The Dim-Post

June 23, 2016

What if the operation never ended?

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 7:14 am

Andrew Geddis describes the ‘Mr Big’ operation used to convict murderer Kamal Reddy:

To obtain Reddy’s confession, the police unpacked their “Crime Scenario Undercover Technique”; or, as it’s better known overseas, ran a “Mr Big” sting on him. In essence, the police tricked Reddy into thinking he was joining a criminal syndicate by infiltrating an undercover officer into his life who then involved him in a series of (sham) criminal offences for which he was paid small amounts of money. These “offences” brought him into contact with a number of other undercover police officers playing a range of roles connected with the “syndicate” and took him to various parts of New Zealand, including down to Queenstown for a holiday/apparent drug deal. One of the characters in this performance was an apparently corrupt cop, whom Reddy was led to believe could make any legal problems of the syndicate’s members disappear.

Following a period of initiation into this “syndicate”, Reddy was told that in order to join it as a full member he would have to pass an interview with its “Mr Big”. At that interview, Reddy was cajoled (but not compelled) into divulging what had happened to his wife and daughter on the grounds that without full disclosure of his past the syndicate could not trust him. He then took took a fellow “syndicate member” to the place where he had buried the bodies. Having obtained Reddy’s confession on film and substantiated it with the victims’ remains, the police dropped the act and arrested him for murder. And at his subsequent trial the main prosecution witnesses were his fellow “syndicate members”, telling the jury just how they had conned Reddy into implicating himself for the crimes.

It’s a trope of a lot of crime writing that police and the criminal underworld are mirror images of each other, and that the existence of the police calls the criminals into existence. I think this is mostly nonsense, but there is a weird symmetry thing going on here. Reddy was pretending not to be a murderer, which justified the police pretending not to be police. When Reddy stopped pretending the police could too. Which makes me wonder what happens when one of these techniques gets deployed against someone who didn’t actually do anything, and thus can’t stop pretending and break the symmetry. How long does the ruse go on for?


  1. “How long does the ruse go on for?”

    who knows – but i can see it working as an alternate human future sci fi kind of thing

    Comment by framu — June 23, 2016 @ 7:54 am

  2. The Aussies ran a similar one recently, and it got into the media as a result of evidence given in the trial. Including video of aspects of the sting.

    Comment by Stephanie — June 23, 2016 @ 8:06 am

  3. Why didn’t they keep this sting on the down low so that it could be more readily used again should the need arise?

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — June 23, 2016 @ 8:24 am

  4. This is (one of) the concerns about the technique. For one thing, the operations all happen purely on the police hierarchy’s say-so … there’s no external check on the operation (in terms of requiring warrants, etc). So really the only constraints are internal police guidelines and fiscal limits – these things aren’t cheap to run, so police bosses probably won’t pay for them forever. For another, after having spent so much time/effort on the operation (into someone the cops are pretty convinced is guilty), there’s likely a real pressure to produce a result. Consequently, the final interview with “Mr Big” is not going to be satisfied with a “I didn’t do it” – it’s made very clear to the suspect that any denials are not believed. So, at some point does the suspect decide he must give “Mr Big” the “confession” he clearly expects, given that it is cost free (the gang won’t kick him out) and has tangible benefits (entry into a financially beneficial operation plus the gang can apparently lift the police’s pressure off his back)?

    Of course, none of this really applies to Reddy – once you let the police take your photo atop the victims’ graves that you led them to, you are stuffed.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 23, 2016 @ 8:26 am

  5. These operations appear to aim at a particular critical point of disclosure which would be an end point if there was no disclosure as well.

    As for the general worth of confessions, it’s for a court to test any evidence. A court failed Pora and wil most likely fail others in the future.

    Comment by NeilM — June 23, 2016 @ 8:27 am

  6. Because it will all be discussed in court

    Comment by Adrian — June 23, 2016 @ 8:27 am

  7. Why didn’t they keep this sting on the down low so that it could be more readily used again should the need arise?

    1. Because the High Court said that it could be reported.

    2. Because in a free and open society, we ought to know how our police are undertaking their law enforcement duties so we can evaluate them for ourselves.

    3. Because if you look online, you can find lots of discussion about how it has been/is being used in Australia and Canada. Yet, despite that discussion, the technique still is successfully deployed in those places.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 23, 2016 @ 8:31 am

  8. Investigative techniques are being revealed all the time. There’s not really anyway of preventing that.

    Comment by NeilM — June 23, 2016 @ 8:39 am

  9. “Of course, none of this really applies to Reddy – once you let the police take your photo atop the victims’ graves that you led them to, you are stuffed.”

    How does that work, though? I’m still catching up on this case because I’d not heard of it until the last few days, but given the apparent incentives to claim to have committed the crime, did Police (in this case) produce convincing evidence that he didn’t simply happen to know where the bodies were for some other reason?

    Comment by izogi — June 23, 2016 @ 9:07 am

  10. You forgot #4

    – a lot of criminals are really stupid so it wouldn’t matter what you publish

    Comment by insider — June 23, 2016 @ 9:14 am

  11. Nice Phil K Dick reference Danyl

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 23, 2016 @ 9:26 am

  12. @izogi,

    After his arrest, Reddy told (several changing) stories about how he had just buried the bodies to cover up the killings by another (never fully identified) person. The jury was then tasked with deciding whether this (shifting) account was true, or whether Reddy’s statement to Mr Big was true. I’m not all that uncomfortable with their conclusion.

    That may be compared to a (completely hypothetical) case where no body is ever found, a person “confesses” to the killing and says they put the body “in the sea”, then after arrest says that they invented the tale because they thought Mr Big wouldn’t take them on unless they made some sort of story up (because he seemed not to believe their claim of innocence). Asking a jury to decide which is more likely makes me a bit nervous.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 23, 2016 @ 9:27 am

  13. This technique is actually entrapment, There are inherent dangers.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — June 23, 2016 @ 9:51 pm

  14. Long enough for the ruse to completely derail your life.

    Comment by Bruce — June 24, 2016 @ 5:54 am

  15. “This technique is actually entrapment,”

    It’s only entrapment if he’s prosecuted for the crimes that he supposedly committed at the instigation of undercover officers, which he presumably won’t be. Entrapment is when the crime prosecuted wouldn’t have taken place without the encouragment/initiative of undercover personel. Since he’s being prosecuted for crimes that occurred before the whole “Mr Big” chain of events took place, they’re in the clear.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 24, 2016 @ 6:09 am

  16. This comment from Innocence Canada looks at a Mr Big case that did go to appeal and the legal issues concerning admission of confessions to trial and of course the ‘big one’ , an accused ‘s right to silence when being questioned by police.
    There was a Mr Big case in Canada which later had DNA evidence which showed an accused had made a false confession.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — June 24, 2016 @ 12:36 pm

  17. Link for above here

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — June 24, 2016 @ 12:37 pm

  18. Long enough for the ruse to completely derail your life.

    Just ask Barry George and Colin Stagg, wrongly accused (and in George’s case, wrongly convicted) of murder.

    Comment by Ross — June 24, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

  19. Operation 8.

    As many months, as the taxpayer will fund, before the deception & racism get called out in the Supreme Court.

    22 arrestees, no charges under TSA, lengthy process leads to most charges being dropped, only convictions 1 drug offence (cleared off in Nov 2007, accidental by catch on 15 Oct 2007), and four firearms licensing offences, all to do with antique shotguns that were family tāonga.
    You actually can’t get much worse racism in policing than what happened from mid-2006 to the end of 2010, during Operation 8.

    Comment by anarkaytie — June 25, 2016 @ 9:55 am

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