Suspect 'wired' on the day of George Taiaroa's murder

George Taiaroa (file)
George Taiaroa (file)

A Gisborne motorist involved in a traffic incident a week before stop-go worker George Taiaroa was shot has described the event the Crown says sparked Quinton Winders' revenge killing.

Quinton Winders is on trial for shooting the 67-year-old as revenge for a minor traffic accident a week earlier.

The man, Christopher Lenth, says he and two female friends were driving from New Plymouth to Opotiki on March 12, 2013. They were following a black Land Rover and trailer for five to 10 minutes when they came across roadworks.

The Crown says this was Winders and his father.

Mr Lenth told the court: "I saw a blue ute on the left-hand verge, with a stop-go sign leaning up against the back of the ute. Someone was waving their hand out the window."

He recounted how when he and his friends stopped their car at the roadworks, "the vehicle in front the black Land Rover backed up quickly and into the front of our car".

Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon pressed the witness, who said the pair appeared to be father and son - one in his 60s, the other in his 40s.

The older man got out and exchanged insurance details, before going back to his black Land Rover.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Temm asked Mr Lenth: "The collective view in your car as you drove away was that the stop-go road sign was not clearly displayed and that the road worker was not doing his job?"

The answer: "Yes."

The witness told the court the two men who'd backed into them didn't appear to "speak poorly" of the road worker at any time before leaving the scene after the accident.

Another Crown witness said she saw a man resembling Winders race past her in a blue Jeep Cherokee the day of the murder.

Corina Walker said the man appeared "wired" and angry as he drove erratically up behind her near Atiamuri.

"It was a crazy driver. He did not look like your average person passing you - he had big eyes and was in a hurry."

She said the clean-shaven Caucasian man with slightly olive skin had a straight fringe and wide, angry eyes - the same man she picked out of a police line-up two months after the murder.

"As soon as I saw that face it hit me like a tonne of bricks that that was the person I had seen that day."

But the defence questioned her memory of the man's skin colour, the tint of the car's windows and the fact it had grey upholstery, not tan, as she remembered.

"If you're right today that the window was down halfway not to obstruct your vision, then your memory must be of a dark-skinned person," said Mr Temm to Ms Walker.

The court also heard Ms Walker called police after the initial sighting of the Jeep Cherokee, saying she'd seen the same car and followed it. The Defence again called her memory into question.

"The police have told you the vehicle you followed was a Nissan Torano," said Mr Temm.

The jury will tomorrow leave the confines of the courtroom and board a bus bound for Atiamuri. They'll see for themselves the scene of the crime where Mr Taiaroa was shot that day in March 2013.


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