Doubt lingers in Feilding
Ewen Macdonald may have been found not guilty of murdering his brother-in-law Scott Guy by a jury of 11, but a long shadow of doubt still looms over the community to which he will soon be free to return.
News of the verdict spread like wildfire throughout Feilding yesterday as the final chapter of two years of investigation and a high-profile murder trial came to a close.
But for the Manawatu town that played involuntary host to one of the country's biggest stories, much still remains unwritten as the community questions whether someone will ever be held accountable for the loss of one of their members.
Since the jury retired to consider its verdict on Monday afternoon, the capital letters were just about audible in people's speech for the two days, and The Verdict reigned as talk of the town.
Many knew the Guy or Macdonald families and most were guarded in identifying themselves or their estimation of the characters in the perplexing murder mystery.
Few in Feilding were seduced by the Crown's evidence.
But after the news of Macdonald's fate came from Wellington, some wondered whether the face that has dominated their newspaper front pages could ever fade back in among the crowds treading Feilding's prettily-paved streets.
"I think it would be very hard, it will be very hard. We're all creatures of habit aren't we, with ill-conceived ideas,'' said Shane, who preferred not to give his full name, as he took an evening pint at Feilding's Murphy's Irish Pub.
"I think everyone deserves a second chance.''
Others were less forgiving.
"How far do you have to go?'' pondered punter David Grantham. "It's just mindblowing, isn't it? I hope he does time for all the other bad things he did.''
The traditional confessionals became a place to swap theories and speculate, with Feilding's pubs and hairdressers doing a roaring trade in trial talk these past four weeks.
Taking in the trial on television at the Feilding Hotel, Robert Wishnowsky did not envy what lay ahead for Macdonald or his family.
"I think I'd be starting life somewhere else, in a different part of New Zealand, perhaps even Australia,'' he said.
The Shed hairdresser, Renee, said the hundreds of customers they'd seen in past weeks provided a fair barometer of the town's mood.
"A lot of people have just said the same thing, like, there's not enough evidence.''
Before the verdict, rumours had flown.
People offered candid theories about the missing puppies, whisperings of drugs, sordid relationships, and that mystery car.
Most stories were wild and inaccurate, but some were also a lesson that all that has been suppressed in a high-profile murder trial cannot escape a well-oiled rumour mill.
Lanya, from Bulls, awaited the trial's outcome concerned that an innocent man might go to prison.
Manawatu mayor Margaret Kouvelis said she hoped a sad story could be put to bed and the families given space to retreat from the public eye.
"As mayor, I'm impressed with this town's resilience and with its down-to-earth, practical good common sense which says these people belong to us, they're part of our family and we want to make sure they can move freely and safely within our community without having prying eyes and ears.
"I think they need to be respected for what they're going through and what they are yet to go through, and we can give them the space and privacy that they need.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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