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Peter Ellis wins right to appeal convictions in Supreme Court

Peter Ellis, photographed in October 2015 with his dog, Florence Mae Poodle, on Leithfield Beach in North Canterbury. Photo/Martin Hunter.

Terminally-ill Peter Ellis' last bid to clear his name takes a step forward.

Peter Ellis, the former Christchurch Civic Creche worker who was convicted of sexual abuse of children in the 90s, can begin the effort to try and clear his name – for the third time.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1993, serving seven of those, but has always maintained his innocence.

Ellis had been working at the central-city creche for about five years and became the focus of an intense police investigation into bizarre satanic, ritualistic child sex abuse.

Today, the Supreme Court granted Mr Ellis’ application for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeal's 1999 decision to dismiss his appeal against conviction.

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Ellis was convicted of 16 charges of sexual abuse against seven children in 1991.

He has appealed twice to the Court of Appeal; the first appeal quashed three of the convictions, the second was dismissed in 1999.

This month, he applied to the Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort to clear his name. Ellis has a terminal illness and only a few months left to live.

He submitted that the interviews with the children did not follow best practice and there was a "strong possibility of contamination of the evidence"; the jury was not appropriately assisted at trial by the expert witnesses; and there was unreliable expert evidence.  

The case divided New Zealanders, with some claiming Ellis was the victim of a witch-hunt.