Long sentence relief for family

By Jill Nicholas, Kiri Gillespie

The family and friends of murdered Tauranga woman Robyn Prole are pleased her killer's sentence reflects "the horror of what happened".

Sister Nancy Hogg said justice had been done after Rex Prole was jailed for more than 11 years yesterday.

"It's now taken nearly 10 months for this outcome. We just hope this is going to be okay," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"It is a relief."

Her comments came after Prole, 42, appeared for sentence in the High Court at Rotorua. He was jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years and six months after stabbing his wife to death in Judea last year.

Family members chose not to attend yesterday's sentencing "because we knew he'd play up", a spokesperson said.

"We made a decision we weren't going to go and as it turned out he was loud and abusive.

We were aware that he would be."

The family instead kept in contact via phone from across the North Island.

Mrs Prole worked as a teacher aide at Brookfield School. Principal Robert Hyndman said he was pleased the sentence "reflected the horror of what happened".

"That a kind and gentle person was taken from us by a very unkind and ungentle man. She deserved better," Mr Hyndman said.

"We couldn't be happier to put Rex Prole from our minds and forget about him now."

In court yesterday, Rex Leverett John Prole yelled "my wife was a liar" as he was led away to begin his jail term.

Justice Kit Toogood earlier ordered Prole to be quiet when he tried to speak.

He told Prole his lawyer, Glenn Dixon, had already spoken on his behalf.

Justice Toogood described the case as "tragic" and Prole's actions as "brutal" and twice expressed the court's condolences to Mrs Prole's family.

He also expressed sympathy to her former neighbour left traumatised by the sight of Prole stabbing his wife 11 times in the neck, chest and stomach.

The neighbour was present in court, surrounded by supporters. Outside the courthouse, she declined to speak about her ordeal.

The neighbour's victim impact statement indicated Prole's brutality had a profound effect on her, and she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares, had difficulty relating to people and had had to sell her house.

"She says the day of the attack was the day you ruined her life," Justice Toogood said.

Referring to victim impact statements from Mrs Prole's son and sister, the judge said the death had left her son overcome with grief. He had become scared and jumped at loud noises.

"Your offending didn't come as a surprise to him," the judge told Prole.

In her written statement, Mrs Prole's sister said her grandchildren no longer had someone they called "aunty" and losing her sister without being able to say goodbye had been traumatic.

A motorcycle accident in 1993 had impaired Prole neurologically but reports from three psychiatrists made it clear they considered he was fit to plead. One said he could be in the early stages of dementia.

Justice Toogood noted Prole had five convictions for threatening to kill, one for assaulting a female, two for possessing a weapon and six for breaching protection and non-molestation orders.

Mrs Prole had taken out a protection order against Prole two months before her death.

The judge said a rift developed within a month of their marriage in 2010.

Mrs Prole continued to collect her mail from the mailbox after moving out. She usually left immediately, but on the day of her death she had been checking her mail in the car when Prole saw her.

"You took a multi-purpose knife which you concealed in your pants and walked the 30 metres down the driveway," the judge said.

"You were heard yelling at her and seen reaching through the open driver's window, grabbing her, pulling out the knife and stabbing her, she was screaming at you."

Prole had restrained his wife as she tried to move to the passenger side of the car, had stabbed her again and removed the keys from the ignition to stop her driving away.

"When a neighbour yelled at you to stop you told her to ring the police and moved away ... sadly Mrs Prole died in the driveway."

He told Prole his offending was premeditated and inflicted with the intention of doing harm. "Your estranged wife suffered a prolonged attack and had defence wounds on her arms and hands."

Pole told a probation officer he loved his wife but had become increasingly frustrated by what he said was her lying to him and her friends about him.

"You tried to blame her for your offending, saying you didn't believe you were a violent person," Justice Toogood said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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