Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

The stop-go murder trial so far

George Taiaroa. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
George Taiaroa. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

The jury tasked with deciding the fate of murder-accused Quinton Winders has already heard from more than 70 witnesses in relation to the death of stop-go worker, George Taiaroa.

More Crown witnesses are still to take the stand in the High Court at Rotorua as the trial enters its third week. It has been set down to last a month.

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.

So far witnesses have included emergency service personnel who responded to the scene as well as those involved in the criminal investigation.

A range of civilian witnesses have given evidence on dealings with Winders, helping at the scene immediately after Mr Taiaroa was shot and encountering a Jeep Cherokee on the same day.

One woman, Corina Walker, told the court about her encounter with a "wired-up" man driving a Jeep Cherokee erratically the day Mr Taiaroa was killed.

She later went on to identify Winders as the driver when police presented her with a photo montage.

Another witness, Michael Pengelly, told the court it could have been him killed, instead of Mr Taiaroa, during cross-examination by defence counsel Jonathan Temm.

Mr Temm revealed Mr Pengelly was previously threatened by Mongrel Mob members after being convicted for a sexual charge involving a young girl - a relative to one of the gang's members.

The Crown's case asserts a minor crash a week before was the "catalyst" for Winders to return to the scene in a blue Jeep Cherokee and kill Mr Taiaroa.

Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon told the jury on day one of the trial that the Crown case was circumstantial and evidence would show both Winders and the killer drove a blue Jeep Cherokee.

Mr Temm is yet to outline his case but said in his opening address that important evidence was missing.

He said there was no motive for Winders to kill Taiaroa, and the claims the crash lay behind it were spurious.

During the first two weeks of the trial, the court has also been shown Winders' video interview with police and Taumarunui CCTV footage showing glimpses of his blue Jeep Cherokee coming in from the west of the town on the day Mr Taiaroa was shot.

Last Tuesday jurors were taken on a scene visit where they saw the Tram Rd bridge, as well as other key areas being discussed in the trial. These included the Atiamuri bridge, Tirohanga Rd and Ongaroto Rd.

Janet and Max Winders, parents of the accused, are still to take the stand, as well as Detective Superintendent, Tim Anderson who led the investigation.

The trial so far:
The accused: Quinton Paul Winders
Charge: 1 count of murder for the death of George Taiaroa
Details of crime: Mr Taiaroa was shot while working as a stop-go operator on Tram Rd in 2013.
Crown case: a minor crash a week before was the catalyst for the shooting
Defence case: Yet to be outlined

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