Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Jones: Titford a 'destructive' influence

Allan Titford. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Allan Titford. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The man jailed for two decades for sex and violence offences was a "destructive" influence on Maori/Pakeha relations in the Far North, Labour MP Shane Jones says.

Questions have also been asked about how Allan Titford was able to run for mayor while in jail waiting for sentencing.

Yesterday, the 53-year-old was sentenced in the Whangarei District court to 24 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of 39 charges including assault, sexual violation, arson and fraud.

The sexual offences were committed against his former wife Susan Cochrane who in an unusual step waived her right for name suppression so Titford could be identified.

Titford came to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s over a dispute with the Crown over a farm he owned at Maunganui Bluff.

The land was subject to a claim by Maori and was eventually bought by the Crown to give to the hapu. Titford claimed that the hapu had torched his home and caused plenty of other damage to his farm during the dispute.

But the verdicts show that he made up many of his claims.

Mr Jones, a veteran Ngapuhi advocate told Radio New Zealand Titford had taken a "hostile approach" to the Maori claims around the Waipoua forest, in the late 1980s, with Maori elders describing him as "vindictive".

"I think that those of us who know how destructive he was in the early years ... you know, there's an old saying 'What goes around comes around'."

Mr Jones said Titford was hostile towards the kaupapa of Maori claims.

Titford must also have been "unhinged" to believe he could stand to be the mayor of the North from jail, Mr Jones said.

There was also a potential legal difficulty that he stood for local government, given felons were not allowed to be enrolled to vote, let alone stand for office.

"But given that he's doing so much time I daresay in the bigger scheme of things that will be conveniently forgotten about," Mr Jones said.

But Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain told RNZ he wanted to know why Titford was able to contest the Far North mayoralty after being convicted of serious crimes against his family.

He was concerned the 414 people who voted for Titford in this year's mayoral elections were supporting a man whose candidacy could have been illegal.

During his sentencing, Titford's former wife Susan Cochrane told the court Titford had kept her "as a slave" for 22 years.

- APNZ

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