Fa­ther’s death a family tragedy

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - DONNA-LEE BID­DLE

Rochai Ta­iaroa chokes up as she re­counts the fi­nal mo­ments of her fa­ther’s life.

‘‘One of the most dif­fi­cult im­ages I have to deal with comes from know­ing that when Dad saw the gun pointed at him, he would have thought of us.

‘‘I know he wasn’t wor­ried for his safety, he would have been wor­ried for us.’’

Ge­orge Charles Ta­iaroa, 67, was shot dead in March 2013 as he op­er­ated a stop-go sign in Ati­a­muri.

Tha man found guilty of his mur­der, Quin­ton Paul Win­ders, was sen­tenced on Fri­day to a min­i­mum of 17 years in prison by Jus­tice Kit Too­good at the High Court in Ro­torua.

Rochai read her vic­tim im­pact state­ment to the court.

She was sup­ported by family in the pub­lic gallery.

‘‘I was at the gym when a news bul­letin came on the TV stat­ing that a stop-go worker had been killed in Toko­roa.

‘‘My first thought was, thank god Dad wasn’t in Toko­roa. My sec­ond thought was that I re­ally felt for the vic­tim’s family.

‘‘Re­turn­ing home, I thought noth­ing more about it un­til I re­ceived a phone call to say that Dad had been killed,’’ she said, weep­ing.

Win­ders’ sis­ter Mi­randa Win­ders ad­dressed me­dia out­side the court.

She said all in the family were sad­dened by the lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism shown by the New Zealand Po­lice.

‘‘The way that they have han­dled this case, based off cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence and in­crim­i­nat­ing and fram­ing an in­no­cent man who has never met Ge­orge Ta­iaroa and could not ever iden­tify Ge­orge prior to this case.

‘‘Quin­ton Win­ders is an in­no­cent man and sadly, with great re­gret, this is not clo­sure for ei­ther family at this time.’’

Rochai re­counted a mo­ment shortly after her fa­ther’s tangi in­volv­ing his mokop­una, or grand­chil­dren.

‘‘I watched for a while and saw that they were try­ing to reach a photo, a photo of Dad that we had placed on the win­dow sill,’’ Ta­iaroa said.

‘‘They were help­ing each other to tippy-toe so they could kiss the photo.

‘‘When I asked them what they were do­ing, they said they were giv­ing Koko a kiss be­cause they missed him.’’ to con­sider a max­i­mum 10-year sen­tence for Win­ders.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Amanda Gor­don asked for a pe­riod of 15 to 16 years.

Jus­tice Too­good im­posed a 17-year non­pa­role pe­riod, ad­dress­ing Win­ders di­rectly when say­ing: ’’It was an en­tirely un­pro­voked at­tack on an un­sus­pect­ing man.

‘‘You de­nied and con­tinue to deny you are Mr Ta­iaroa’s killer. The jury’s ver­dict means they were sat­is­fied be­yond rea­son­able doubt that you were - and I agree.’’

Win­ders’ sis­ter Mi­randa Win­ders said all in the family were sad­dened by the lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism shown by the New Zealand Po­lice.

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