Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Victim's haunted face chilling to behold

In 1995, Kurt Bayer was a 17-year-old cub reporter at a North Canterbury community newspaper when Devon Charles Bond abducted a local woman on her morning jog. Nobody knew that Bond had struck before. It would be 21 years before a DNA match caught him.
Eight days later, Devon Charles Bond would be arrested for abducting the jogger and mother-of-three from the Ashley River stopbanks at Waikuku. Photo / John Kirk-Anderson
Eight days later, Devon Charles Bond would be arrested for abducting the jogger and mother-of-three from the Ashley River stopbanks at Waikuku. Photo / John Kirk-Anderson

Some things you never forget. Even as a fresh-faced, wide-eyed teenager, I knew the woman sitting across from me had experienced the pits of hell.

Her face was cut and bruised. Hands hugged a coffee mug. As my senior reporter colleague Joanna Barrell gently interviewed her, the woman's eyes jittered the room. Even deep inside the bowels of the old Rangiora police station, she expected her attacker - then still at large - to come charging in.

READ MORE: Devon Bond, NZ wrestler, admits to rape and kidnapping from 22 years ago

Eight days later, Devon Charles Bond would be arrested for abducting the jogger and mother-of-three from the Ashley River stopbanks at Waikuku.

Some names you never forget. And when I saw Devon Charles Bond written on a charge sheet at Christchurch District Court last year alleging abduction and rape - for a brutal home invasion a year before the Waikuku woman's attack - my heart stalled.

It took me back to that dank police station 20 years earlier. And to those far-away, haunted eyes.

Jo Barrell had been working tirelessly on the abduction story since it broke. She was a true pro who broke tough stories and was passionate about truth and justice. And she did it with compassion and sensitivity. Jo was my idol.

I'd been at the paper for only five months, fresh out of high school.

At the police station's reception area, a detective briefed us. The victim was deeply traumatised. Be gentle. Jo asked if I could take photographs. Only a couple. I nodded at Jo and we went inside.

As Jo started chatting, I sat fiddling with my old Nikon, nervously waiting my moment. As the woman dabbed her eyes with a tissue, Jo gave me a look. I raised my camera and took focus - click, click, click. Three shots.

Afterwards, I opened the back of the camera in the local photo shop without rewinding the spool. In a split-second, I realised my mistake and jammed the camera shut again in horror. Dread descended on me. There was no asking the cops for another shot.

I rewound the film and gloomily handed it over, convinced that all three shots would be destroyed. I looked over my mate Bede's shoulder as he processed the film - the first two shots were sheer white ... but the third was useable. Just.

The story was published on the front page the next day.

The photograph didn't do it justice, but I will never forget the terror in that poor woman's eyes as she courageously retold her story.

Nor will I forget how Jo Barrell - who died of cancer in November 2011 - handled that sensitive interview situation, and the resultant article, with such grace and humility.

On July 28, I'll be thinking of both of them when I report on Devon Charles Bond being sentenced for the 1994 rape and abduction. He faces life in jail. And I will never forget his name.

- NZ Herald

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