The man who murdered German backpacker Birgit Brauer has more than 65 convictions dating back to when he was a juvenile, and had previously raped a woman.
Phone call brings closure for murdered tourist's parents
Michael Scott Wallace, 46, was found guilty in the High Court at New Plymouth yesterday after a trial lasting almost three weeks.
The Dominion Post can now reveal that his criminal career spanned 30 years and he has numerous burglary and driving convictions.
In 1976 Wallace was convicted in juvenile court of arson, and five years later he was convicted of aggravated assault and possessing a firearm.
In 1983 he raped a woman in Palmerston North and assaulted another person in the same house.
In 1990, after robbing a dairy with a revolver, he went on to gather convictions on small drugs charges and for offensive behaviour, burglary, obstructing police and drink-driving.
On September 20, 2005, Wallace picked up 28-year-old Ms Brauer as she hitch-hiked between Wanganui and New Plymouth.
He drove her to Lucy's Gully, near Oakura, southwest of New Plymouth, where he bludgeoned the tourist with a metal bar, then dragged her bleeding body into the bush.
After stamping on her neck, he ripped off her shoes and socks, before he unbuttoned her jeans with sexual intent.
A passing car spooked him, however, and he picked up a knife and plunged it through her heart.
Ms Brauer's body was found that day by a jogger who saw drag marks leading into the bush.
Wallace was arrested by the armed offenders squad 18 days later, after a manhunt.
He denied the murder, saying police had got the wrong man.
It took the jury 4½ hours to reach its verdict.
Wallace clamped his hands together and shut his eyes tight as it was read out.
Crown prosecutor Tim Brewer indicated to Justice Mark Cooper that the Crown may seek preventive detention for Wallace when he is sentenced on September 27.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward, phoned Ms Brauer's parents in Germany immediately after the verdict and spoke to them for about 15 minutes with the help of an interpreter.
It was not the first time Mr Coward had called Germany since the trial began.
Almost daily the Brauers had been kept informed of proceedings with phone calls to their home in Brandenburg, a district east of Berlin.
Mr Coward said Knut and Annemarie Brauer had struggled to sleep for the past few nights in anticipation of a verdict.
"They are very pleased, they are very emotional as you can expect, and they feel that there has been some burden lifted from them and there has been some closure of sorts for them, although they will obviously never have their daughter back."
Tireless police work had gone into the investigation which was a "huge team effort", Mr Coward said. He commended the work of the large investigation team.
"On day two of this investigation I said that we would get our man, and we have."
Public help had played a big part too and he commended those who had given evidence during the trial.
Wallace's lawyer, Susan Hughes, QC, said: "He is very disappointed in the verdict. I think the words he used is he is shattered by the verdict."
- With Taranaki Daily News and NZPA
- The Dominion Post
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