11 Dec 2015

Akl couple were shot dead by woman's ex

5:13 pm on 11 December 2015

A coroner has found that an Auckland couple who were shot dead in bed were killed by the woman's former partner, who subsequently killed himself.

Glenys Stanton, 47, and Trevor Waite, 51, were found dead with multiple gunshot wounds at Mr Waite's home at Opaheke, Papakura, in August 2013.

Then, just days after the murders, Ms Stanton's former partner John Mowatt fatally shot himself in Woodhill Forest, west of Auckland, as police officers closed in.

Police wrapped up their investigation last year, saying they believed Mr Mowatt killed the couple and would have been charged with murder had he survived.

In findings released today, Coroner Katharine Greig formally confirmed that theory, saying the circumstantial evidence was clear.

The result was the violent deaths of Ms Stanton and Mr Waite; the coroner's findings said both had been shot eight times, after their killer fired shots into a ranchslider door to gain access to the bedroom where they were sleeping.

Several of the gunshot wounds were likely to have been inflicted after the pair were already dead, the report said.

Mr Waite's teenage daughter discovered the bodies two days later, on 25 August.

Mr Mowatt, described by one of his sons as a "gun nut", had been very emotional in the wake of both his marriage break-up and the end of his relationship with Ms Stanton, the coroner's findings said.

When he visited his mother a few days before the murders, she said her ex-husband was "like a tight wire that was about to snap".

Several people - including a stranger Mr Mowatt had met on a tramp - said he spoke of suicide in the lead-up to the deaths.

Aware the police were looking for him after the deaths, he ignored their attempts to contact him and told a friend he'd "gone bush".

Both Mr Mowatt's son and daughter repeatedly tried to get hold of him, with his son finally getting through on 27 August, the findings said.

"Mr Mowatt told his son that he had made some very bad decisions and could not see the way back."

His son told Mr Mowatt he'd been talking to the police and asked his father what had happened.

"Mr Mowatt replied: 'Messed up stuff, dark and messed up'."

Other evidence

There was other evidence Mr Mowatt had killed Ms Stanton and Mr Waite, the coroner found.

The gun used in the shootings was never found, but Mr Mowatt visited a storage locker where he kept firearms and ammunition on the morning of the killings.

Remnants of a balaclava were also found in a fireplace Mr Mowatt had been using at the house he was staying at.

Ms Greig also confirmed Mr Mowatt killed himself, saying that was witnessed by police helicopter staff and he had spoken of suicide.

Coroner Greig said she would not make any recommendations.

"The circumstances of these tragic deaths ... are not such that I am in a position to make recommendations that may prevent deaths in similar circumstances in the future."

Mr Mowatt's gun licence had been issued properly and no one considered he needed urgent medical help, she wrote.

"Although a number of people noticed Mr Mowatt's increasing unhappiness, emotional lability and vulnerability in the weeks and days before Ms Stanton and Mr Waite's deaths, I have no evidence that anyone had any thoughts that [his] behaviour was such that the lives of others may be at risk."

She extended her "heartfelt sympathies" to the families and friends of all three deceased.