Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Guy family reliving the nightmare

Scott Guy.
Scott Guy.

On July 8, 2010, Feilding farmer Scott Guy was gunned down in his driveway, just metres from where his heavily pregnant wife Kylee and young son Hunter slept. Six months' later Ewen Macdonald, married to Scott's sister Anna, was charged with murder. He would eventually be acquitted after a dramatic High Court trial, but jailed for a raft of other serious criminal acts directed at Scott and Kylee and others in the community.

The case transfixed the country for months. Until now most of the coverage has focused on the trial, the continuing public debate over who committed the murder and its effect on Anna Guy, the woman whose husband was accused of murdering her brother. Now a new book by author Tony Farrington reveals another side of the story - how Scott's parents Bryan and Jo handled his death, their son-in-law's murder charge and many other hurdles that threatened to tear their family apart.

Today the Weekend Herald presents exclusive extracts from Scott Guy: His Parents' Story of Love, Betrayal, Murder and Courage, a narrative of their heartache built around Jo Guy's personal journal.

The day Scott died

From Jo's diary

8th July 2010. The day everything changed. Scott, our beloved son, was shot with a shotgun wound to the neck as he was going to work and died in front of his house. The grief was absolute . . .

I have often heard people say that your life can change in a moment. Ours did. All the things I thought were important suddenly weren't. Clear goals disappeared. A heart-wrenching hole in my heart has replaced them. Someone took my baby. Who is it?

Out in the community

Activities that only a few days earlier had been routine, became major challenges. She found shopping at the local supermarket daunting. At each visit she was stopped by people who unintentionally brought tears to her eyes by expressing their sympathy or discussing the murder investigation. Observing her distress, the shop's owners invited her to shop alone after hours to avoid the prying crowds.

The kindness and caring helps heal a broken heart. We are not alone. We are surrounded by love and prayers. I have never felt that before.

I feel like part of me died . . . I feel envious of people with sons alive the same age as Scotty. It is harder when people who really love and care for us show kindness - that is when it is hard to be brave.

Jo on her grief

Jo felt so low one morning she had difficulty lifting her head out of the water while swimming. Literally drowning in her grief, she contemplated ending the pain by remaining beneath the surface. "If I just sink, the pain will end. I won't feel anything any more," she thought. Another swimmer, an acquaintance, noticed her.

"How are you doing?" the woman asked.

"How do you think?" Jo thought.

"You know it's wonderful that you've got your grandchildren to live for," she continued.

Her comment brought Jo's life into perspective and she saw the reason for living.

The birth of Drover Guy

At Hunter's birth, Scott had severed the umbilical cord with a penknife he'd bought specifically for the occasion. Before he died he had bought another knife to perform a similar ceremony on Drover. Kylee invited Bryan to attend the birth and undertake the task on Scott's behalf.

When strong, firm hands tried to pull Drover into the world, the baby refused to breathe. Bryan worried about the concern he detected in the medical team's eyes and voices as they urgently worked to coax Drover to begin his journey.

"Don't panic, they know what they're doing" he told himself.

"Talk to him," a nurse commanded. "Rub his legs and talk to him, they respond to voices".

He towered over the tiny bundle. "Breathe little one," he pleaded as he rubbed a coarse finger over Drover's pristine skin. "Breathe . . . we need you. You've got to breathe."

Drover obliged. A cry of courage reverberated around the delivery room. Bryan emerged from the theatre and related his experience to Jo. They christened Drover with bittersweet tears of joy and sorrow.

"Scotty should be here," Jo sobbed. "But he would have been thrilled to have had you as his stand-in."

The abandoned house:

The mower seat was the plinth from which Bryan contemplated life. The monotony of driving around and around, cutting grass at Scott's house, allowed his mind to fill with all sorts of thoughts.

He steered the mower across the ground over which he had fled with Kylee and Hunter on the morning of Scott's murder. He cut the grass where Scott's killer had squeezed the shotgun trigger. He drove alongside where his son's body had fallen on the driveway. this was where he shed tears. Bryan noticed strawberries growing in a planter box. He ate them as he mowed and enjoyed the sweetness along with memories of his son whose hands had planted them. He continued cutting that grass almost every week for a year while the house lay empty. Apart from collecting personal effects after Scott's funeral, Kylee never returned to what had been her dream home.

Macdonald's arrest

"We need to tell you what's going on," Detective Inspector [Sue] Schwalger said. She revealed that Callum Boe had confessed to poaching, arson, vandalism and other crimes, and that he'd implicated Ewen.

