Murder charge in Huntsbury case

Last updated 15:45 23/02/2010
Gaynor White
TRAGICALLY MISSED: Gaynor White nurses her first and only grandchild, Dylan. White was found murdered in her Huntsbury Hill home last Friday.

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Police have charged a man with the murder of Christchurch grandmother Gaynor Alice White, who was found dead in her home on Friday afternoon. 

Shaun Timothy Skilling, 22, was to appear in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow. He already faces charges of burglary and taking White's car.

Acting Detective Inspector David Long acknowledged the support from the public who assisted in the relatively quick progress made on the inquiry but still needed to hear from anybody else who could have information.

The scene examination at Mrs White's home is expected to be completed in the next couple of days, as a large number of police officers continue to work collecting and analysing evidence.

Family grief-stricken by killing

Gaynor White only had a brief time with her grandson Dylan, but that time is one of the few positives for her grief-stricken family.

White, 62, was found dead in her Huntsbury home on Friday afternoon. She had suffered head injuries. Her car was gone and several items were missing from the house.

An unemployed Parklands man, Shaun Skilling, 22, appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday  charged with burglary and taking White's car, as well as a further burglary charge and assault of another woman.

White's daughter, Leonie Wallace, 36, told The Press yesterday her mother doted on her first and only grandchild, Dylan, who turns two next month.

In the days before her death, White had bought air tickets to attend his birthday in Auckland after using her cake-decorating skills last year to ice his first birthday cake.

"We've got a wee boy in there who's never going to see his nana again," Wallace said.

She said her mother, who had been widowed for six years, had recently been spreading her wings. She had a regular Wednesday night dinner with friends, that she had nicknamed "gobble and go".

She had also been "bitten by the travel bug" and was planning a trip to Europe in July with a friend.

Son Craig White, 33, said the family were still reeling from the death.

"It's not our reality," he said.

"Everything she did in her life was good. You live a good life, you work hard, you do everything right ... and this happens."

White and Wallace, accompanied by friends and family, told The Press of a woman renowned for her hard work and selfless devotion to others.

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When her husband Dennis died from cancer in 2004, White took over the family business, Wraggs Manufacturing.

Three years later, when the business was wound up, White helped place staff in other jobs, making calls to companies and even driving workers to job interviews.

Westport-born and Christchurch-raised, White was an artistic person who made clothes, painted, made toys and was an expert cake decorator.

"Her work had to be done to perfection – if it wasn't, she saw the flaws and couldn't see anything else," Wallace said.

White gardened and liked to fish, Craig White said.

"Well, she liked to put a line in the water," he said.

She was a clean-living person whose biggest vice was television and her love of Nicolas Cage movies, Wallace said.

Acting Detective Inspector Dave Long said police believed the Mazda Lantis car taken from White's home had travelled "extensively" through Christchurch on Friday, and at times contained several people.

Long asked that anyone who had seen the car, or who had contact with Skilling, contact police on 0800 HUNTSBURY (0800 486872).

Skilling made no plea and was remanded in custody to March 8.

- The Press

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