Tony Robertson's dark past revealed: man who murdered and raped Blessie Gotingco also child sex offender

By Jared Savage, Patrice Dougan

Tony Robertson in Rotorua High Court in 2006. Photo / The Daily Post
Tony Robertson in Rotorua High Court in 2006. Photo / The Daily Post

Blessie Gotingco's family say they are extremely relieved that finally the man who raped and killed her can be named.

In a statement released on behalf of husband Antonio and their children, they say from the moment Blessie went missing her identity and the heinous details of her suffering have made international headlines.

"Robertson however was a coward and continued to hide, enabled by New Zealand's unsound name suppression laws.

"Finally the public's right to open and transparent justice has been delivered today and the Gotingco family wish to thank the hard working prosecution team for that."

"This is the first and last time that the family will speak his name."

Her family have called for an open public enquiry into the management of high risk offenders saying they don't want her death to be in vain.

"There were many opportunities to protect the public from this repeat offender; tragically this was not the reality - who was ultimately responsible for his management? "

Blessie's family are now mentally preparing for the sentencing hearing.

Dark past of Blessie killer

The man who murdered and raped Blessie Gotingco is also a child sex offender who had just been released under the strictest possible conditions - including 10 years of GPS surveillance - when he killed Ms Gotingco.

Tony Douglas Robertson, 28, today lost his fight for name suppression, two months after being found guilty by a jury at the High Court at Auckland.

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Robertson was just 18 when he kidnapped and molested a 5-year-old girl in Tauranga in 2005.

The little girl's mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said today that Robertson "deserves a bullet".

Police believe a local officer who acted on instinct and hunted Robertson down, finding him and the girl with her pants removed, saved her from a worse fate.

Robertson was jailed in October 2006 for eight years after being found guilty of seven charges, including indecently assaulting the girl and attempting to abduct two other children.

On his release in December 2013, he breached his conditions twice in a few weeks and was deemed such a danger that he was to be monitored strictly for a decade, the maximum period of an "Extended Supervision Order".

Blessie Gotingco was killed and raped as she walked home in 2014.
Blessie Gotingco was killed and raped as she walked home in 2014.

"I am satisfied that Mr Robertson poses a very considerable risk indeed," Justice Edwin Wylie said in his judgment in February last year. "I consider that it is likely that he will commit an indecency on a child under the age of 12 years, and that he will abduct a child for the purpose of sexual connection.

"The evidence compels the conclusion that [he] is impulsive, and that he is unable to control his anger and aggression. Mr Robertson has a predilection for, and a proclivity towards, sexual offending. He has shown no remorse ... Indeed, he continues to deny it."

Robertson raped and murdered Mrs Gotingco three months after the supervision order was imposed but yet to be enforced.

His name was suppressed during his trial for those crimes, although media were allowed to photograph and film him in court.

Robertson was granted name suppression because of his previous convictions for child sexual offences. His criminal history was not revealed to the jury.

After the jury returned guilty verdicts, Justice Timothy Brewer said there was no reason for name suppression to continue. However, Robertson appealed against that decision to a higher court.

His legal counsel argued that "a miscarriage of justice will occur" if his name was made public, because it would prevent a fair retrial.

The Court of Appeal rejected that argument so Robertson sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

But New Zealand's top court denied leave and sided in favour of the Court of Appeal, which said naming him would not create a real risk of prejudice to a fair retrial, and a retrial was "no more than a possibility".

"It concluded the balancing of the possibility of a retrial and the possibility of unfairness were outweighed by the principles of open justice," a Supreme Court judgment delivered today said.

The Supreme Court judgment released today sided in favour of the two previous decisions and dismissed Robertson's appeal, allowing media to name him for the first time.

There was "no appearance of a miscarriage of justice" in the decisions by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal to lift Robertson's name suppression, the Supreme Court said.

"We therefore dismiss the application for leave to appeal."

Several media outlets, including the Herald, had opposed Robertson's bid to keep his name secret.

Robertson's High Court trial heard the mutilated body of Auckland mother-of-three Mrs Gotingco was found in a suburban cemetery in May last year.
The Crown said Robertson ran her down and broke her leg as she walked home from a bus stop.

He threw her into his car and drove her to his nearby home where he raped her then stabbed her to death.

Two days later, police found the body in scrub in Eskdale Cemetery, Glenfield after a detective decided to check location data associated with the GPS anklet Robertson was wearing.

Tony Robertson in court during his trial for the murder and rape of Blessie Gotingco.
Tony Robertson in court during his trial for the murder and rape of Blessie Gotingco.

The trial was told electronic data showed he had been driving around the North Shore on the evening of Mrs Gotingco's disappearance and visited the graveyard only a couple of hours before she was due home. The same device showed he revisited the area early the following morning and officers sent there made the grisly discovery.

Crown prosecutor Michael Walker said the two cemetery visits were important because they showed "the defendant was planning to kill someone".

"His trip to the cemetery was scoping out where to dump the body."

Mrs Gotingco was last seen leaving her workplace, Tower Insurance in the CBD, about 7pm on May 24.

She was meant to get a lift home from a friend but volunteered to do some overtime, which meant she had to take a bus back to Birkdale.

Mr Walker said she was making the five-minute walk home down Salisbury Rd when Robertson deliberately drove onto the footpath and ran her down.

Mr Walker said the impact broke her left leg in two places and caused significant damage to his bonnet and windscreen. Robertson scooped up the injured woman and made the short drive home.

"He parked the car in the downstairs garage of the apartment complex he lived in and, after arriving at his house, he raped Mrs Gotingco," Mr Walker said.

"The small, petite woman, already injured from the first assault, stood no chance against the defendant armed with a knife."

It is alleged Robertson slit Mrs Gotingco's throat and then stabbed her numerous times.
When the police went to his address they found a knife, testing of which showed traces of the victim's blood, the Crown said.

A number of her personal items, including her handbag, were found buried in his garden.
Bloodied towels and mop-heads were found in a wheelie bin, Mr Walker said.

A swab taken from the victim's body turned up a semen sample, which was later tested by ESR scientists. Mr Walker said it provided "extremely strong scientific support" to suggest the defendant had raped Mrs Gotingco.

Robertson has yet to be sentenced.

TIMELINE

2005: Tony Robertson is convicted of several offences, the most significant relating to the abducation and molestation of a 5-year-old girl.

2006: An 8-year sentence is imposed against Robertson, who began the year in custody hitting a prison guard over the head with an electric fan.

2008: Robertson's final appeal to the Supreme Court over his conviction fails.

2013 December: At the end of an 8-year sentence, Robertson is released under strict conditions imposed by the Parole Board including wearing a GPS tracker.

2014 January: Robertson is convicted of his first breach of release conditions and arrested on his second breach.

2014 February: Department of Corrections successfully seeks an Extended Supervision Order, requiring Robertson to wear a GPS tracker for 10 years, among other conditions.

2014 March: Police check Robertson's GPS movements and clear him during an inquiry into a potentially indecent approach to a child near his home.

2014 May: Blessie Gotingco goes missing walking home from the bus stop near her home. Robertson is arrested and charged with her murder.

2015 May: Robertson is convicted of the murder and rape of Mrs Gotingco.

2015 July: Name suppression is lifted.

- NZ Herald

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