Father's unanswered question: Who killed my son?

By Andrew Koubaridis

It is almost a year since Ewen Macdonald was cleared of gunning down his brother-in-law Scott Guy. His father is still searching for answers but thinks only a confession could reveal the murderer.

Bryan Guy says he doesn't want Scott's murder to be another infamous cold case, unsolved for decades. Photos / Mark Mitchell, Supplied
Bryan Guy says he doesn't want Scott's murder to be another infamous cold case, unsolved for decades. Photos / Mark Mitchell, Supplied

Bryan Guy insists that justice prevailed when a jury acquitted his son-in-law Ewen Macdonald of the murder of his son Scott.

But he does not believe the jury heard the truth about what happened on an early July morning in 2010.

The acquittal of Macdonald in June last year ended two weeks of intense pressure. One by one, family members gave evidence, all under scrutiny of a media that reported each detail to a fascinated public.

It was a relief to reach the end of the trial and - even though the family still does not know who the killer is - Mr Guy accepts the jury's decision.

"The jury are the ones who heard the evidence and saw everything produced in court and you have to respect that.

"That's the justice process. People have said justice hasn't been served but I think justice has ... prevailed. That's the justice system. But in saying that it didn't necessarily get the whole truth.

"We probably haven't found out the real truth from all of that and haven't got someone convicted for murdering Scott but if we dwell on that it eats you up."

The police have an active homicide inquiry and private investigators are searching for clues, but Mr Guy thinks the only way his son Scott's murder will be solved is if the killer confesses.

He is realistic about what it might take to get a conviction in the case that was called a murder mystery in the courtroom and that some believed played out like reality television through the media.

"There are still, unanswered questions. The main one is who killed Scott? Everyone has got an opinion but proving it - the proof is the unanswered question."

Mr Guy talks easily but when asked if he has an opinion on who the murderer is he pauses. "Well ... yeah," he says.

Asked who that is he says: "I'm not sure if it's for me to publicly say."

The police case is never officially closed until someone is brought to justice - but police this week refused to discuss the case and will only answer Herald questions through the Official Information Act.

But Mr Guy is unsure what they - and the private investigators hired by Scott's widow Kylee Guy - can achieve.

"I don't know - there's probably not a lot they can do. One day somebody's conscience might make them say something I guess. But that might be wishful thinking, mightn't it?"

He didn't want it to be another infamous cold case that went unsolved for decades and was hopeful an arrest would be made. "Most definitely of course, of course, we hope that someone will be held accountable - sooner rather than later.

"Nothing is the same now. Everything has changed and we can't go back, we certainly can't go back. That's why we have to focus on going forward, otherwise we'll forever be unhappy."

Among the "whole truth" the jury wasn't told was that Macdonald had convictions for poaching and, more seriously, the slaughter of calves and arson and vandalism that was directed at Scott and Kylee Guy.

Those offences took place during "revenge" missions in the night which police said were driven by a desire to scare 31-year-old Scott and Kylee off the farm. The killing of calves was in response to being caught poaching.

Macdonald pleaded guilty to those acts during a court hearing that was suppressed, and when it was eventually revealed it brought calls for a review of disclosure rules.

Mr Guy is hesitant about backing those calls. "In some ways you would prefer the jury know everything but also you have to understand to get a fair trial sometimes those things aren't disclosed so you can understand why some things aren't always ... Because you don't want innocent people being found guilty."

Since the trial ended the family have been determined to concentrate on things they have control over.

"I guess the main focus has been trying to restart our lives particularly for our children. There have been a lot of changes happen in the last 10 months."

Anna Guy, the estranged wife of Ewen, has moved to Auckland with her children and is in a new relationship with Brent Jameson. Bryan Guy said the fresh start had been good for them.

"It gives them more confidence in themselves [by] shifting away from their support network and making new friends up there. It's been good for them but it's still not easy."

The youngest son Callum, 27, is now engaged and is living with his fiancee in Queensland.

