Protection order failure

By Amy Shanks, Anna Ferrick

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Gail Bower was murdered at her house by her ex-partner.
Gail Bower was murdered at her house by her ex-partner.

Neighbours of a murdered Havelock North woman and her ex-partner who killed her have expressed their relief that he has pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering her.

Raymond Shane Christison, 48, admitted at the Hastings District Court yesterday to stabbing his former partner of 20 years, Gail Bower, to death, while she had a protection order out against him.

A protection order is made by a judge to protect a person from domestic violence.Christison's lawyer, Tony Snell, entered guilty pleas to one charge of murder and one charge of breaching a protection order on his behalf.

Yesterday a neighbour of the two told Hawke's Bay Today she was relieved by the guilty pleas as it meant the couple's sons would not have to endure the court process for much longer.

"He's done the right thing there."

The former couple had two sons together, Mathew, 19, and Daniel, 21, and were living apart at the time the incident occurred. Ms Bower's body was discovered by her son Mathew on the night of June 7.

One person who spoke to Hawke's Bay Today said Ms Bower's murder was a "bolt out of the blue" for the normally quiet neighbourhood.

She said she'd never heard any disturbances in the area and was not even aware that Ms Bower had moved out of the family home on Keirunga Rd.

She said she was glad Christison pleaded guilty yesterday.

At the time, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Foster confirmed Ms Bower suffered multiple stab wounds inflicted by a knife that was found at the scene.

Christison was found by police a short time later with cuts to his throat and wrists. He was admitted to hospital and underwent surgery for his injuries before being charged.

The couple had split about four months before the incident and Ms Bower had moved into a house in Havelock North.

"As far as that goes, we thought everything was going down the right track," Ms Bower's brother John said. "But along the way something snapped - we never saw this coming. Everyone is just completely, totally devastated."

At Ms Bower's funeral Matthew, with brother Daniel at his side, paid tribute to, "an amazing little lady" who overcame adversity with a smile.

He had noticed a huge change since Ms Bower split from their father - as though that weight had been lifted.

Yesterday in court Mr Snell asked for the summary of facts not to be read and said there were still some aspects of it that were yet to be agreed upon.

It will be transferred to the Crown Prosecutor's office who will deal with the case from now.

Judge Tony Adeane remanded Christison in custody to reappear in court on October 23 for sentencing at the Napier High Court.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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