Murder-accused Quinton Winders failed to show up for work the day George Taiaroa was killed and could not be reached until the following weekend, a court has heard.
Rotorua farmer Kieron O'Dwyer was called to the witness stand today to give evidence in the trial of Winders, who faces one charge of murder for the death of Mr Taiaroa, a stop-go operator, in 2013.
Mr O'Dwyer owned a farm in Benneydale where Winders used to do regular fencing work. He said he had known Winders for around 30 years.
During his evidence Mr O'Dwyer said it had been previously arranged that Winders would do some fencing work at the Benneydale farm on March 19, but he never showed up and could not be contacted the following days.
"I was trying to get a hold of him because I wanted the work done and I had heard about the murder that happened. I thought it was suspicious he wasn't there.
"The following weekend I was at my father's place and he turned up to do some work. He was driving his Lotus. I asked him where his Jeep Cherokee was and he said he got it from the panel beaters but the battery was flat..."
"I said look, there's been this murder, you need to go to the police because they are looking for a Cherokee like yours.
"He said, 'yeah I know about that' which I thought was a bit weird because he doesn't read the newspaper, he doesn't listen to the radio and he doesn't watch TV... He said some young fulla had told him."
Mr O'Dwyer said it was during his interview with police on April 6 that he was told "Quin is the suspect".
"I just said 'oh yeah' that's all I said. I couldn't sleep that night then in the morning I checked my bank account to see how much money I had because I knew Quin had no money and it looked like he would need a lawyer.
"I went up to talk to him about it. When I arrived he jumped out at me and I nearly ran him over, he gave me a hell of a fright. he was saying 'I'm under surveillance, I'm under surveillance".
"I said don't worry about it because you weren't in the area at the time but then he told me 'oh, oh, they got me on a camera at Taumarunui'."
Mr O'Dwyer asked Winders what he did and where he went that day.
"He said he had heard about the murder on the radio and panicked because the police were looking for a .22 rifle and a blue Jeep Cherokee so he went back to Whangamomona."
Earlier Mr O'Dwyer was questioned about the conversation he had with Winders about the minor crash he was involved in on March 12, 2013.
It is this crash the Crown asserts was the catalyst for Winders returning to Tram Rd and shooting Mr Taiaroa.
"He just said [Winders' father] Max backed into a car at the Atiamuri roadworks because he drove past the fulla with the stop sign.
"[Winders] was laughing about it, it was a bit funny."
Mr O'Dwyer also gave evidence about Winders' use of firearms. He relayed one incident that occured when he visited him.
"I went to visit him and I don't think he had seen anyone in a long time. He was talking hard out... non stop, I couldn't get a word in sideways. I was standing in the doorway and then he said 'hold on a minute' and took off.
"He came back with his .22 rifle and aimed it through the door and shot a rabbit. He went and grabbed it... came back inside holding it by its legs then said something like 'I'll deal with it later' and threw it in the freezer... I just stood there."
Detective Steven Dunn was also recalled to the stand today. He gave evidence about his involvement in a search warrant conducted at the Benneydale farm on April 25, 2013.
The trial continues.