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

Generosity overwhelms bereaved Gotingcos

Almost $150,000 pledged in a week to fund a review of killer’s management

When Antonio Gotingco decided to ask the New Zealand public to help fund a private review of the management of his wife Blessie's killer, he never imagined that a week later, almost $150,000 would be donated.

Last Friday night, Mr Gotingco launched a Givealittle page to fund an independent review of the "mismanagement and non-monitoring of evil" that his family say enabled the rape and murder of Mrs Gotingco in May 2014.

If the review shows they have legal grounds, the family will file a civil case against Corrections for Mrs Gotingco's wrongful death.

By last night, $144,481 had been donated by just over 4000 people.

Mr Gotingco told the Weekend Herald he was overwhelmed by the generosity shown to his family, and humbled by the support.

He said comments made on the Givealittle page had buoyed his grieving family, further strengthening their resolve to get justice for their wife, mother, sister and grandmother.

Family spokeswoman Ruth Money said the Gotingcos were working out a plan for their review.

It could be some time before they had a firm "next step".

"They are overwhelmed by the support and really feel that New Zealand is behind them," said Ms Money, who works as a victim advocate.

"We believe the level of support shown sends a very strong message to the Government that New Zealanders expect better," she said.

On May 24, 2014, Mrs Gotingco was on her way home from work and walking from a bus stop on Birkdale Rd to her home 700m away when Tony Douglas Robertson ran her down in his car.

He threw the injured woman into his vehicle, drove her to his nearby home, raped her and stabbed her to death. He dumped her body at the Birkenhead Cemetery.

Robertson had been released from jail five months earlier, after serving time for abducting and indecently assaulting a young girl. He was subject to an extended supervision order, which included 24-hour GPS tracking.

The case sparked an independent government inquiry of the Department of Corrections' management of Robertson both before and after his release from prison.

The inquiry report, released last week, made 27 recommendations for improving the management of high-risk offenders such as Robertson.

But it concluded that only Robertson could be held responsible for Mrs Gotingco's death.

Mr Gotingco said the report was insulting and Corrections had "blood on their hands".

Ms Money said the Gotingco family had been reduced to tears at times as they read messages posted on the Givealittle page.

One woman donated $250 and wrote: "This is for Blessie. Thank you for fighting injustice and incompetence."

Another donor said: "We offer you all our support in changing the way these perpetrators are dealt with, making each and every one of us safer in our communities. What happened to Blessie was totally avoidable without a doubt."

You can donate to the Gotingco's Givealittle fundraising page here.

- NZ Herald

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