Home' Greymouth Star : September 17th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 5
An Auckland grandmother who beat
a 77-year-old man unconscious before
setting him on fire will spend at least the
next 15 years in prison.
The 48-year-old woman — whose name
is suppressed — previously admitted the
murder of Peter Lance Dixon, who was
found dead in his South Auckland home
after a fire in February 2012.
A packed High Court at Auckland
yesterday heard the horrifying details
of the killing, which Crown prosecutor
Warren Cathcart called “calculated and
callous in the extreme”.
throughout, was jailed for life and Justice
Rebecca Ellis imposed a minimum non-
parole period of 15 years.
Emergency ser vices were called to a fire
at Mr Dixon’s home on the morning of
February 27 and found him dead in his
The flesh was burned off his legs,
leaving only the bones exposed. His
stomach was melted open and his face
was unrecognisable, Mr Cathcart said.
The court heard how the Auckland
grandmother beat the elderly man around
the head and neck with a heavy object
before setting his legs alight.
“This is a 77-year-old man who has
been incapacitated by a blow to the head
and neck. He was vulnerable and she set
him alight,” Mr Cathcart said.
“This has been carried out by a
calculated mind that contains no pangs
of conscience.” Justice Ellis said it was
unclear whether the head injury, the fire
or both had killed the victim.
Only hours earlier, the offender had set a
tissue box alight and placed it underneath
Mr Dixon’s bed.
He woke up and put out the fire, which
the woman passed off as the actions of a
She later deactivated smoke alarms so
others would not be alerted to her actions
and waited for the fire to take hold before
she called emergency ser vices.
The judge said the woman’s actions
could be partially explained by a history
of sexual abuse and subsequent mental
health issues, however the victim was not
the perpetrator of those crimes.
The woman was also sentenced on four
counts of arson, one of attempted arson
and four charges of theft by a person in
a special relationship — amounting to
The charges stemmed from offending at
her workplace before the murder.
Police initially thought the blaze, which
was limited to the man’s bedroom, was
accidental but charges eventually came
after a “lengthy and complex” police
inquiry. The woman denied the offending
through several police inter views before
pleading guilty three weeks before her
trial was due to start.
Inspector Zane Cooper said the
brutal murder had been devastating
for the Dixon family and he hoped the
sentencing had provided them with some
“The guilty plea meant the victim’s
family did not have to go through the
process of the court trial. The conviction
and sentence handed down by the court
will hopefully provide at least some
closure for the victim’s family,” he said.
“This is a very difficult time ... the
death of Peter has been devastating to
the family.” The woman covered her face
as the judge passed sentence and sobbed
into her hands as she was led away.
The new colossal squid sliced
open at Te Papa today is even
bigger than the last one.
Researchers from AUT
University and the University of
Otago sliced open the behemoth
in a giant bathtub yesterday.
They discovered the animal was
It is the first new colossal squid
analysed at the museum in six
Scientists yesterday discovered
the eyes were 35cm across, at
least 8cm bigger than the last
one. AUT’s Dr Kat Bolstad
showed off the 350kg squid’s
light organs, one of which was
The black, sharp squid beak
proved hardest to extricate. The
animal’s enormity meant some
of its organs took hours longer
to thaw than the surface.
Eventually Dr Bolstad showed
off the animal’s rasped tongue,
parrot-like beak and tiny
oesophagus, no wider than a
human’s index finger. The alien-
looking creature’s oesophagus
passes through its donut-shaped
brain before the digestive system
continues breaking down squid
food, which probably included
The animal thawed largely to
plan and Dr Bolstad was able to
begin the examination shortly
Researchers took samples of
goo from the animal to see what
bacteria might keep the squid
company. They also hope to
see whether human impact on
ocean chemistry is affecting the
The animal was a deep red
colour but in its deep sea habitat
appeared black to most animals,
Dr Bolstad said.
Keen to preser ve the animal
for future display, Dr Bolstad
and her team took only small
samples of the monster.
It will shortly be placed in
a new chemical solution to
The animal’s tentacles were not
intact but its legs all measure
slightly over 100cm. Dr Bolstad
said its tentacles alone would
have been about 2.5m long —
50cm more than the height of
All Black lock Brodie Retallick.
The animal’s dozens of
intact suckers and hooks were
also visible for the first time.
Protective coverings called
trabeculae surround the hooks.
The squid was caught on
Sanford fishing boat San
Aspiring’s line in Antarctic
waters last summer. San
Aspiring brought the squid back
to New Zealand, where it was
kept in a freezer.
A New Zealand jihadist who has links
with al Qaeda and has taken up arms in
Syria wants to leave the war-torn country
but first needs a fresh New Zealand
passport after burning his old one.
Mohammad Daniel, also know as Abu
Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as
Mark John Taylor, says war-torn Syria
needs humanitarian aid rather than a
He claims to have been in touch with
the New Zealand government in a bid to
get a new passport.
“They don’t seem concern (sic) I’m in
Syria,” Mr Daniel wrote on Facebook
from war-ravaged Aleppo.
Yesterday, the Department of Internal
Affairs refused to confirm the contact,
saying it “does not discuss individual
passport applications for privacy reasons”.
A spokesman for New Zealand
Intelligence Community —
agency made up of the Government
Communications Security Bureau, the
Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet ’ National Assessments Bureau,
and the Security Intelligence Ser vice —
refused to comment on any specific case.
