Grief, shock and anger over Rarotonga killings

Chris Rimamotu (Cook Islands Police)
Chris Rimamotu (Cook Islands Police)

The family of a woman killed by her ex-partner in Rarotonga say they are not coping well following her and her partner's violent deaths. 

Chris Rimamotu took his own life after killing ex-partner Mary Dean and her new partner Roger Tauera, but not before escaping from prison guards and sparking a major manhunt. Dean Family spokeperson Patrick Tavai said the family are not coping very well.

"Emotionally they are all over the place, there’s grief and pockets of anger about what's happened."

The shootings forced most of the island into lockdown - it's the first double-shooting suicide of its kind Rarotonga's experienced.

Violent crime is rare in Rarotonga, and it’s been a dramatic 24 hours for both police and residents. The manhunt only ended when the suspect was cornered and then he turned the gun on himself. Rimamotu was holed up inside a house in Titikaveka Village for four hours before police discovered his body. Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said: "Shots were fired while we were there but those shots were not from police – it was from within the house." Rimamotu was doing time in jail for the abduction and sexual assault of a young girl when he gave prison guards the slip. The suspect was allowed access to a container at his home while on a prison community work programme. Incredibly, this is where he grabbed his gun and ammunition and then, police say, he went on to kill. Resident Theresa Hoeft said it was "totally shocking".  "Saying its unusual is putting it mildly ... Things like this don’t happen in paradise." Police notified the public of the shooting via Facebook and text – but that was some hours after the prisoner had escaped. "I can only apologise if people felt they were not notified earlier, but we did have procedures in place and I think that was followed," said Mr Tetava. Rimamotu and his ex-partner Mary Dean had a nine-year-old boy, who is safe and with police but now without either of his parents. Ms Dean was from Tokoroa and Newshub's been told her family found out about her killing through Facebook. In another worrying development, the weapon Rimamotu used to kill was not registered, and was believed to have been imported illegally. Police say the shooting could lead to a major shake-up of gun control laws in the Cook Islands.