Father’s death a family tragedy
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.