'We feel numb': Michelle Hoffman-Tamm's children

As a Rotorua woman faced a charge of murdering Michelle Hoffman-Tamm, the dead woman's daughter says  she still feels numb knowing her mother is gone.

Gwenda Leigh Sloane aka Pluss, 44, a process worker, appeared in the Rotorua District Court yesterday before Judge Chris McGuire charged with murder. She was originally charged with assault but that was withdrawn by the police prosecutor Sergeant Bill Scott yesterday and she now faces a charge of murdering Ms Hoffman-Tamm on November 7 at Rotorua.

During the appearance, name suppression for Sloane was lifted. She appeared at the start of the day but was stood down to see a forensic nurse to see if a mental health report was needed.

When Sloane appeared later in the morning, her lawyer Harry Edward said there was no basis to seek a mental health report.

Sloane has not entered a plea to the charge and Judge McGuire remanded Sloane in custody until December 12.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm, 51, went missing after last being seen on her red mountain bike on November 7, when she left the Philip St home she shared with her partner to visit friends.

Police found her body on November 23 in a forested area just off State Highway 38.

During the court appearance, Sloane was seen to turn to Ms Hoffman-Tamm's family in the public gallery and mouth words to them.

Ms Hoffman-Tamm's partner as well as her two children, Monique and Rhys, and other friends and family were in court yesterday.

Outside court, Monique, who has three children, said she felt numb.

"I saw her every day. I spoke to her every day. My kids saw her every day or every couple of days. I'm not sleeping, I'm not really eating, I've dropped a lot of weight ...  I can't believe she has gone,'' Monique said.

She said she kept waiting for her mother to call her on the telephone and say "Muffin, come get me,''. Muffin was

Ms Hoffman-Tamm's nickname for her daughter.

"My kids keep asking, they want to see `nanny'.''

Rhys, who lives in Hamilton, told The Daily Post life had been really hard since his mother's death and said his children had never got to meet their grandmother.

"I'm just numb. I feel a lot of sadness.''

Close family friend Cassie Latemore said outside court that she had travelled from Tokoroa to be in court yesterday and said she planned to travel to Rotorua for every court appearance.

She had known Ms Hoffman-Tamm for more than 20 years and  was devastated when she heard what had happened to her.

"I'm not a blood relative but I grew up calling her Auntie Michelle ... She was the most gentlest, kindest person.''


- Rotorua Daily Post

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