"It's been good for them to get away and get some independence and make a fresh start. They're not planning to be there all that long - just to get away and be a bit more independent."

Scott's sister Nikki Guy recently got married and is expecting her first child this year, one of many things to be happy about, Mr Guy said.

"There's lots of good things happening so we've been focusing on those things since the trial finished. It was a huge ordeal and was a relief to get that out of the way. There was a huge build-up beforehand, regardless of the outcome, so it was a relief just to be finished with it and get that behind us and move on."

Although a conviction would have brought closure it would not have brought satisfaction for Scott's parents.

"I think for myself and probably for Jo, I can't speak for the others ... we knew there would be no winners going through that process."

They were told by the Crown prosecutor quite early on that his job was to represent the public. "[He] wasn't there to represent us or Scott ... so I thought it doesn't matter what the outcome is, it's really not going to bring Scott back so we went into the trial thinking we weren't going to win regardless. We'd lost a son and a son-in-law ... with the things we knew Ewen already admitted to, we'd lost the trust in him and the relationship we had with him was gone before we even got to trial."

By that stage Anna Guy had begun to move on as well - she'd told him their relationship was over.

They are all aware though that Macdonald will be released from prison, perhaps within months. He is serving a sentence of five years for the crimes he admitted and his next parole hearing is scheduled for November. He was declined parole at a hearing last December.

Before that meeting he will have to undergo a psychological assessment, after a previous report found, among other things, he displayed "an over-controlled personality that relies excessively on denial and repression to cope with and avoid anger".

The Parole Board won't know what that assessment says until about a month before the hearing.

When Macdonald is released, Bryan and Jo want nothing to do with him. "Like I say we lost that trust or his trust and really we won't be seeking him out to go and build any relationship with him." It was hard to know what it would be like when he was released. They are forever tied to him through four grandchildren.

"[I've] thought about it a little bit and certainly there will be a time he does get released. It's just a matter of when."

There has been no contact with Macdonald's parents in recent times. Kerry and Marlene Macdonald have stood by their son and have said they accept his version of events.

Mr Guy: "I feel sorry for them because it puts them into a terrible situation."

A year ago the Guy family were bracing themselves for the trial and the inevitable publicity it would bring. But they were still surprised at the level of interest and the toll it took while giving evidence.

"I suppose it was very public. Plenty of others go through similar things but it was so public and we don't know if we got used to it - more sort of managed to cope with it - but being so public made it more, a little more ... well people followed it more."

The trial was front-page news and led television and radio bulletins. When it was over the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, indicated she would review the rules that allowed cameras in courts after what she called "reality television" coverage.

After the acquittal, Ms Collins said: "You had Kylee Guy and Anna Guy, cameras trained on them ... it was good TV but it was nothing to do with the justice system. It abused those women by having them in their moments of raw emotion beamed into everybody's TV screens at night.

"That is not good for the judicial system, and it is not good for those people who have been through hell, to see it time and time again."

Mr Guy was aware of the concern. "There was one comment someone made about it being reality television without the prizes."

He said having the cameras in court, and many journalists, was unnerving but something they had to endure, much like giving evidence. They were told not to read the newspaper or watch television news and coped day by day.

"You have to learn to eat regular meals. It was hard to eat anything before going to the witness box. You don't feel like eating when your stomach is in knots.

"At the time it seems quite obvious [having to eat] but you have to consciously make yourself eat and drink so your brain is in gear."

Even though months have passed, it still occasionally felt like they were "watching a movie".

"It doesn't feel real. We had huge support from people around the country and in a funny sort of way you kind of get comfort from that. People stop and say hello, shake hands or hug, all people you don't know."

It was that sort of support, and a desire for the family to survive Scott's death and Ewen's arrest, that makes Bryan Guy determined the family will not be defined by the past.

"Bad things happen to a lot of people but we have to look forward and make a positive contribution. We want to be happy and see the kids happy with what they're doing and leading fulfilling lives and bringing up children that are going to be happy and fulfilled as well."

