14 May 2010

Hit-and-run jury returns murder verdict

11:58 pm on 14 May 2010

A man has been found guilty of murdering a woman in a hit-and-run after her bag was snatched in South Auckland.

A jury in the High Court in Auckland on Friday found that Christopher Shadrock deliberately killed Joanne Wang after he tried to make a getaway with the bag.

Mrs Wang, 39, had struggled to stop her handbag from being taken at the Westfield shopping centre in Manukau in June 2008.

Five men have been found guilty of being accessories to the crime. They are: Maka Tuikolovatu, Lionel Tekanawa, Vila Lemanu, Mateni Lynch and Terence Tere.

The Crown said the men were a gang of thieves preying on shoppers that day. It said Shadrock, 23, tried to steal Mrs Wang's handbag, and when she would not give up, he tried to get away.

The Crown said when his reverse escape was blocked by another car, Shadrock chose to drive forward and hit Mrs Wang instead.

The defence said Shadrock admitted that he stole the handbag but never intended any harm, let alone to kill Mrs Wang, and asked the jury to consider a verdict of manslaughter.

The jury began its deliberations at 2.30pm on Thursday and returned with its verdicts about 2pm on Friday. Shadrock shook his head in disbelief as the verdict was read out.

As Justice Hansen thanked the jury for their service some jurors began crying, as did the family members of the men convicted. Mrs Wang's family quickly left the court without speaking.

Shane Tait, the lawyer for one of the men found guilty of being an accessory to the crime, says the defence team is disappointed with the murder verdict as they had been hoping for a manslaughter verdict.

The men will be sentenced on 2 July.