Another convicted Kiwi killer claims his innocence: John Barlow claims: 'I am innocent'
Wife Angela and daughter Keryn believe in John Barlow's innocence. Days away from release, convicted double murderer John Barlow has spoken out from behind bars of his fight to clear his name.
Barlow was jailed for the 1994 execution-style shooting of wealthy businessman Gene Thomas, 68, and his son Eugene, 30, late one evening in their central Wellington offices, barely 500m from Parliament.
Sixteen years on, the Parole Board has agreed to the 64-year-old's release despite his continued refusal to admit the killings.
The murders were initially suspected to be a Mafia-style hit. But, at his third trial, the former antique collector was found to have shot the Thomases with a restored gun from his collection.
The police seized his entire gun collection and he will not now be allowed to own firearms.
His daughter Keryn has drafted a book about the case which he has assisted with on the six occasions that he has been allowed home visits in preparation for his release from Rimutaka Prison, north of Wellington.
Barlow agreed to answer written questions from the Herald on Sunday - the first time he has spoken publicly since he was convicted at his third trial.
He said he was proud of Keryn for writing the book which he hoped would help in his continuing legal battles to have his murder convictions overturned.
"I am innocent," he insisted. "When something is wrong, it is very hard to just let it stand ... It will be good then, that the truth is out."
He said he had read the draft manuscript.
"It is an amazing achievement as the case as a whole is very complex and the book required a considerable amount of research to ensure that it will withstand scrutiny."
Jail was an eye-opening experience for Barlow, a businessman from the middle-class Wellington suburb of Karori.
He served some of his sentence at Paremoremo maximum security prison, near Auckland, where he met such notorious murderers as David Tamihere and Graeme Burton.
The Parole Board refused to release Barlow in February, after he blotted his copybook by taking a dust mask from the prison workshop back to his cell - a prohibited item.
Since being sacked from the prison workshop he has been on a prison work gang building pathways in the Porirua suburb of Whitby.
He was also found to have traded cigarettes for fruit and other food. Trading is banned in prisons because it enables other prisoners to buy drugs.
But Barlow has always tested clean for drugs. And this month the Parole Board found that, despite an accumulation of fruit and cigarettes in his cell, there was no proof that he was still trading.
Accordingly, Barlow is looking forward to a decent home-cooked meal. He said he had missed many foods, but particularly lamb.
After his home visits this year, he has told the Parole Board that going home is just like returning from a business trip. He has no fears, no qualms about life "outside the wire".
The family of Gene and Eugene Thomas have said they are philosophical about Barlow's release - they just do not want to go through the pain of having the case publicly relitigated.
But Barlow's family, wife Angela and daughter Keryn, are hoping that the "real" murderer will one day own up.
Keryn said neither she nor her mother had ever asked Barlow whether he shot the Thomases - they trusted him. "He could not do that ... I also know the evidence inside out which absolutely proves he didn't do it."
Exclusive extract: daughter's book describes 'monumental battle'
John Barlow's daughter, Keryn, has written a book about the family's 15 years battling the police, court and prison systems. She has provided the Herald on Sunday with exclusive extracts from the as yet unpublished book:
"I still have an incredibly vivid memory of the day my father was arrested.
On 23 June 1994 I was at the CIT where I was studying when someone came and called me out of class as there was a phone call for me.
I do not know why but I immediately knew they had arrested my father. I got to the phone and my mother confirmed my suspicions. We were both very calm as we still had that naive unswerving conviction that since we knew they had the wrong man, they would figure it out.
This continued until the end of our hearing in the Court of Appeal when we suddenly realised that not only were they (the justice system) not going to figure it out, it seemed that they had no intention of even trying to do so.
I know it seems strange, but it really did not hit us until then. We were just doing what we felt we needed to do to sort all of this out. I was 20 and my brother was 22. We were bewildered by the whole experience and I think it was the calmness and strength of our parents that made it seem more normal that it was."
Acknowledgements: Auckland Herald