The Herald understands that Bryan and Jo Guy are writing a book about their ordeal. It is to be published soon. Mr Guy declined to comment about the book, other than to say "watch this space".

Case that gripped the nation

What happened to Scott Guy?

He was murdered in his driveway on July 8, 2010, as he left for work. Mr Guy was shot in the throat at close range when he got out of his ute to open the farm gates. The killer left distinctive footprints and the dead man's blood pooled in them.

Who is Ewen Macdonald?

The son of Kerry and Marlene Macdonald, Ewen had known Scott Guy's sister Anna since he was a teenager. He had always wanted to be a farmer and they married and had four children. Scott was their best man.

Scott and Ewen, along with their wives, were in partnership in the family farm with Scott's parents, Bryan and Jo Guy.

Why was Ewen Macdonald arrested?

Police investigating the killing discovered Scott and wife Kylee had been targeted by vandals and property had been burned down. Macdonald and a young friend, Callum Boe, were the culprits. When Boe confessed, police questioned Macdonald until he too admitted his guilt.

During the interrogation he insisted that didn't make him the killer and he wasn't "that blimmin' psycho".

Later, police identified the footprints as being Proline dive boots, a type owned by Macdonald but missing from his belongings. And he was heard to say Scott had been shot while stunned family members gathered at the police cordon, even though he hadn't been allowed close to the body.

What was the Crown case?

The Crown alleged Macdonald killed Scott because he was jealous of the control Scott was getting on the farm and feared he would lose influence, therefore casting doubt on his own family's place on the farm.

Prosecutors alleged tensions had been building between the men for months - there was a loud argument at a restaurant and simmering tensions that farm workers and guests had observed.

They also said Macdonald had access to the farm gun, which could have been the weapon, and cast doubt on his alibi. He claimed to be elsewhere on the farm but they said he had plenty of time to get to the driveway where Scott was murdered.

What was the evidence?

Police had footprints which matched the type of dive boots Macdonald wore. The boots were stocked at his father's store. However, Macdonald's lawyer Greg King threw that theory into doubt at trial when he said the footprints could have been left by someone with a size 10 or 11 - not a size 9, which was his client's.

They believed the motive was Macdonald's fear of losing the farm. But at trial, evidence was given that he and Scott Guy were getting along better at the time of his death.

The arson and vandalism were key planks of the prosecution case. Macdonald himself admitted that it was likely whoever was responsible for the acts against Scott and Kylee Guy was also the killer. That was until his role in the earlier acts was uncovered.

After that, he denied being the killer and said he committed the acts as part of a night-time "mission" with a young accomplice for fun, and not revenge.

Q: What was the verdict?

Ewen Macdonald was found not guilty of murder by a jury at the High Court at Auckland after a month-long trial.

How it unfolded

July 8, 2010 Scott Guy is shot dead at the end of his Aorangi Rd, Feilding driveway and police launch a murder investigation

July 16 Mr Guy's funeral is held, his brother-in-law Ewen Macdonald is a pallbearer.

July 20 Police reveal a house owned by Mr Guy and his wife Kylee was vandalised in the past and that three puppies were missing, presumed stolen from Mr Guy's farm before he died.

August 20 Kylee, heavily pregnant with her second son, speaks out for the first time about her husband's murder, pleading for the killer to turn themselves in.

September 16 The investigation moves to Invercargill where Mr Guy had spent time with Macdonald at a dairying conference a fortnight before he was killed.

September 17 Kylee gives birth to Scott's son Drover, a brother for 2-year-old Hunter.

April 7, 2011 Police arrest Macdonald and charge him with Mr Guy's murder. He is also charged with arson and criminal damage and appears in the Palmerston North District Court the next day.

June 5, 2012 Macdonald goes on trial for murder in the High Court at Wellington.

July 3 Macdonald is found not guilty of murdering Mr Guy.

September 14 Macdonald sentenced to five years in jail for other crimes he admitted committing including vandalism, arson and intentional damage.

December 11 The Parole Board sees Macdonald for the first time and denies him an early release from prison.

- NZ Herald

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