Murder-accused panicked after Taiaroa's murder - employer

Quinton Winders  (file)
Quinton Winders (file)

A former employer and university friend of murder-accused Quinton Winders says he thought it was suspicious he didn't turn up for work around the time George Taiaroa was murdered.

The High Court in Rotorua heard from Kieron O'Dwyer, who said he'd made an arrangement with Winders for him to complete some fencing work at his property in Bennydale on March 19, 2013, the same day Mr Taiaroa was shot.

But Mr O'Dwyer said Winders never turned up. He then heard about the murder of Mr Taiaroa in Atiamuri, and that police were searching for a blue jeep Cherokee.

"I had heard about the murder and thought it was suspicious that he was not there", Mr O'Dwyer told the court.

A few days later, Winders turned up at Mr O'Dwyer's father's home in Rotorua driving his Lotus sports car. When he asked where the blue jeep was, Winders told Mr O'Dwyer it had a flat battery.

On April 7, Mr O'Dwyer told the court Winders leapt out of a patch of grass as he came up the driveway of the family home in Rotorua and yelled "I'm under surveillance, I'm under surveillance". 

Winders then told Mr O'Dwyer that on the day of the killing, police had CCTV footage of him on camera in Taumaranui. Mr O'Dywer asked him where he went after that, and Winders told him: "I heard about the murder and I panicked and went back to my house in Whangamomona."  

When police searched Mr O'Dwyer's farm, they found a gun case and ammunition, which didn't belong to the farmer.

Around 2012 Mr O'Dwyer remembers seeing two rifles in Winders' Jeep.

"I just saw them. They were under the seat shoved into a gun bag and the seat was folded over."

Mr O'Dwyer told the court Winders' blue jeep Cherokee had a tow bar and spare tyre when he purchased it.

When police seized the Jeep, these items were missing from the vehicle. Both the tow bar and wheel were later found hidden in bush near the property of the accused in Pohokura, Whangamomona.