Accused in court as death probe goes on

A 48-year-old man appeared in court yesterday charged with male assaults female in relation to the death of Gail Bower on Friday.

He was remanded in custody to reappear next Tuesday in Hastings District Court.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Foster said the charge may be upgraded to a more serious one in the coming days.

He told Hawke's Bay Today the man, who has interim name suppression, was discharged from Hutt Hospital yesterday and returned to the Bay to appear in court.

Mr Foster said scene examinations should wrap up today and interviews with Ms Bower's friends, family and co-workers would continue for much of the week. He said: "The investigation is progressing well and we now have a clearer picture of what took place on Friday evening".

Colleagues of Ms Bower, 48, were in shock yesterday as they turned up to work at ANZ in Havelock North without their long-time co-worker. David Graham, retail manager for ANZ in Hawke's Bay, said Ms Bower had been with the bank for a "good 12 years" and was a much-loved member of staff.

"Gail was a genuine person, loved by her team and by customers and very professional."

Staff had been brought in from across the region to deal with customers yesterday and colleagues of Ms Bower had been offered counselling over the weekend.

Mr Graham told the Hawke's Bay Today there was a designated trauma team working with the staff and would continue to do so.

He said everyone was holding up "remarkably well".

"Everyone is looking after each other. It's important that there is a sense of togetherness."

Mr Graham said quite a few customers had come in to the branch in relation to Ms Bower and the staff were conscious of the impact her death may have on them.

Her family were holding up, as the last members arrived in Hawke's Bay from throughout the country, yesterday afternoon.

"We are just waiting on the oldest brother, he will be here at 3pm ... We're not going too bad," Ms Bower's brother John said.

The funeral is to be held at Havelock North Community Centre on Thursday from 11am.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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