Murdered expat's daughter organises memorial

Former Tauranga woman Gina Lander, 46. Photo / Facebook
Former Tauranga woman Gina Lander, 46. Photo / Facebook

The daughter of a New Zealand woman murdered in the United Kingdom is organising a memorial for her mum in spring as "a celebration of her quirky life".

Former Tauranga woman Gina Lander, 46, was reported missing from her home in Walsall on March 16 by her partner David Stokes.

Police believe Stokes murdered Lander and then disposed of her body before reporting her missing.

Five weeks after Lander was reported missing Stokes committed suicide by jumping off a bridge in Walsall.

Lander's daughter Shireen Harper posted a public tribute on her Facebook page commemorating her mum as a beautiful, kind woman.

"I only want to add how relieved I am that we are now able to know the truth and her friends and I are able to have closure. While we may not be able to seek justice, we are able to know the truth, and we know that the man who murdered her cannot hurt anyone else."

A UK coroner yesterday recorded Stokes' death as suicide and said Lander was unlawfully killed.

Harper said the coroner's report brings "much-needed closure".

Harper said that she misses her mum every day.

"I appreciate everyones support over the past few months, and the respect for my privacy. While this makes mum's passing very real, it's a relief that this has finally been ruled on.

"She was a beautiful kind woman whose life was taken by someone she loved and trusted.

"It has been an incredibly long and hard five months, and while Mum and I will never get justice, he has not got away with it."

Well-wishers flooded Harper's comments section with their condolences.

"I am SO sorry. You are so admirable and strong i'm in absolute awe of you. You never gave up & your Mom will be looking down on you proud as ever," wrote Emma Lang.

Prathima Rao's comment said "Gina will truly be missed by many. She would have been so proud of you Shireen - just the way she always was. Remember that you are not alone."

On June 30, Harper broke the news about her mum's death to her friends in another Facebook post and asked everyone to "hold your questions about Mum's passing for the time being".

"It is with a heavy heart that I let everyone know that my mother has passed away. We've lost a wonderful fun soul, and I will miss her very much. She was my rock and my best friend, I wouldn't be where I am without her unwavering support. She was amazing and fun and I have many beautiful memories to remember her by.

"As I am sure you will all understand, this is a very hard time for me."

While living in Tauranga, Lander taught at Welcome Bay School. She also worked for a time as a relief teacher at Omokoroa Point School.

A police spokesman said: "On April 21 this year, police were called to reports of a man falling from a bridge over the M6 motorway.

"The man, identified as David Stokes, died following the fall.

"The 39-year-old was Gina's partner at the time she was reported missing.

"One line of inquiry to date has been that David Stokes may have killed Gina and disposed of her remains shortly before she was reported missing.

"At an inquest today it was ruled that Gina's death was an unlawful killing and that David Stokes committed suicide."

Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with Lander's death.

Where to get help:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If the story is about Christchurch and/or the quakes, please add this: Canterbury Support Line: 0800 777 846

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