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

Peter Ellis, man at centre of Chch creche sex case, has died

Peter Ellis dies while appealing convictions.

Peter Ellis, the former Christchurch Civic Creche worker who was convicted of sexual abuse of children in the 90s, has died aged 61.

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.

He was convicted of 16 charges of sexual abuse against seven children in 1991 but three convictions were overturned in 1994 after one of the children said she lied.

In July, he applied to the Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort to clear his name – Ellis had a terminal illness.

In July he was granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court to consider whether there was a miscarriage of justice. His legal team 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.

From the archives: Why the Peter Ellis Civic Creche Case won’t go away|New Zealand's most famous unsolved murders

Related articles: Peter Ellis wins right to appeal convictions in Supreme CourtTop investigator urges police to speak up about wrongful convictions

Peter Ellis with his then-lawyer Judith Ablett Kerr, QC, after his release from prison in 2000. Photo/Paddy Dillon/Getty.