The man found guilty of murdering road worker George Taiaroa near Rotorua five years ago is appealing his conviction and sentence.

Evidence that Quinton Winders, 46, had a propensity to shoot at people with little provocation should have been ignored by the jury, lawyer Philip Morgan QC told the Court of Appeal this morning.

Read more: Stop-go murder: Quinton Winders quick to pick up a gun

Taiaroa, 65, was shot dead as he operated a stop-go sign at roadworks on Tram Rd, Atiamuri, in 2013. The two men had a minor incident a week earlier.


Winders was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years in December 2016, after a jury found him guilty of killing Taiaroa.

Morgan argued at today's hearing in Wellington that propensity evidence brought up in the trial shouldn't have been used.

He said witnesses from two of the four incidents brought up as propensity evidence acknowledged they had not been shot at, but only that Winders had fired a warning shot nearby to let them know he was there, as in one case where a witness had been "spotlighting" possums near Winders' property.

Morgan said when the propensity evidence "ran out of puff, as it so evidently did", the judge should have told the jury to disregard it.

Crown lawyer Annabel Markham said there was "no basis" to remove the evidence from the jury's consideration, and that the only thing that would justify that was if the evidence was inadmissible, which it was not.

Morgan also spoke about an interview Winders gave to police after he was arrested and whether that interview should have been used at trial.

Read more: Lawyers sum up in stop-go murder trial

Arguments that it should be used were based on the "importance" of the evidence and that Winders was "happy" to speak to police at the time, but Morgan said Winders was only happy to speak to police because he was told he'd been arrested for reckless driving.

But a large part of the interview focused on events on March 12, the day Winders had a run-in with Taiaroa, a week before the killing.

He said Winders wasn't properly informed of what police were going to speak to him about, so did not know to seek legal help sooner.

Winders allegedly told a number of lies in his police interview that were used against him at trial.

Markham told the Court of Appeal police had made it "crystal clear" to Winders they wanted to speak to him about Taiaroa's death.

She pointed to several instances in the transcript of the interview where the officer told or reminded Winders one of the main points of the interview was to talk about Taiaroa's death.

Morgan also pointed to evidence two of the jurors complained about the foreperson being "bossy" and "unprepared to listen to the views of others".

He said the jurors sent a message to Justice Kit Toogood about the issue, and the judge sent the two jurors a message back telling them what they should do.

Justice Toogood did not tell counsel about the incident and said in one of his minutes that it was about "a minor issue of jury dynamics".

Morgan said counsel should have been told about the message and given the opportunity to submit to the judge what should be done.

This included, if necessary, applying to discharge a juror or even the entire jury, he said.

"Having jurors express such a concern ... raises the possibility that there was some discord amongst this jury that ultimately influenced the verdict."

Justice Denis Clifford told Morgan if Winders' defence lawyer was unhappy with the situation, he could have told the trial judge he wanted to know what the message was about.

Markham said it was not unusual for jurors to have such issues and it "certainly doesn't come close to incapacity".

"No miscarriage of justice arises in these circumstances," she said.

The judges have reserved their decision.