Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Struggle as Longleys return to NZ

Emily and mother Caroline Longley. Photo / Supplied
Emily and mother Caroline Longley. Photo / Supplied

After placing their lives on hold for a year while they sought justice for their daughter, Mark and Caroline Longley return to New Zealand this weekend seeking a return to normality.

Emily Longley's murderer Elliot Turner, 20, will spend at least the next 16 years behind bars, and his parents Leigh and Anita await sentence for trying to cover up the crime.

Mark will return to the Bay of Plenty town of Whakatane, where he lives with his new partner, while Caroline and daughter Hannah, 16, will resume their lives in Auckland.

Sitting through five weeks of at times lurid details about their Emily's life and death was hard enough. But they also had to cope with being eyeballed by the parents of their daughter's killer every day in court.

At no stage did Turner's parents show any hint of remorse towards the Longleys.

Mark said: "We passed them two or three times every day in the courtroom and (Anita) would often stare at Caroline and me as if it was our fault that Turner was there.

It was quite remarkable."

During the case the court heard a recording of a "chilling" call made to emergency services by Turner's mother - more than 30 minutes after she discovered the body.

"When we started none of us knew the extent of it but as the case unfolded and we heard the call I thought 'I hope you go to prison because it was the most callous and inhumane display I had ever seen'," said Mark.

"I found (the parents) very arrogant, cocky, everything was everybody else's fault and I can't fathom it."

He said the father appeared to have been convinced to pervert the course of justice by his wife, from whom he is now estranged.

Such was the level of secrecy around the police case against Turner that Mark only learned how his daughter died when it was detailed in the prosecution's opening.

The hardest times for the Longleys were when they learned of the horrific strangulation, hearing of Turner's seething rage towards their helpless daughter, and realising that despite all the warning signs, no one intervened to save Emily.

Throughout the trial, the Longleys kept a promise to maintain an air of dignity to honour Emily's memory.

- Herald on Sunday

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