Stop-go killing: Quinton Winders guilty of murdering George Taiaroa

By Stephanie Arthur-Worsop, David Fisher

Quinton Winders has been found guilty of the murder of stop-go worker George Taiaroa.

There was no reaction from Winders when the verdict was delivered in the High Court at Rotorua about 3.50pm today.

Members of the Taiaroa family cried.

Winders' mother Janet shouted "love you".

Judge Kit Toogood told the jury: "It's clear to me you have given the case anxious and careful consideration."

Three members of the jury were in tears - a young man and two women.

The public gallery was full with the families of Winders and Taiaroa as well as Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson who led the investigation into George Taiaroa's death.

"I think its fair to say the circumstances of this case are very rare," Anderson said after the verdict.

"I think this case illustrates to me when bad things happen to good people two things happen as a result. Our New Zealand police investigators are world class and from the evidence you've seen in court for the last five weeks we've seen that.

"Secondly, when we make appeals for witnesses and members of NZ to help resolve these matters, people do come forward - we've had over 130 people help us in this case.

He said police stood by his their contention that this was a targeted and calculated killing.

"We have world class investigators in New Zealand. This case shows we never ever give up and we never ever will."

Detective superintendent Tim Anderson, and Taiaroa family spokeswoman Ani Mikaere. Photo / Stephen Parker
Detective superintendent Tim Anderson, and Taiaroa family spokeswoman Ani Mikaere. Photo / Stephen Parker

Family friend Ani Mikaere​ said those who knew George Taiaroa would have to try to move on with their lives. She also thanked witnesses, victim support agencies and police for their support.

"These court proceedings have lasted a very long five weeks and they have come at the end of an even longer two and a half years.

"For George Taiaroa's whanau, the real trial adjusting to life without their husband, father and grandfather is far from over - It will never be over.

"There are a number of people and groups of people the whanau would like to acknowledge. Firstly whanau members are profoundly grateful to all witnesses who gave evidence during the trial.

"People took time out of their lives and many travelled a significant distance to do so. They willingly subjected themselves to the intimidating experience of standing before the courtroom packed with strangers, subjected to close questioning and exposed to public scrutiny.

"Many of these people did not know George, had never met his whanau so they really came out of the obligation to do the right thing. The generosity of spirit is not lost on the whanau and they will forever be in their debt.

"Secondly, victim support workers have provided the whanau with practical and emotional support during the past three and a half years. They have helped in so many ways, striving to ease the load wherever possible.

"Thirdly, gathering evidence for the case has clearly been a monumental task. The police have shown dedication, determination and an attention to detail that has only become fully apparent to us through the course of the trial. It will be impossible to name all the staff that have contributed but a debt of gratitude is owed to each and every one of them.

"Fourthly whanau members wish to extend their thanks to the Crown prosecution team. They have shown true professionalism, demonstrating not only the legal and experience to prepare and argue a case but also, and very importantly, the human touch.

"The whanau are also grateful for the overwhelming support they have experienced during the past few weeks here in Rotorua, not only from friends and relatives but also from complete strangers who have shown gestures large and small, a genuine kindness and empathy that has helped to alleviate the burden of sitting through the trial.

"Finally, the family would like to end with an acknowledgement to George who was so much more than simply a victim of a crime. A husband, father, grandfather, workmate and friend. Nothing can bring him back but his legacy will endure. His whanau are committed to moving forward to living lives he would be proud of and honouring his memory every day."

READ MORE: Winders family 'obsessed' with money - widow

Winders, 46, previously pleaded not guilty after being arrested and charged with murder in December last year.

Mr Taiaroa's family began silently weeping as the verdict was announced. Winders' family said "we love you" as he left the dock.

Mr Taiaroa, 65, was shot and killed as he operated a stop-go sign at roadworks on Tram Rd, Atiamuri in 2013.

Winders' trial lasted five weeks with the jury hearing from more than 150 witnesses, visiting key locations in and around Tram Rd and examining Winders' blue Jeep Cherokee.

Justice Kit Toogood said in his summary it was inconceivable why anyone would want to kill Mr Taiaroa who was "a lovely man by all accounts".

But he urged the jury to not let any sympathies felt towards either the Taiaroa or Winders families to influence the outcome.

Winders will be sentenced on November 2, 2016 in Rotorua.

PROSECUTION

Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon argued several crucial things linked Winders to the murder of Mr Taiaroa.

These included his blue Jeep Cherokee, CCTV footage showing Winders could have been at the scene at the right time, his .22 rifle matching what is believed to be the murder weapon, his contact with Mr Taiaroa a week before his death, the fact he lied to police and that he lied to his employer about his whereabouts.

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

Gordon also addressed suggestions by defence lawyer Jonathan Temm that the murder was a case of mistaken identity and another Stop Go worker, Michael Pengelly, was the intended target.

"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."

DEFENCE

Jonathan Temm told the court Winders was framed and police ignored certain lines of inquiry and information during the investigation.

Temm said Winders did not know Taiaroa and urged the jury to look at the evidence in a "cool, objective and clinical way".

He explained why he called defence witnesses Aaron Jane and Glenn Law, who shot some of Winders' goats 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."

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.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 30 Sep 2016 21:45:59 Processing Time: 47ms