The "Car" Story

Tony Moller thinks it is relevant that my father owned an orange station wagon in 1975.

The car in which Mona Blades was last seen was a Datsun 1200. Multiple witnesses saw it. There were no fewer than seven separate witnesses at the outset who all said the car was a Datsun, plus a number who came along over the next few months.

In the early stages of the investigation the Police checked out every orange Datsun 1200 in the country. They then widened the search to include all Datsun station wagons, and at about the same time asked for information about any orange Datsuns that might have been repainted.

My fatherís car at the time was orange, but it was a Toyota station wagon. He never owned a Datsun of any sort.

When the story about the house excavation became public, TV3 reported on the news that my father had owned a Datsun. I complained about this because it was false and because earlier in the day I had provided TV3 with a photograph showing the Toyota, so they knew their information was wrong when they broadcast it. The response I received was that Tony Moller had shown the TV3 reporter a Police job sheet, presumably from the 1970ís, which recorded a conversation between a Kawerau police officer and my father and referred to his car as being a Datsun. If that is right (I do not have the job sheet so canít check for myself) the police officer was incorrect in what he wrote on the job sheet, but if he genuinely thought dad owned a Datsun it would explain why he was talking to dad about it in the first place. It could also have been because apparently at a later stage of the investigation the Police started checking orange cars, regardless of make or model Ė two different people have told us of family membersí cars having been checked just because of their colour.

Tony Moller knew the information on the job sheet was wrong, because he supplied the Police with photos that he said were of my fatherís car. The photos are clearly of a Toyota.

A very interesting question is how Tony Moller got hold of the job sheet in the first place. The most likely options are that he simply took it when he was still a policeman, or that a serving policeman gave it to him. Either way, it seems probable that he came by it unlawfully and so I have lodged a complaint about this with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, which is investigating.

After the excavation at 3 Kirk Crescent, Tony gave the Police the name of a man who, he said, would confirm that dad had owned a Datsun as well as a Toyota, and that this man had painted parts of both cars. The police interviewed that man. He did not confirm anything of the sort Ė he didnít remember what cars dad had owned and he didnít remember working on any of them. Not surprising as none of dadís cars were ever painted. The Corolla was, by the way, still orange in 1978 which is the date on the back of this photo.

Another part of the story that Tony told the Police, according to an internal Police email, was that ďa woman rang a Gisborne radio station in the 80ís claiming to have been attacked by a man in an orange station wagon who looked like the identicate (sic) of the blades (sic)offender. She said the vehicle rego was HH..44. This is very similar to Hinton Toyota Rego. Hinton is rumoured to have picked girls up in his vehicle and resembles the identicate (sic).Ē

It is true that a person, apparently a woman, sent an anonymous letter to the Gisborne police in mid July 1975, only a few weeks after Ms Blades disappeared. In the letter she said that she had been hitchhiking on the same day as Ms Blades, and on the same road. She had been picked up by an orange Datsun station wagon. She got out of the car because she didnít like the driverís behaviour. Later in the day she was picked up by an elderly couple and while they were driving they saw the same car parked on the side of the road (this was on the Napier road). She remembered that part of the number plate was H..4. She thought that the second letter was probably K, but it might have been B or E.

Despite widespread media publicity, including fresh publicity when the Mona Blades case was re-examined in 2005, neither the writer of the letter nor the elderly couple was ever located so whether it was genuine or a hoax is not known.

Points to note here, that are quite different to what Tony apparently told the Police:

  1. The woman didnít say she had been attacked;
  2. She said, explicitly, that the car was an orange Datsun;
  3. The number plate had two letters and four numbers, with there being three possibilities for the second letter Ė but none of those possibilities was an H. There were two 4s, but those were in between two other numbers;
  4. She didnít say the driver resembled the Identikit. She didnít even mention the Identikit.

According to Tony, the registration number of dadís Toyota was HH1944. I havenít been able to find out if that is true or not, but given that the woman stated quite clearly that the car she got into was a Datsun (not a Toyota) whose number plate started with either HK, HB or HE (not HH), it really doesnít seem relevant.

As to the rumour that dad used to pick girls up in his car, the Police file doesnít contain one single piece of evidence to back this up, not even from Tony. I can only assume he made it up.

By the way, the Identikit pictures of the man seen by the early witnesses show a man with a receding hairline and, in one picture, with a widowís peak. Dadís hair never receded, he had a full head of hair right until he died, and he did not have a widowís peak. He parted his hair to one side and did so his entire life; and back in the 1970ís he used to Brylcreem his hair. The Identikit does not show any of this.

 

 
  

 © COPYRIGHT 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED PAULINE BARRATT