Hearing set over killing of farm worker

The two people charged with the murder of former Waikato man William John Stevenson appeared in an Australian court via video link yesterday.

Danielle Antionelle Kerr, 36, of Kerang, in Australia's northern Victoria, and Darren Lewis, 46, of Wellsford, near Bendigo, northwest of Melbourne, were remanded in custody to reappear in the Bendigo Magistrates Court on August 19 for a four-day committal hearing. The proceedings are also expected to include a video link to New Zealand.

Kerr is facing one charge of murder and one charge of being an accessory to murder. Lewis is facing one count of murder. Stevenson, 47, was last seen on Christmas Day, leaving a house near where his burnt-out vehicle was found.

He was reported missing by his boss after not showing up for work two days later. A police officer located Stevenson's burnt-out car on January 1.

Stevenson, 50, was a long-time Waikato resident but moved to Kerang in 2012. In January, the Waikato Times talked to Stevenson's Morrinsville-based sister-in-law, Tracey Stevenson. She said her brother-in-law lived in and around the Morrinsville area until he went to Australia. He had worked a succession of jobs but spent most of his working life farming. Tracey Stevenson described him as a "hard-working, honest, trustworthy, good guy" who did not deserve to have his life taken away.

An Australian detective visited Morrinsville as part of the investigation earlier this year.

Hazeldene's Chickens farming manager, Karl Lawson, earlier this year told the Bendigo Advertiser William Stevenson had worked as a casual for the company since November 25 last year.

Lawson said Stevenson was a hard worker and well liked. He said Stevenson left the farm at 2.30pm on Christmas Day and staff had become worried when he failed to return on December 27. 

Waikato Times