Mur­der that ‘shocked’ na­tion

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - BENN BATH­GATE

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.

Nooroa Manu holds up Re­gan Ware’s All Black Sev­ens top dur­ing the auc­tion.

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