Honeymoon killer could be out next year

Rodney Stuart Fallowfield. Photo: Luisa Girao
Rodney Stuart Fallowfield. Photo: Luisa Girao
A Balclutha man found guilty of manslaughter after killing his wife on their belated honeymoon could be out of jail next year after serving half his sentence.

Rodney Stuart Fallowfield appeared before Justice Jan-Marie Doogue today in the High Court at Invercargill and was jailed for four years and three months.

The 53-year-old was charged with murdering Shirley Alaina Reedy at a Te Anau motel on May 15,  2020.

However, after a trial in July this year, the jury reached an 11 to one majority verdict that he was not guilty of murder - instead they found him guilty of manslaughter.

Justice Doogue said Fallowfield must serve a minimum of 50% of his sentence, which meant he could apply for bail by mid-2022, as he had already served 17 months.

The couple travelled to Te Anau to celebrate a belated honeymoon after marrying in  April 2019.

Both the Crown and the defence accepted that the victim was killed in the hotel room by Fallowfield, but they disputed the intent.

The Crown’s case was Fallowfield strangled her as he wanted his wife to be quiet when she threatened him with a rape allegation, while defence said he “snapped” but did not have the intention to do so.

Ms Reedy’s family was present at court today and their distraught at the outcome was visible.

Before court, White Ribbon ambassador and family supporter Jamie Addison performed a whakawātea which he explained was a ceremony to bring closure to the family.

Reading her victim impact statement in court, sister Roxanne Reedy said the loss had left a huge hole in their lives.

‘‘[We are] wondering why or what did she do to deserve this. To die at the hands of another person, someone she calls husband.’’

The way Fallowfield acted and the comments he made to the police that he had ‘‘treated her as queen’’
or that he had snapped did not made sense, Roxanne Reedy told the court.

‘‘Why was she yelling rape, when half and hour or so before there was a photo posted on Facebook of you two happily celebrating your wedding anniversary? It doesn’t make sense.

‘‘If she really was your queen, why did that happen? And why didn’t you call for medical help?’’

Another six family members and friends read emotional victim impact statements and described Ms Reedy as kind, with a gold heart and cherished by the family.

Personal and treasured belongings of Ms Reedy's, including a childhood toy and a newspaper, were placed in a court box during the sentencing.

Justice Doogue acknowledged the pain and loss of the family and read a message to them in te reo. She also spoke about the strength and love the family had for Ms Reedy.

‘‘That connection will always endure and so will your responsibility for their pain,’’ she told Fallowfield.

Justice Doogue accepted that the court process and sentencing would never restore or heal what had been taken from the family.

However, she said she had to impose a sentence considering other manslaughter cases in the court system, as well as Fallowfield’s mitigations factors.

Among these was the hardship he faced throughout his life, which included parental negligence and sexual abuse in childhood.

His early admission of the killing, his remorse and willingness to engage in the restorative justice with Ms Reedy’s family, as well as undertaking treatment while in jail, were also highlighted.

Justice Doogue set a starting point of seven years and nine months of imprisonment, but allowed a 44% discount, giving a final sentence of four years and three months.

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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