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

Lawyers sum up in stop-go murder trial

Quinton Paul Winders. PHOTO/FILE
Quinton Paul Winders. PHOTO/FILE

The lawyers in the stop-go murder trial have addressed the court for the final time, with the Crown declaring there is only one conclusion the jury can reach - that it was Quinton Winders who killed George Taiaroa.

But Winders' lawyer Jonathan Temm says this was a case of a stop-go worker who was wrongly killed and a fencer (Winders) who was framed by police.

In her closing address today, Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon reiterated key points made in the five-week trial in the High Court at Rotorua.

Mr Taiaroa was shot and killed while he worked at roadworks near Atiamuri in 2013.

Ms Gordon said there were crucial things about Winders that linked him to the murder.

These included his blue Jeep Cherokee, CCTV footage showing Winders could have been at the scene at the right time, his .22 rifle that matched what is believed to be the murder weapon, his contact with Mr Taiaroa a week prior on March 12, 2013, the fact he lied to police and that he lied to his employer Kieron O'Dwyer about his whereabouts.

She said while the Crown's case was circumstantial, "when the evidence is combined it clearly establishes the defendant is the murderer".

She also addressed suggestions by Mr Temm that the murder was a case of mistaken identity and another stop-go worker, Michael Pengelly, was the intended target.

Prior to the shooting, Mr Pengelly had been confronted by two Mongrel Mob members after he was convicted of a sexual charge involving a young girl.

"The Crown suggests you could not get two more different looking men. Mr Taiaroa was a large Maori who was bald, you have seen Mr Pengelly - he has a small stature with long scraggly hair.

"The suggestion that this was a case of mistaken identity was just a sideshow or dead end to divert attention from the real evidence."

Ms Gordon said Winders told a number of lies about his movements the day Mr Taiaroa was shot, many of which in his police interview on April 4, 2013 after he was arrested for reckless driving.

Ms Gordon drew the jury's attention to Winders' confusion about the 'traffic stop' but not the fact police wanted to talk to him about a murder.

She said Winders' account "didn't stack up" and needed to be contrasted to the account he gave to Mr O'Dwyer after he did not show up for work at the Benneydale farm.

Winders told Mr O'Dwyer his Jeep Cherokee had a flat battery and he was waiting for money from Edward Bradford.

"He doesn't say to police that he went home with a flat battery... If he did not have anything to hide then why did he lie to the police and why did he lie to his friend, Mr O'Dwyer."

Ms Gordon said Winders' account needed to be contrasted further with another account he gave to Mr O'Dwyer, saying he panicked when he found out police were looking for a blue Jeep Cherokee and a .22 rifle.

"The [.22 rifle] was never released by police to the media. That information could only have been known by the person who pulled the trigger."

Ms Gordon told the jury Winders' "incredible" account of having his .22 rifles stolen in 2009 was another lie.

"[Winders] knew if police found his rifle he would be positively linked to the murder of Mr Taiaroa."

Ms Gordon said Winders also lied about the whereabouts of his .22 rifle to Mr O'Dwyer.

"Mr O'Dwyer asked Winders where his .22 was and Winders said 'oh, that's been stolen'."

Winders explained it had been stolen by 'Bigfoot', a neighbour over the hill, when he left it outside.

"Winders then said 'well that's what I'm saying anyway'. Winders knew he was lying... His rifle was never stolen, it was hidden, destroyed or thrown away by [Winders] because he knows he killed Mr Taiaroa with it."

Ms Gordon concluded by saying the evidence could only lead the jury to one conclusion, that Winders killed Mr Taiaroa.

Mr Temm then gave his closing address.

He started by saying Winders was framed, using that term because he believed there were lines of inquiry and information the police ignored during the investigation.

Mr Temm said Winders did not know Mr Taiaroa.

"Why would he travel 250km both ways to kill a man against whom he had no animosity?"

Mr Temm urged the jury to look at the evidence in a "cool, objective and clinical way".

When challenging the Crown's propensity evidence, Mr Temm explained why he called defence witnesses Aaron Jane and Glenn Law.

The pair shot some of Winders' goats at his Pohokura property in 2012 and were confronted by an angry Winders with a shotgun on his lap.

"The Crown says this man has a tendency to overreact...The Crown has created that tendency - a personality disorder - to fit with their case.

"If there was ever a time for [Winders] to display this tendency, it would have been during his dealings with Mr Jane and Mr Law. He did not."

Mr Temm said the Crown case left the jury with "unsolvable uncertainties" and it would not be able to find Winders guilty unless there was no other reasonable hypothesis available.

He said the only appropriate verdict was not guilty.

Justice Kit Toogood will sum up tomorrow before the jury retires to consider its verdict.

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