The truck driver who saw stop-go operator George Taiaroa get shot by the driver of a blue Jeep Cherokee has taken the witness stand.
Craig Clothier was the final witness to give evidence today - day three of the trial of Quinton Winders, the man accused of killing Mr Taiaroa.
Mr Clothier described what he saw as he drove along the Atiamuri Bridge on the afternoon of March 19, 2013.
"I saw the blue Jeep Cherokee on the other side of the bridge. I saw [Mr Taiaroa] bend over to look into the passenger window, then he stood back up and fell backwards."
He said when he saw Mr Taiaroa fall to the ground, he didn't know what had happened.
"I thought maybe the Jeep had run over his foot or he had a heart attack. The Jeep started slowly coming towards me on the bridge and as soon as my trailer was off he put his foot down and was gone."
When questioned about the man in the Jeep, Mr Clothier said he appeared to be part-Maori or dark skinned. He said his tinted windows were up and he only got a "split second look".
He was then questioned about his actions as he approached Mr Taiaroa, who was still lying on the ground.
"He had a bullet hole in his forehead. He was shaking but wasn't talking. I grabbed my cellphone to call 111 but I only had one bar [of reception] so I radioed the dispatcher to call the police.
"A white ute turned up and I told the guy, 'the fulla in that Jeep has just shot this guy here'. He spun around, I guess to see if he could see anything."
Mr Clothier said it was "roughly 10 minutes" before the first police officer reached the scene.
Mr Clothier was then cross-examined by Winders' lawyer, Jonathan Temm, during which the events during and immediately following Mr Taiaroa being shot were reiterated.
The trial will resume tomorrow morning.
The other stop-go operator working the day George Taiaroa was shot dead has been grilled by defence lawyer Jonathan Temm about his past criminal conviction and dealings with Mongrel Mob members.
Michael Pengelly was recalled this afternoon for cross-examination by Mr Temm.
Mr Temm questioned Mr Pengelly about a previous conviction from a sexual charge involving a young girl. Mr Temm went on to say the young girl was the daughter or niece of Mongrel Mob members in Mangakino.
Mr Temm asked Mr Pengelly if he was visited by two Mongrel Mob members who threatened him. Mr Pengelly initially said they came to his house to have a conversation but eventually agreed with Mr Temm that the pair had threatened him and wanted his car.
Mr Temm said Mr Pengelly knew it was "a shocking thing" when Mr Taiaroa was shot and that he said "it could have been me".
"It could have happened to anyone, it would have been me if I was on that side of the bridge," Mr Pengelly said.
Earlier in his questioning Mr Temm asked Mr Pengelly about his first statement to police and whether he mentioned the word 'wheel rack' when describing the blue Jeep Cherokee that flew past him moments before Mr Taiaroa was shot.
Mr Pengelly said he did mention the wheel rack but could not find the mention in his statement when asked to point it out to the court.
"You make no mention of the wheel rack. What you say is a vehicle came flying past me at speed... it was a blue Jeep Cherokee... I know the vehicle had no plates on the back of it, not sure of the year... but had a flat back... I did not see the driver...
"You didn't mention the word 'wheel rack' in your second statement either," Mr Temm said.
Mr Temm examined a diagram drawn by Mr Pengelly of the Jeep Cherokee. He accused Mr Pengelly of drawing a wheel on his diagram that was not on the back of the vehicle he saw on March 19.
"I couldn't draw a wheel rack... I'm not a good drawer," Mr Pengelly replied.
"In your third statement you don't mention the words 'wheel rack' at all, do you?
"The first time you mentioned the words 'wheel rack' was today, in this court room," Mr Temm said.
"No, I mentioned it before, a long time ago," Mr Pengelly said
"We know you didn't mention it in your first statement, your second statement, your third statement or your diagram," Mr Temm said.
"The only reason you're saying you knew the wheel rack was there was because the police have shown you the photos.
"You've never mentioned the wheel rack in your statements, you never drew it in your diagram. Police showed you photos six weeks ago and then you came into this courtroom and mentioned the wheel rack."
Truck driver Craig Clothier will take the stand when High Court is back in session.
A stop-go operator working on Tram Rd saw a blue Jeep Cherokee "flying past, about 90km" moments before George Taiaroa was shot.
Michael Pengelly was working on the Atiamuri bridge with Mr Taiaroa on March 19, 2013.
He was called to the witness stand today for the trial of Quinton Winders, the man accused of killing Mr Taiaroa.
Mr Pengelly, questioned by Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon, spoke about his reaction to seeing the blue Jeep Cherokee speed past him, toward's Mr Taiaroa's station at the other end of the Atiamuri Bridge.
"I went to write down the number plate so I could report it but it had no [number] plate on it."
