Murder vctim's files destroyed during homicide inquiry

Wednesday 15 June 2011, 7:36AM
By Red Sky Film and Television

Documentary maker Bryan Bruce says he was appalled to discover that police files on Luana Williams were destroyed during the course of their inquiry into her homicide.

Bruce makes the popular cold case series THE INVESTIGATOR which screens on TV ONE. As part of his research into the mystery of the young Tauranga woman ‘s disappearance 25 years ago, Bruce made an inquiry under the Official Information Act for the release of Ms Williams’ drug files. She had been convicted for selling cannabis in 1983 as part of a police operation code-named “Kiwifruit” and Bruce was keen to assess whether her murder could have been drug related.

In reply to his inquiry, Bruce received a reply from Detective Inspector Paul Berry. In a letter dated 5 October 2001, Berry informed Bruce the files were destroyed "somewhere around 1988 or 1989 in accordance with police instructions" but did not know who had issued that order.

"I was appalled to discover the police had destroyed files which may have contained useful information about Luana's drug associates at a time when her disappearance was already being treated as a homicide," says Bruce.

"It seems to me this was either an act of incompetence or a sinister action by someone in the police who did not want whatever information was in those files to be seen."

"That Luana's death was being treated as a homicide just three months after her disappearance is clear from other police documents released under the Official Information Act,” said Bruce

"When I rang Bob Bevege, the former detective who ran Operation Kiwifruit, the news that Luana's drug files had been destroyed came as a complete surprise to him.”

"It was obvious no one from Police Headquarters had rung him as a result of my inquiry, so I doubt they made any real effort to answer my questions."

"The destruction of files on a murder victim during the course of a homicide inquiry should be a matter of the gravest concern to any law enforcement agency concerned about maintaining its integrity," said Bruce.
The results of Bruce's investigation into the death of Luana Williams screens this Wednesday 15 June at 9.30pm on TV ONE.