It said that, in general, fighters taking
part in or returning from any sort of
conflict zone are a “concern for many
countries, including New Zealand”.
“ We are aware of a small number of
New Zealanders who have travelled to
areas of conflict,” the spokesman said.
“ We strongly recommend that people
do not travel to these areas.”
In 2009, Mr Daniel was arrested by
Pakistan authorities while trying to
gain access to an al Qaeda and Taliban
stronghold close to the Afghanistan
border and was subsequently subjected
to travel restrictions by the New Zealand
He left New Zealand again in May
2012, and lived in Indonesia for two years
working as an English teacher.
In June this year, he entered Syria across
the Turkish border.
“I come to Syria as a Soldier for Allah,”
he told the Herald at the time.
On-line, he claims to be an “adventurer
living in Syria. I have no links to any
groups. I’m independent, living under
good care by Muslim brothers”.
He has posted photographs of himself
clutching machine-guns and boasted of
going on “patrol” and doing “guard duty”.
Earlier this year, he also proudly
displayed his burned New Zealand
passport on Facebook and declared he
was on a “one-way trip” with no intention
of returning home. Now, it appears he
has changed his mind.
He told Aotearoa Independent Media
Centre that he was planning to leave
Syria “around late October”.
He advised that while he had requested
a new passport from the New Zealand
government, he had no intention to
return to his homeland.
Asked if he had broken any laws, he told
Aotearoa Independent Media Centre:
“No, I only went there for adventure
Jihad, but along the way I realised Syria
is in a very direct need of humanity aid
and support.” Mr Daniels, who has
spent several years living in Australia,
was friends with another New Zealand
radical, Muslim Bin John. He travelled to
see Mr John in Yemen in 2009, leading
to him being recommended for travel
Mr John, along with Australian
Christopher Havard, were suspected of
links to al Qaeda splinter group AQAP,
and killed in a drone strike last November.
Julian Wilcox and Carol
Hirschfeld have been
demoted from their jobs
in a restructure process
announced to staff at the
Ser vice chief executive
Paora Maxwell briefed
his executive staff
yesterday about a
that has seen Wilcox
and Hirschfeld both big
casualties in the changes
at the station.
The changes follow a
Herald report last week
that predicted the two
broadcasters might either
be made redundant or
offered lesser roles within
A source at the
station said a number
of executive roles had
been changed to “head
of department roles” —
including Wilcox’s and
The Herald understands
a new role called head
of corporate affairs has
been created at the
station among several
other positions including
a head of programming
and production role —
that will oversee Wilcox’s
old news and current
The source said Wilcox
and Hirschfeld are able
to apply for the role but
it is likely it will go to the
station’s current general
Haunui Royal, who is
currently in Hawaii on
It is unclear whether
Wilcox and Hirschfeld,
both among the station’s
broadcasters, will stay at
Mr Maxwell, who
controversially got the
chief executive’s role in
March, said he was not
looking at making any
“radical changes in the
short term” following his
In a media statement,
Mr Maxwell said the
proposed structure was
to ensure alignment of
operations to business
strategy for increased
performance and results.
“ While three of our 180
staff would potentially
face job losses we will do
what we can to re-deploy
the affected staff into
appropriate and available
roles,” he said.
Six executive roles are
proposed in the structure,
with a number having
The proposed executive
roles are head of people,
language and culture;
head of programming
and production; head
of corporate affairs;
head of technology
and operations; head of
multi-platform; and head
of finance and admin.
Under the proposal,
three of the current
general manager roles
would be disestablished
and the incumbents
directly appointed into
roles to lead teams more
closely aligned in role
One general manager
role would become
contestable and the
remaining two general
manager roles would
remain in the proposed
structure with title
— APNZ-NZ Herald
A young Mosgiel
man has accepted
responsibility for the
death of one of his
passengers in an early
morning car crash near
Mosgiel in April.
Thomas, a 19-year-old
labourer, appeared in the
Dunedin District Court
yesterday and admitted
causing the death of
Joshua Anderson on
April 27 by driving with
a breath-alcohol level of
Mr Anderson, 19, was
sitting behind the driver
when the Honda saloon
failed to take a bend in
Riverside Road about
3am and rolled sideways
into a drain.
As it rolled, the car
struck the base of a tree,
the impact breaking the
right rear window beside
He was partly ejected
from the car, his upper
body being trapped
between the upturned
car and the side of the
drain and his legs being
pushed into the back of
the driver’s seat.
He could not be freed
and died at the scene.
Mr Thomas and the
three other young men
in the car escaped with
Police prosecutor Tim
Hambleton told the
court all five had been
drinking at a party in
Bush Road and, when
the party wound up,
decided to go for a drive.
When police spoke to
him after the crash, Mr
Thomas admitted he
had been drinking. His
He said they were “just
going for a drive’’ and,
“next thing ’’, they ended
up in the ditch.
Mr Thomas was
remanded on bail by
Judge Dominic Flatley
for possible restorative
justice and for sentence
on October 16.
Massice squid sliced for science
PICTURE: NZ Herald
The sharp beak proved the hardest part of the squid to extricate.
Mosgiel man admits
Grandma jailed for
life over grisly death
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