Twelve years after pouring petrol over his partner and setting her alight, Rotorua man Gary Donald Mills is still trying to get his murder and arson convictions overturned.

Mills has taken his case to the Supreme Court of New Zealand to get documents disclosed that he hopes will help him get his convictions overturned.

He has long professed his innocence. He intended to use those documents for his appeal to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal's decision to dismiss his appeal against convictions but the application was thrown out.

The Supreme Court's decision, released online this month, described his attempt as a "belated fishing expedition".

Gary Donald Mills in court in 2009. Photo / File
Gary Donald Mills in court in 2009. Photo / File

The Ngongotahā man was convicted by a jury in the High Court at Rotorua in 2009 of murdering Lyn Delzoppo and the arson of their Ngongotahā home on May 1, 2008.

He was sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in jail.

Delzoppo died in Waikato Hospital from her injuries 28 days later aged 43.

Her death was described in the court at the time as "harrowing" as she was found by neighbours laying in a foetal position with her burning flesh peeling from her body.

The Supreme Court's decision said when Delzoppo was asked by the neighbours what happened, she repeatedly said Mills had poured petrol on her and the house and set her and the house alight.

She also told a neighbour that Mills had run away. She didn't speak again before her death.

The Supreme Court decision said Mills didn't give evidence at trial but in a statement to police the day after the fire said he was sleeping when the fire started and when he awoke, he put out the fire on Delzoppo, took her outside and went to a bar to get help.

He initially suggested she might have started the fire accidentally with a cigarette or candle but when the neighbour's account was put to him, he suggested her death was suicide by self-immolation.

Gary Donald Mills appearing in court in 2008. Photo / File
Gary Donald Mills appearing in court in 2008. Photo / File

He said there had been difficulties between him and Delzoppo and she had previously stabbed herself in the leg and claimed it was him, the decision said.


Mills submitted medical records were likely to provide more relevant information about her mental and physical health up until the time of the fire and therefore enable him to argue it was plausible her death was suicide.

He also suggested medical records could show adverse medical tests could have caused her to attempt suicide.

But it had already been noted in previous appeals that Delzoppo's last contact with Mental Health Services was in 2003 and although she was under half-yearly observation for abnormal results in 2008, there was no suggestion of an adverse diagnosis, the decision said.

The decision said there was no "realistic evidentiary foundation" for the suggestion that disclosure of more of Delzoppo's medical records was necessary in the interests of justice.

"On the contrary, this aspect of the application is really a belated fishing expedition."

The Supreme Court's decision said Mills' application wasn't helped by the lack of detail about his grounds for appeal or an explanation for the 10-year delay in bringing it.