Man charged with murder after Greymouth shooting

A scene guard outside the Marsden Road home where Hayley Williams was shot dead on Sunday...
A scene guard outside the Marsden Road home where Hayley Williams was shot dead on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Greymouth Star
The man charged with the murder of a 43-year-old Greymouth mother of three on Sunday was granted interim name suppression when he appeared in the Greymouth District Court this morning.

The man was handcuffed in the dock and surrounded by two police constables and a prison officer.

He did not enter a plea to the charge of murdering Hayley Williams at her Marsden Road home, about 4pm on October 22.

West Coast police area commander Inspector Mel Aitken told the Greymouth Star today it was too early to confirm any further details of the investigation, including where on the property Ms Williams was at the time of the shooting.

The Greymouth Star understands she was in the driveway, but police would not confirm that.

"I can confirm nobody else was injured or received any injuries other than our victim, who died," Mrs Aitken said.

Emotions ran high in court today and two people were escorted out of the courtroom after yelling obscenities when the offender appeared.

The accused's lawyer, Marcus Zintl, sought interim name suppression.

Mr Zintl told Judge Brian Callaghan that while "the horse may have bolted," with the man's name already published on websites and media publications, further publication posed "real risk" of prejudicing the trial.

The court was closed to the public while the reasons for the suppression were discussed.

The man was then remanded in custody by consent until November 10. He will appear in the High Court at Greymouth via audio visual link on that date.

Mr Zintl also asked for reports to see if the defendant was fit to stand trial and whether or not he was sane.

Yesterday, Mrs Aitken said the defendant gave himself up peacefully after he was found walking on the Old Christchurch Road, between Arahura and Kawhaka.

"It was a very peaceful resolution."

Police did confirm "a number" of children - including Ms Williams' three children - were at the house when the shooting took place but they would not say if any of them witnessed the killing.

Mrs Aitken also described it as "not a domestic-related incident".

The "phenomenal" support from the public had helped police arrest the man 23 hours after the shooting and one hour after the alleged gunman was sighted.

A vehicle had earlier been found but police declined to specify if an associate of the alleged shooter was known to be in that vehicle at the time of the shooting.

The type of firearm used and its whereabouts had also not been identified by last night.

Kawhaka resident Jason Johnston today told the Greymouth Star of a "surreal" turn of events after he spotted the man walking inland from Arahura about midday, and the "gut feeling" which led him to alert the police.

When he returned from Hokitika about 3pm he witnessed the police arresting the alleged shooter, on the Old Christchurch Road about 2km east of the marae.

When he first spotted the man walking on the road closer to the Kawhaka farming area about midday, he was dressed in wet weather gear and might have been a local farmer - except he had no vehicle.

"As I was coming into town I was humming and hahing, should I do anything?"

The man's "strange behaviour" was the decider as he had tried to hide his face.

"It was a bizarre set of circumstances. There was a guy walking in the rain and he hid his face. I had a gut feeling and I acted on it. I thought this was strange behaviour. I'd never seen the gentleman at all. Normally you'd wave and show your face."

Mr Johnston heard calls on the radio for reports of suspicious behaviour and acted upon it and went to the Hokitika police.

He could not believe his eyes about three hours later to round a curve, well past the marae, to see police on the scene.

"I saw the guy drop to his knees and put his hands in the air. The (shooting) being in Greymouth, the last thing you'd think is the (offender) is on your own street."

Mrs Aitken said the alleged shooter was "known to police".

Marsden Road residents near the scene of the shooting could expect to see the presence of police investigators over the next seven days, she said.

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