Workmate describes the day George Taiaroa was shot

George Taiaroa (file)
George Taiaroa (file)

A traffic controller working with George Taiaroa on the day he died has described the moment he found out his workmate had been shot.

Michael Pengelly was working on the opposite side of a one-lane bridge on Tram Rd in Atiamuri on March 19, 2013. He and Mr Taiaroa were using stop-go signs to control the flow of traffic across the bridge.

In the afternoon, Mr Pengelly noticed a blue Jeep Cherokee come "flying" past him. He attempted to make a note of the vehicle's number plate to report the incident to his boss, but told the High Court at Rotorua the Jeep didn't have a number plate.

He then noticed a logging truck he'd let through moments earlier had stopped on the other side of the bridge near Mr Taiaroa's position. He wanted to let another vehicle through, but when he tried to radio Mr Taiaroa, he got no response.

He walked up on to the bridge to get a clear view of Mr Taiaroa and then noticed that "everyone was running around like headless chickens. I looked and saw George lying on the ground and thought he might have had a heart attack or heat stroke."

When he got to the other side of the bridge a workmate told him Mr Taiaroa had been shot.

"I went over to George, kneeled down, put my hand on his shoulder and said, 'Don't worry we've got help coming.' He was looking at me and then he started fading."

Quinton Winders, 45, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Taiaroa.

Mr Pengelly told the court he didn't see the driver of the Jeep, which fled the scene, but noticed the vehicle had a wheel rack on the back, but no spare tyre.

Crown lawyers have told the court previously that in the weeks after the killing, police found a spare wheel and tow bar which fitted a Jeep Cherokee owned by the accused.

The items were pulled out from bush near his property in Whangamomona, along with a hard hat with the name "Quin" on it.

The trial continues.