Murder that ‘shocked’ nation
A minor traffic accident sparked a series of events that ultimately led to the death of a stop-go worker in the South Waikato, a jury has been told.
Quinton Winders, 45, stood in the dock of the High Court in Rotorua on Monday for the opening day of his trial, where he’s accused of killing that stop-go worker, George Taiaroa while he worked on a one-lane bridge at Atiamuri.
He uttered just these words: ‘‘Not guilty, your honour’’.
During her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon divulged some of the events leading up to that day – including a minor traffic accident at the scene a week earlier.
It involved Winders and his father, Max, backing into another car, causing minor damage to their car.
‘‘No one heard the shot, but the coverage that followed resonated around New Zealand.’’
A witness would come forth to say Winders said, ‘‘if the stop-go guy had been doing his job properly, the accident wouldn’t have occurred,’’ Gordon said. She said the murder shocked the country. ‘‘No one heard the shot, but the coverage that followed resonated around New Zealand.’’
Gordon also described the moment when Taiaroa’s body was discovered by a truck driver, who saw him beckoned over to the window of a blue Jeep Cherokee from which he was shot at.
‘‘He [Taiaroa] was then seen to immediately fall to the ground, the blue jeep cherokee then sped off,’’ Gordon said.
‘‘To his horror, he discovered George Taiaroa had a bullet hole in his forehead.’’
Gordon said the identification of the driver of this car would also unmask the killer – and that Winders owned a blue Jeep Cherokee.
But Winder’s counsel Jonathan Temm, QC, said his client lacked motive for the killing and pointed to a number of issues he said supported his client’s innocence.
‘‘The most obvious one: the complete absence of motive,’’ he said.
Pointing to Winders, Temm addressed the jury directly.
‘‘Is this man here, this man, the man who shot the deceased?’’ he said.
‘‘He doesn’t know Mr Taiaroa, never met him, no dealings with him, no motive to kill him.’’
Speaking to the jury ahead of the trial, Justice Kit Toogood said the burden rested with the Crown to prove Winders’ guilt.
The trial is scheduled to last one month.
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