A coroner's findings have uncovered harrowing details of a man who took his life after strangling his ex-partner with her own necklace and violently killing her dog.
The murder-suicide findings released this week by Coroner Mary-Anne Borrowdale relate to the deaths of Ngaire Ellen McKenzie, 61, and Murray James Daley, 58, at McKenzie's home in Jellicoe St, Waipukurau, on June 3, 2017.
She found Daley had fatally strangled McKenzie, then also strangled her dog with its lead while still in its cage, and then committed suicide.
Each with adult children, the deceased had met in 2014 and joined in a de-facto relationship when Daley moved into McKenzie's home about a year later.
The Coroner said McKenzie and her circle of friends and family appeared to have been unaware of Daley's violence towards women in previous relationships.
Incidents had been reported to police in 1994 and 2006, and he had a trespass notice issued against him in 2013, but the Coroner's report gave no indication he had ever been charged with any related offence.
To promote greater awareness of the warning signs, Borrowdale directed her findings be distributed to media, the Ministry for Women, the New Zealand Police communications team and national family violence network Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga.
She said McKenzie died at the hands of her former partner "… in circumstances where he may not previously have been physically violent with her, but where he was controlling, threatening, and isolating her".
She encouraged police, the ministry and agencies to "clearly" communicate to the public how to spot such behaviour, or "red flags", and on the fact that such behaviour is now "criminally enforceable".
She said Daley struggled to accept a break-up in the relationship and when police arrived after being summoned by a friend who had concerns for the woman's wellbeing.
McKenzie had worked as a caregiver for Access Homecare, and had two daughters with whom she maintained a close relationship. The Coroner said she was known as a "very kind person, generous and apt to see past others' human faults and to do her best to ease their situation".
Daley had two sons and a daughter – the daughter having described him as a loving and caring father, who changed after a work accident which affected his ability to work.
A psychologist had in 2015 assessed Daley had a qualifying mental injury resulting from the accident, and he had no job in the time leading up to the tragedy.
National Network of Family Violence Services/Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga CEO Merran Lawler said the Coroner's report was a "sobering read" because it demonstrated how quickly an abuser's "red flags" of violence could escalate to murder.
"In this country, we tend to think about family violence as daily instances of bruises, black eyes, broken bones and police involvement.
"The reality is that it is often played out in the form of behaviours where any single instance may seem so minor or trivial that some people would not even consider them 'violent'.
"Yet when amassed together those behaviours show an escalating pattern of intimidation and control of a victim by the abuser.
"It remains a fundamental concern that we continue to expect women, their friends and family to be alert to those red flags rather than insisting men, whose behaviour gives rise to the red flags, recognise their violence and stop - or get help to stop."
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