Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More murder in Moaville

Graeme Lay writes a postscript to his 1995 story reprinted below:

During the ensuing years, I’ve kept a close watch on what happens in Inglewood. I’ve even been back to the town recently, for a family wedding. When driving into Inglewood from New Plymouth, I was startled to see a sign on a side-road that read: “Home killing, 3 km”. It made me shudder.

And although Christchurch seems now to have overtaken Inglewood as New Zealand’s capital of unusually gruesome murders, much smaller Inglewood is still making its unique contribution.

Two homicides in particular in recent years caught my attention. The first case involved a middle-aged woman who had befriended an elderly male Inglewood pensioner. They entered into what is politely called a “relationship”. Then one day, with the motive of theft, the woman killed the old man. What struck me, after she struck him, was the murder weapon she employed. It was an iron. Not an object made of iron, as you would expect, but a steam iron, the type which is used for taking the creases out of shirts and other garments. Having reversed the usual use of this household implement by putting many creases into her victim’s head, she then stuffed his body into the boot of her car and went about writing cheques drawn against his account with reckless abandon. The body was found, and the woman tried and convicted, the presiding judge commenting on the calculated callousness of her offending.

The second case involved a young Inglewood woman who was also in a “relationship”. The couple had a two-year-old daughter. After the woman accused her partner of sexually violating the child, she verbally abused him, jumped into the family car and prepared to drive off in the direction of New Plymouth. He, after remonstrating with her over the accusation, flung himself onto the bonnet of the vehicle in an attempt to stop her. But she sped off, with him hanging on for grim death. Which ensued, after she had driven with him in that position for no less than 13 kilometres, he all the while crying out for her to stop. Finally hurled from the vehicle, the young man died of his injuries. It was subsequently established that their child had not been sexually violated. She was convicted of murder.

And so life, or in this case death, goes on in rural Taranaki in its singular way.

There may be other cases which I have missed. There were, earlier. After the first article was published in Quote Unquote, I was contacted by a man who used to be the constable in Inglewood. He upbraided me for my story. Not, as I first assumed, because he was trying to protect the reputation of the town where he had worked for some years. No, but because there had been several other Inglewood murders which I had not mentioned in the story.


bk drinkwater said...

I very much enjoy when my hometown gets publicity. Feel free to visit any time...

Stephanie Chilcott said...

this is not a comment on this post: I just think you are the one to put the boot into the latest language crime: the over-use and mis-use of the phrase 'a line in the sand'. I even read somewhere (Scoop?) a 'peg in the sand'(this one might have been a quote from Nick Smith way back in previous government). My point is that it is not a strong statement of anything, it means a line drawn in sands and we all know where that leaves us: a few puffs of wind later, the line has disappeared! OMG, now what do we do? Go for it .... stick it the man.

Stephen Stratford said...

Thank you BK. Now could you please post something on your blog? I know you have a proper job and everything, but we miss you.

And thank you Stephanie for your suggestion. You are quite right. I have never understood that expression - would have thought that King Canute had dealt to it a few centuries back, but apparently not. A peg in the sand makes sense in a Maori/rahui context, but a line? Never.