Grandfather was “innocent victim of cold-blooded murder” at Atiamuri

News from NZ Police
Police believe that grandfather George Taiaroa was the innocent victim of a cold-blooded murder and anyone protecting the person responsible has seriously misplaced loyalty.

When George was shot in Atiamuri there was no clear motive for the shooting and extensive enquiries into his background served only to reinforce that he was a well-loved, friendly, family man who disliked conflict.

With significant help from the community the investigation team have been making positive progress and now believe they know the motive behind the killing.

Detective Inspector Tim Anderson said: “It is our belief that George was sought out and targeted by his killer; however we do not believe that George or his family knew his killer. There is no evidence that this was a case of mistaken identity. The information we have unearthed tells us that George was the intended target and that the killer had a misguided motive, but George had not done anything that could justify anyone wishing him or anyone else any harm.

“I can’t stress enough that since day one of this investigation the picture painted of George wherever we have turned has been a bright and positive one. He was a good man who deserved to live a long and happy life with his loving family.

“In order to protect the investigation I am not prepared to comment in any detail on the killer’s motivation. What I will say is that no act justifies taking a life but I find this particular motive beyond comprehension.”

The investigation team also remain of the belief that there are people who know or suspect who is responsible for the murder of George Taiaroa and are actively assisting or protecting him.

“Let me leave no one in any doubt that assisting a murderer is an extremely serious offence and we will have absolutely no hesitation in prosecuting anyone found to be assisting, aiding or encouraging the suspect in relation to this crime. We are not talking about a petty crime here. George was shot and killed in cold blood; his life taken from his whänau. If anyone thinks it is acceptable to protect the person responsible, they have some seriously misplaced loyalty; I would even go as far as to say it is tantamount to pulling the trigger,” said DI Anderson.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the investigation team directly on 0800 Kingswood (0800 546 479). Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

News from NZ Police – 29 April
Detectives investigating the murder of George Taiaroa are appealing to the public of Benneydale after the discovery of items of interest in the area. The discovery was made in an area of bush on privately owned land late last week.

Police will not disclose what the items are, but believe they were discarded in the bush on Tuesday, 19 March, the day of the murder. They are now being sent off for forensic analysis.

Following the shooting there was a cluster of sightings of the offender’s blue Jeep Cherokee driving at speed and erratically up through the Pureora Forest. The last sighting in that cluster was on Barryville Road a road from which you could head to a number of locations including Benneydale. Recent enquiries suggest the murderer was likely to have passed through or even stopped in Benneydale and this led to a small number of officers heading to the area last week and making the discovery.

“We have established that the suspect is familiar with the Benneydale area and may have considered it a bit of a safe haven to lie low in the bush until he felt calm enough and confident enough to be back out on the road,” said Detective Inspector Tim Anderson. “This recent discovery reinforces that the clock will never stop until George’s killer is held accountable.”

Police are asking the Benneydale community to cast their minds back the day of the murder and consider any sightings or information that might prove useful.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the investigation team directly on 0800 Kingswood (0800 546 479). Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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