A man who confessed to killing a young woman but was later acquitted of her murder has moved into the same street as the dead woman's mother.
The body of Katherine Sheffield, 23, was found at a farm in Mangonui, Northland in September 1994. Her throat had been cut and she had been buried in a shallow grave.
During a videotaped interview, Noel Clement Rogers confessed to police he killed Ms Sheffield and dumped her clothes in a long-drop toilet.
Mr Rogers was charged with murder but the video confession was ruled inadmissible as evidence and was not shown to the jury. He was acquitted after a High Court trial in 2005. The confession was later broadcast on national television after TVNZ won a Supreme Court decision.
Now Mr Rogers has moved into the same street as Judith Garrett, Ms Sheffield's mother, who was devastated to learn he now lived just 11 houses away from her Mangonui home.
"I was absolutely amazed. I had absolutely no idea he was living here. I'm feeling a bit worried at the moment. I can't believe that he's there," she said.
"It really is a very nice place to live. I love it here and I feel like I've only just settled ... I just want him gone. I don't care where he goes so long as he gets away from me."
Ms Garrett said she had yet to see Mr Rogers in the street and was nervous about the prospect.
"I don't know what I'd do if I bumped into him I don't think I could do anything, I'd probably just stand and stare ... it's a horrible thought."
She compared the situation to that of an Invercargill woman who was distressed when a man convicted of raping her moved in next door.
Ms Garrett's partner Angus Fisk has distributed flyers warning people Mr Rogers was living there.
Mr Fisk said: " The response from neighbours has been of shock and alarm. There has been no response from Noel. We'll just see what happens there."
Mr Rogers moved into a house occupied by Dave More, who said he had known him for years.
"Noel is no trouble here," Mr More said. "Those people down the street just like to stir. I know it's her daughter he's been acquitted of killing. He doesn't hassle them or do nothing in this street. He just walks down to the shop."
Mr Rogers could not be contacted last night.
Lawyer and civil rights specialist Michael Bott said cases such as this often were difficult emotionally, but since he was acquitted of the crime and never convicted he was free to live wherever he wanted to.
"I would question his motives for doing so though. Why would you want to? I wouldn't and I think most people wouldn't, but it's [a] question for him."
As uncomfortable as it was for the community he was free to live wherever he wanted to.
Justice Minister Judith Collins would not discuss the Northland case but said the Harassment Act 1997 provided protection for people who were being harassed. "Protecting the rights of victims is something this Government takes extremely seriously - it stands by its commitment to putting victims' needs at the heart of our justice system."
- Additional reporting Northern Advocate