Six murders in Canterbury this year

16:00, Dec 28 2012
VICTIM: Kenneth Moore, 65, was bashed to death with a cricket bat in his Waltham home on January 6.

Violence against women dominated Canterbury murders in 2012.

There have been six murders in the region this year. Four of the victims were women who suffered fatal injuries at the hands of people they knew.

Two of them were young mothers. One victim's 3-year-old child was in the house when the killing occurred and may have heard her mother's screams for help.

Keith Donald Bonner
KILLED BY A FRIEND: Tracey Lee Morris.

An arrest was made in all six cases.

Three of those arrested pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. The others are still before the courts.

The year also saw a significant development in a long-running murder investigation, with an arrest made for the 2008 murder of Christchurch prostitute Mellory Manning.


Sameera Chandrasena
KILLED: Sameera Chandrasena.

Mauha Huatahi Fawcett, 24, unemployed, was arrested in Auckland in March, with a trial set down for next year.

Still unresolved are the murders of Alfred Anderson (1982), John Reynolds (1996) and Kirsty Bentley (1998).

Crime statistics released in July showed the number of murders increased significantly in Canterbury for the 2011-12 financial year, with 10 recorded. This compared with three in 2010-11 and five in 2009-10.

MICHELLE MARY LAWRENCE: Died in hospital after suffering critical injuries.
MICHELLE MARY LAWRENCE: Died in hospital after suffering critical injuries.

District crime manager Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald said Canterbury's homicide numbers were in line with what could be expected nationally. ''We would obviously hope for less,'' he said.

''One is too many, but we've got to be realistic. We are going to get homicides [and] we are prepared for it.''

He said the domestic-related, male v female aspect to murders this year reflected an ''unfortunate'' international trend.

Sina Solomona
FOUND DEAD: Ashburton mother Sina Solomona.

Fitzgerald said police had a focus on intervening in violence and ''problem families'' early. ''People keep silent when they see relationships falling apart or abusive relationships. Everyone is to blame when things fall apart.

"We need to know - from families, from neighbours.''

He attributed Canterbury's high success rate for solving murders to having experienced detectives in the region and throwing ''all our resources at homicides''.

Work was continuing on the Anderson and Reynolds investigations, he said. No officers were actively working on the Bentley inquiry, but the file was still open. ''There are inquiries being done when required,'' he said.

Kenneth John Moore, 65, was bludgeoned to death with a cricket bat at a house in Goldsmith Pl, Waltham, on January 6. His stepson, Christopher Glenn Gleeson, 25, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 11 years and four months for his murder. Gleeson struck him three times on the back of the head after they had argued earlier in the day. Gleeson did not offer aid and sat in a chair for half an hour while Moore lay bleeding from the ear and mouth. His body was found on January 9.

Tracey Lee Morris, 46, of Northcote, was found in early January in the back of her blue Honda Civic in Grays Rd, near Christchurch International Airport. She was found naked from the breasts down, with her leggings wrapped around her neck. The leggings had been used to strangle her. She had also suffered head injuries. Truck driver Keith Donald Bonner, 53, was jailed for life for her sexual violation and murder, with a term of 13 years before he can apply for parole. The two had known each other for 23 years, and continued to see each other as friends after their relationship had ended in 1994-95. She had visited Bonner at his house on January 3 and he set up a bed for her in the sunroom so that she would not drive after drinking. 

Sameera Chandrasena, 28-year-old Sri Lankan farmer, was found dead in a burnt-out house he rented in Domain Rd, Oxford on Feb 23. A trial for two men charged with his murder - Viraj Alahakoon, 34, and Thuvan Prawesh Sawal, 24, both Sri Lankans living in St Albans - has been set to start in the High Court in Christchurch on June 24, 2013. Both remain in custody.

Michelle Mary Lawrence, 41, died in Christchurch Hospital on June 30 after an alleged attack at a house on Worcester St, Linwood, on June 10. Timothy Joseph Foley, 52, unemployed, was arrested soon after the incident. He was held in custody on a charge of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm until her death, when the charge was changed to murder. His trial is likely to be in September 2013. 

Name suppressed: A 24-year-old Burwood woman was stabbed to death in her home, on July 11 while her 3-year-old daughter was in the house. Kaiapoi market gardener Paul Andrew Gottermeyer, 29, was sentenced to life imprisonment and given a first-strike warning which imposes heavier penalties on repeat violent offenders. He inflicted wounds to the woman's head, chest, back, and hands and throat.

Sina Narisa Solomona, Ashburton mother, 22, was attacked while alone in her Cass St home on Dec 15. She suffered blunt trauma and blade wounds to her head, face and throat. A male youth has been charged with her murder. He will appear in the Ashburton youth court on Jan 14.


❏ Alfred Anderson - The 64-year-old  was found by his son on Queen's Birthday Monday, 1982, lying on the living-room floor of his Waltham unit in a pool of blood, his throat slit. He had also taken a savage beating.

❏ John Reynolds - The 55-year-old scrap dealer was bludgeoned to death in 1996, probably with a heavy steel object, in his Sydenham workshop.

❏ Kirsty Bentley  - The 15-year-old disappeared ntsG on nte while walking her dog on the Ashburton River bank on December 31, 1998. Her body was found 18 days later.

The Press