Ewen Macdonald.
Ewen Macdonald.

Had Ewen not admitted his crimes, Bryan would not have believed him capable of them. He kept asking police if they were sure they were right.

"You'd better not be putting us through this for nothing, because it will turn our world upside down," he predicted.

Bryan wondered whether he really knew Ewen. He thought he had always treated him like a son, but on reflection they had probably never discussed anything other than farming and the children.

Jo on Ewen MacDonald

Despite her initial misgivings about Ewen she had always tried to make him feel accepted within the family, something he had always wanted. She praised him for being a good father.

He was a man of few words who, largely, kept to himself. He was teetotal and they hadn't had any problems with him. Jo had noticed that he didn't communicate well with Anna. Occasionally, it annoyed her. He seldom praised Anna and never said how much she meant to him. She was shocked to learn about the secret life he'd led behind their backs because he had appeared so dependable. She found it all incomprehensible.

Ewen had not fooled Kylee though.

"You know," she'd said to Jo one day, when they were talking about Scott's death and all the other horrible deeds, "it's somebody really close to the family."

"I think she means Ewen," Jo thought at the time.

On the murder charge

We had started to have light at the end of the tunnel and didn't see this freight train coming.

Ewen's parents Marlene and Kerry visited Anna. They were devastated. Kerry was so upset after Callum Guy hugged him that he collapsed on the floor in tears.

I feel so sorry for them, Jo confided in her journal. Far worse to be the mother of a murderer than having a son murdered. Bryan thinks it is tragic and very sad, that Ewen must have been sick in the head. How could he not have thought of his beautiful wife, our Anna, and their four special children? Their whole lives turned upside down, and ours along with them.

Poor Anna. The sheer enormity of her life sentence is overwhelming. The man she thought she knew has been lying, had a double life and done some stupid, stupid things. How can we adjust, from loving and caring for someone we thought we knew to believing he killed our precious son.

Anna has a double grief: a brother lost, a husband a (possible) killer and an arsonist. How utterly bizarre.

On Anna's prison visits

I can't believe Ewen would want to destroy all our lives. He must have been deluded, Jo wrote.

Ewen can't have loved Anna enough to put her and the children at risk. He can never come back.

I woke up feeling angry. Anna is visiting Ewen - took the kids yesterday and she went Friday.

We are stepping carefully around her, but these lives are destroyed - because of bloody Ewen. I never want to see him again.

While appreciating how difficult Anna's life had become, Jo struggled to cope with her daughter's visiting Ewen twice a week.

I don't think he deserves any of that. I think he has conditioned her over the years and seems to have a hold over her. Ewen has betrayed and deserted Anna and yet he proclaims love. What crap! God, please show her what he's done.

Jo was shocked when Anna told her that Ewen appeared not to mind being in prison because it was easier than working on the farm.

Bryan Guy with his daughter Anna, Ewen Macdonald's wife.
Bryan Guy with his daughter Anna, Ewen Macdonald's wife.

Anna wants to visit him Fridays and Sundays. I just don't cope with that at all. I don't think he deserves that, she wrote.

The longer the visits continued, the more exasperated Jo became.

I can't/won't support Anna visiting Ewen - she's off again Wednesday - 2x a week. Her life I guess, but Ewen's shattered everyone's life. Anna just doesn't realise that yet. She thinks she's married. Hello!! He's in jail awaiting trial for murder.

He can't ever come back to the farm.

The verdict

Kylee was just so sure - about Ewen's guilt - but the evidence was not clear. There was no physical evidence linking Ewen to the scene. It does leave a lot of questions, Jo conceded.

The best thing, if we can call it that, is the children can grow up knowing that their father didn't kill Scott. A big burden has been lifted off their little shoulders.

[Crown prosecutor Ben] Vanderkolk and Detective Inspector Schwalger had offered advice about how to cope with the trial's outcome.

Defence lawyer Greg King. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Defence lawyer Greg King. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"Decide in your own minds whether Ewen is guilty or not. Then you will have peace and move on," they'd said.

Jo wrestled with this question more than Bryan. He had suspected [defence lawyer] Greg King had raised significant questions in jurors' minds about the strength of the evidence against Ewen. Jo, on the other hand, laboured with the meaning of the words "not guilty".

That doesn't mean innocent, though, she reflected.

- Edited by Anna Leask

- NZ Herald

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