The mother of murdered woman Nicole Tuxford says sitting through the inquest into her daughter’s death is the hardest thing she has done.
Paul Tainui raped and murdered Tuxford in 2018, while on life parole for the 1994 murder of Kimberley Schroder.
A joint inquest into Tuxford’s death and the suspected suicide of Gary Schroder, Kimberley’s father, adjourned in Christchurch today.
Cherie Gillatt has sat with her daughter’s ashes in court for the past two weeks.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do…But she had to be there. She had to be part of it because we needed answers for her and to show [those in court] she was a person,” she said.
Through tears, she said her daughter deserves justice.
“She was amazing, beautiful, [full of] laughter, a happy go lucky girl. She just wanted to live life and help people.
“[The inquest] is not going to bring her back, but if it’s going to help someone else, it will be worth it.”
She will always be in my heart, Gillatt sobbed.
Kimberley and Gary Schroder’s family and friends watched today’s proceedings remotely.
In her evidence to the Coroner, Jenny Keogan, the Schroder family spokesperson and Kimberley’s best friend, described the moment police told her Tainui had killed again.
“I felt sick, angry, grief stricken and horrified when I found out about Nicole Tuxford’s murder. I just knew the moment I heard that she too would have died under similar circumstances to how Kimmy had all those years prior,” she said.
“More lives [had been] changed forever.”
Keogan helped clean Kimmy’s flat after her murder, scrubbing blood from the bathtub.
She said even years afterwards, it still affected her.
“It took me years to sleep with the light off at night, and even to this day I do not like to be alone in the house at night on my own…We all continue to serve the life sentence for what he did,” she wrote to the Parole Board in 2008.
Gaps in Corrections’ approach – victim advocate
Independent victim advocate Ruth Money was supporting both the Tuxford and Schroder families during the inquest.
She believed there were glaringly obvious holes in how Corrections managed high-risk offenders.
So far, Corrections’ reviews appeared to have brought about little change on the frontline, Money said.
“There are systemic issues when we manage high risk offenders. There needs to be specialist training and specialist services for that one percent. And we keep getting that wrong in New Zealand,” she said.
“That’s the bit that absolutely needs to change.”
Money hoped this inquest would be different and would help create real improvements to the system.
Coroner Elliot thanked the families today for the courage they had shown being in court each day.
He said their strength was inspiring, given their background of pain and suffering.
The inquest will resume in the New Year.