The family of New Plymouth woman Anne Elizabeth McCullough hit and killed by a car at the weekend have come together to farwell a woman who touched many with her kind nature.
Almost 500 people gathered at the New Plymouth crematorium to share their stories and hear about the woman known as 'Annie'.
Mrs McCullough's husband Jeff and her son Ollie both addressed the gathering and spoke lovingly about Mrs McCullough saying she was a once in a lifetime woman full of kindness and energy.
The family were devastated yesterday to hear the man allegedly responsible has now been charged with murder, a friend says.
Matthew Kinghorn, 27, appeared before Judge Josephine Bouchier in New Plymouth District Court yesterday.
Kinghorn was arrested and charged with the manslaughter of Anne Elizabeth McCullough, a mother of two, after the alleged hit-and-run on Frankley Rd on Saturday.
However, police have now withdrawn the manslaughter charge and replaced it with a charge of murder.
Judge Bouchier remanded Kinghorn in custody, without pleading, until November 8.
A report assessing Kinghorn's fitness to enter a plea to the charge will be prepared during his remand.
"Insanity at the time are the key issues for the court to be looking at," Judge Bouchier said.
Family, friends and work colleagues of Mrs McCullough filled the public gallery in the courthouse for Kinghorn's appearance.
Kinghorn stood in the dock with his head bowed and his right hand bandaged, during his brief appearance.
David Lean said Mrs McCullough's family were shocked to learn Kinghorn had been charged with murder.
"They were absolutely devastated. They are hurting," Mr Lean said.
He said the family were grateful for the support they had received from the community.
"Everybody has been doing as much as they can at a very difficult time."
Mrs McCullough was the daughter of Ike Flavell and daughter-in-law of John McCullough who were both cornerstones of the Taranaki rugby team during the Ranfurly Shield eras in the 1950s and 60s.
Mr Lean said the family were being very brave as they adjusted to the difficult situation they faced.
A service for Mrs McCullough will be held at the Taranaki Crematorium, Junction Rd, today at 11am.
Police say Mrs McCullough was jogging north on Frankley Rd when she was allegedly killed in a crash then put in the back seat of a purple 1987 Holden Commodore and dumped more than 10 kilometres away.
The windscreen of the car and back bumper were damaged in the crash.
After the crash the car is thought to have driven from Frankley Rd on to Carrington Rd, before driving along Baker Rd and on to Mangorei Rd towards the Junction Rd intersection.
The car and body of Mrs McCullough were found at the Meeting of the Waters reserve.
Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward, head of New Plymouth CIB, would not elaborate on why the charge had been upgraded.
"After three or four days of inquiries we have established that the appropriate charge is one of murder," Mr Coward said.
The legal definition of manslaughter is an illegal act that has caused death. Murder is an intentional or reckless act that has caused death.
Police were continuing to appeal for sightings of Kinghorn or the distinctive Commodore.
"We are trying to establish his movements between Friday morning until he was located about 2pm on Saturday," Mr Coward said.
"We also want anyone else that may have information that may assist or be relevant regarding him."
Mr Coward said police had made extensive inquiries in the Mangorei, Carrington and Frankley road areas but still wanted to speak with anybody, including joggers, cyclists, walkers or drivers, who were in the area between noon and 2pm on Saturday.
"If you were in the area, please ring us. We are trying to piece together what happened."
He said police were not looking for anyone else in connection with Mrs McCullough's death.
"We're keen to speak to any of Kinghorn's associates who might be able to shed some light on where he was on Friday and Saturday."
Anyone with any information or who was in the area is urged to contact police on 06-759 9456.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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