Te Roroa iwi sympathise with brutalised woman who helped to clear their name
Twenty one years after Allan Titford tried to frame a Maori community for crimes he himself committed, the people he blamed have offered their thanks to Titford's brutalised wife who brought him to justice.
Te Roroa kaumatua Manos Nathan said the iwi were relieved Titford's crimes and the lengths he took to frame innocent people had finally been exposed.
Titford's former wife, Susan Cochrane, revealed his dark secrets by laying a complaint against him alleging sexual assault and other violent acts.
On Tuesday, the former farmer was imprisoned for 24 years after being found guilty on 39 charges.
His crimes included sexual offences against Ms Cochrane, violence against his family, fraud, threatening to kill, arson, perjury and firearms offences.
In a statement, she read during the sentencing Ms Cochrane said: "Living with him and all his lies and hatred towards the Government and the Te Roroa people was very hard because he could not take out his hatred on them so he took it out on us."
She said she had to sit quietly when her husband made his comments - some of it "all lies" - in the news.
"I hope that the Te Roroa people can forgive me for the bitterness that I helped to create against my will while they got blamed for a lot of things they did not do," she said.
Te Roroa felt only sympathy toward Titford's wife and children, Mr Nathan said.
"We have a deep appreciation of Susan's response in choosing to put this in front of the public," he said.
In the late 1980s, Titford and Te Roroa were embroiled in a bitter land dispute over two Maori reserves that were subject to longstanding Waitangi claims, on Titford's Maunganui Bluff farm.
Mr Nathan said that for years his whanau and wider hapu had been subject to "scurrilous claims", including allegations in the media, and had been castigated by other Maori.
"You can't measure the damage Titford did in terms of the whanau and the hapu," Mr Nathan said.
"Our old people didn't need to go to their graves suffering from what he did and not seeing justice done."
On Tuesday, Judge Duncan Harvey said it was time the people of New Zealand learned the truth about Titford.
"You decided that the Government was not co-operating over compensation. One of the tragedies of your actions in destroying your own property is that you've blamed that on Maori and allowed to broadcast to the entire country all [the] damage caused by them."
Judge Harvey said Titford's arson of a farmhouse was an elaborate scheme to elicit sympathy from the Government and the public. APN