Trial adjourned due to lack of jurors

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Menzies Hallett. Photo / Christine Cornege
Menzies Hallett. Photo / Christine Cornege

The trial of a man accused of gunning down a Turangi service station attendant more than 30 years ago has been adjourned until tomorrow because of a lack of jurors.

Menzies Reginald John Hallett appeared in the High Court at Rotorua this morning charged with murdering Rodney Tahu in the early hours of August 16, 1979. Hallett, 72, pleaded not guilty.

The trial, before Justice Ailsa Duffy, was delayed after only 11 jurors were confirmed. The remaining candidates were challenged or excused.

The case was earlier adjourned until 2.15pm today to try to find more jurors, but again there were not enough people available this afternoon.

The case has now been adjourned until 10am tomorrow.

Prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch is appearing for the Crown and defence lawyer Paul Mabey QC is representing Hallett.

A passing motorist found 32-year-old Mr Tahu lying in a pool of blood next to a pump in the forecourt of the Shell station.

The Saturday morning rugby referee and married father of two had suffered gunshot wounds to his head and shoulder.

He was rushed to Taumarunui Hospital but died a few hours later.

Mr Tahu's killing shocked the Turangi community and kick-started a major manhunt, but it remained a cold case until late 2011.

Police believed it was the longest-running cold case in New Zealand's history to end in an arrest.

Hallett's trial, once underway, is expected to run for about two weeks.

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