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Louis Chemis
This case has now come under investigation from Louis Chemis's relatives, who are trying to prove his innocence. A book on the crime is due out next year.
On 31 May 1889, Thomas Hawkings was murdered. He was shot twice and stabbed with a stiletto (double sided blade) approximatley 21 times. The District Coroner, Mr HW Robinson had said at the inquest that Hawkings had not met with accidental death but that the jury of six men would have to decide whether he met with foul play.

Louis Chemis leased land from Thomas Hawkings on the Kaiwharra Cart Road which was the entrance to Hawkings house. Chemis was employed by the Hutt County Council as a roadworker. He was Italian and married to Mary, an Irish woman. They had three children. Louis Chemis had been known to have argued with Hawkings about the lease on his land prior to the murder.

Louis Chemis denied at the time of his arrest and in Court on 8th July, 1889, that he had murdered Hawkings. The police were accused of bungling the case and the evidence. In August, after some negative publicity and a petition, the Executive Council commuted the sentence of Chemis from death to life imprisonment.

The reason he was released from Lyttleton Gaol was Queen Victoria's Jubliee, his name was on an amnesty list. On 22 June 1897 he was released. He was not able to find work and on 22 October 1898, took his own life.

Whether he committed the crime or not may never be answered, but in different circumstances with a different person, the outcome may have been different.


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Louis Chemis released from Lyttelton Gaol on 22 June 1897.

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