris shut down the MacBook before the trip back to the destroyed property. He wouldn’t have been aware it happened at all and it was in no way significant to the fire.
A truly simple switch, the ones that you use everyday to turn the light on would never have worked because the force required to click a simple switch is more than the string taped to the printer paper could ever supply. Calling a specialist micro switch just a simple switch is highly misleading.
Jorgensen is talking about highly specialised wire and batteries here, Chris would have had no knowledge of this and no way to acquire either.
Here the devil in the detail that would destroy the case is revealed, the essential PRINT COMMAND.
Jorgensen admits he cannot say what caused the fire, it could have been done with his Trigger theory but there is no evidence to support it. the only search was for a 12V battery which is a very common item and probably had no relevance.
Jorgensen could never find a print command on the day of the fire because as would later be established the last one issued by the PC was 24 hours before the fire!
Joseph had not completed his testimony and the Judge said he wished to continue as soon as possible but Joseph was a pawn in the DELAY, DENY, DEFEND system and delay here was simple. He was not available until the 18 August’13, apparently he was pre-booked into investigating loads of fires that hadn’t happened.
The amazing resumption of the Pre Trial is continued on the PRE TRIAL 2 page.