Ms Gordon asked how he knew it was a Jeep Cherokee.
"You get to know your vehicles when you work on the stop-go...there was no number plate, it had a wheel rack but no spare tyre... he was driving pretty dangerously."
Mr Pengelly confirmed he did not see who was driving the vehicle.
"I radioed George but he didn't answer - it was unusual for him not to answer... I walked up and saw people running around like headless chickens... I thought 'this isn't right'... I saw George lying on the ground and I thought he had had a heart attack or heat stroke, it was a warm day.
"I ran over to George, I tapped him on the shoulder and said 'George, George', he was looking at me but then he started fading. Someone started performing CPR until the ambulance arrived."
Members of Mr Taiaroa's family silently wept as Mr Pengelly recalled the events immediately after Mr Taiaroa was shot.
Earlier in her questioning, Ms Gordon asked about Mr Pengelly's position on the bridge.
"George always picked the good side, he liked to park his ute up - there wasn't much room on my side".
Mr Pengelly confirmed he could not see Mr Taiaroa from his station on the bridge and the pair used handheld radios to communicate.
Ms Gordon asked what would happen if there were vehicles waiting to go on either side.
"George would send his through first," Mr Pengelly said.
When asked by Ms Gordon why Mr Taiaroa would go first, Mr Pengelly said, "because he was George".
Members of the public gallery laughed at this reply.
During cross-examination by Winders' lawyer, Jonathan Temm, Mr Pengelly was shown a series of photos of a blue Jeep. The pictured Jeep has a 'flat back', a 'clear back window' and the word JEEP on the back.
Mr Temm has asserted, confirmed by Mr Pengelly, these features were in line with the features Mr Pengelly described to police of the Jeep he saw fly past on March 19.
Mr Pengelly will be recalled after the lunch adjournment.
Construction superintendent Andy Searancke never saw a blue Jeep Cherokee after George Taiaroa was shot, despite telling the 111 operator about the vehicle, a court has heard.
Mr Searancke was recalled this morning, for day three of Quinton Winders' murder trial.
He was cross-examined by Winders' lawyer Jonathan Temm, during which it was made clear, Mr Searancke had never seen the blue Jeep Cherokee at or leaving the area where Mr Taiaroa was shot on March 19, 2013.
"When you rang 111 and said there was a blue Jeep Cherokee, you didn't see it, you were relaying the information you had been told," Mr Temm said.
Mr Searancke could not recall which witness told him about the blue Jeep Cherokee, but that it was something that "would always stick in my mind".
Earlier in the questioning Mr Temm asked what time the stop-go workers went for their breaks and the order those breaks on March 19.
Mr Searancke relayed Michael Pengelly, the other stop-go worker, was relieved first by Edward Morehu, followed by Mr Taiaroa. Mr Taiaroa returned to his work station around 3pm. Mr Searancke, Mr Morehu and Mr Taiaroa has a brief conversation before leaving Mr Taiaroa to his duties.
Mr Temm also asserted, confirmed by Mr Searancke, that [Mr Searancke] knew about Mr Pengelly's "checkered past" as he had been told Mr Pengelly needed to attend a probation meeting.
Mr Morehu was called to the witness stand after Mr Searancke, questioned by Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon about how and when he relieved for Mr Taiaroa and Mr Pengelly.
Ms Gordon clarified Mr Morehu would relieve for Mr Pengelly and Mr Taiaroa in the same order each day.
"Michael would be relieved first for his morning break and afternoon break... George always liked to have his smoko with the boys... Michael would have his smoko alone," Mr Morehu said.
He said he would sometimes get held up at other jobs and would be a little late to relieving Mr Taiaroa and Mr Pengelly.
"On that particular day [March 19] I was a little late, maybe 10 minutes... I got to Michael around 1.40pm, instead of the usual 1.30pm."
Written statements from St John's Ambulance dispatcher Kelly Anne Stoddard and non-sworn member of New Zealand Police Vanessa Wardley were read out by the registrar.
The trial continues.
The trial of Quinton Winders, the man accused of murdering stop-go worker George Taiaroa, is set to heat up today with the first of the Crown's key witnesses taking the stand.
Winders, 45, pleaded not guilty in December last year to the murder of Taiaroa, 65, who was shot dead while operating a stop-go sign at roadworks in Atiamuri, north of Taupo, in 2013.
The first witness of the day will be construction superintendent Andy Searancke who will be cross examined by Winders' lawyer Jonathan Temm. He was questioned yesterday by the Crown.
Truck driver Craig Clothier is also expected to be called today. He was the first witness to discover Mr Taiaroa had been shot.
It is day three of the trial
For more articles from this region, go to Rotorua Daily Post