Killer's appeal rejected

Last updated 12:00 16/12/2013

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The family of murder victim Marice McGregor say they are relieved they won't have to sit through the anguish of a retrial, after her killer's appeal against his conviction was thrown out.

In 2011 Dean Richard Mulligan, of Feilding, was found guilty by a jury in the High Court at Whanganui of murdering Marice "Katrina" McGregor, 45, of Whanganui, a year after her body was found in bush down a bank north of Whanganui. Mulligan, who was having an affair with her, was sentenced to serve at least 15 years of a life term in jail.

The Court of Appeal heard his appeal in Wellington on November 20, and issued its decision on Friday. The judges found his evidence neither credible nor fresh, and evidence from a psychiatrist that he had psychological problems that may have hindered him from telling "the full story" at his trial was implausible.

Mulligan sought a retrial on the basis he could not say all he knew at his trial out of fear of reprisal from two men he had named in evidence, and had failed to talk about drug-related activities he and Ms McGregor had carried out at their behest.

He said Phil Morrison was Ms McGregor's killer, and that Morrison and another man, Max Twedale, threatened and sexually abused him until he confessed.

The Court of Appeal said the only new evidence Mulligan had produced was that of the drug offending, and there was no evidence Ms McGregor was involved with any drugs. The involvement of the two men held no credibility as police inquiries had failed to turn up any evidence pointing to them.

An affidavit from a psychiatrist said Mulligan had chronic low self-esteem, poor inter-personal skills and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of childhood sexual abuse. This was given as a reason why he may not have felt comfortable giving the drugs evidence, but that was dismissed.

His alleged psychological vulnerability did not explain how he could detail sexual abuse from one of the men, but not their involvement in transporting drugs, the judges found.

Given that much of Mulligan's appeal evidence was heard by the jury, and the "overwhelming" strength of the Crown case, they did not believe the jury would have acquitted Mulligan had they heard the drug-delivery evidence.

Rowan McGregor, the victim's brother, said yesterday Mulligan's grounds for appeal were in keeping with his trial. "As far as him making up stories is concerned, I think the story he used in appeal was reason No 5, if you could keep track."

Mulligan's brother, Shaun Mulligan, who has publicly denounced his brother, said the decision was right and the one he was expecting.

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- Manawatu Standard

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