9 Dec 2016

Stop-go murder 'cold blooded execution'

6:28 pm on 9 December 2016

The man who killed road worker George Taiaroa, as he operated a stop-go sign in Waikato in 2013, has been sentenced to to life in prison with a non-parole period of 17 years.

Quinton Winders shot Mr Taiaroa, a 67-year-old father of four, on 19 March 2013 as he worked at a one-lane bridge near Atiamuri south of Tokoroa.

He was sentenced at the High Court in Rotorua today.

George Taiaroa (left) and Quinton Winders

Quinton Winders, right, shot George Taiaroa, left, in the head. Photo: Supplied

Winders was found guilty of murder in a trial which ended in early September.

At his trial, the Crown said Winders, 45, had a minor run-in with Mr Taiaroa in early March 2013 and returned to the roadworks a week later, shooting him in the head before fleeing in his blue Jeep Cherokee.

Winders' defence claimed the entire case was one of mistaken identity. His lawyer had told the court Winders had never met Mr Taiaroa, nor did he have any reason to kill him.

At sentencing today, Justice Toogood described Mr Taiaroa's killing as a cold blooded execution.

He said it was a terrible crime that could not be explained by Mr Winders' background. It was an unprovoked attack on an unsuspecting man.

"You had your loaded rifle close to hand and you summoned Mr Taiaroa over to your vehicle in order to get a close shot, that would inevitably kill him."

Justice Toogood said Winders was a loner and his actions were calculated.

Outside court, Quinton Winders' sister Miranda said police had framed an innocent man.

She told media that while Mr Taiaroa did not deserve what happened to him, and his family needed closure, it was not her brother who did it.

"We are saddened by the lack of professionalism given by New Zealand police and the way that they've handled this case, based off circumstantial evidence and incriminating and framing an innocent man, who has never met George Taiaroa and could not even identify George prior to this case."

Ms Winders said the outcome was not closure for either her or the Taiaroa family.