Convicted murderer's wife not allowed to move in with him

Douglas Thompson wants his wife to move into his council-owned unit but has been told she's not...
Douglas Thompson wants his wife to move into his council-owned unit but has been told she's not allowed.
A convicted double-murderer who gunned down his former partner and her new boyfriend has found love with a younger woman from overseas and is fighting to set up home with her.

Douglas Arthur Thompson’s efforts have so far been stymied by both the district council that owns his rental and the Tenancy Tribunal.

Thompson, now in his late 70s, was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Helen Johns, 43, and her new boyfriend Paul Allen, 43, in 2001.

He had followed the pair home to a rural address in Rongotea outside of Palmerston North before shooting them both. He then took Allen’s daughter’s car to Feilding police station where he handed himself in.

Thompson was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released on parole in 2015 at age 70 to a senior housing village in the Wairarapa run by the Masterton District Council.

However, Johns’ daughter was friends with another tenant in the same village, Dawn Moore, and accidentally came face to face with her mother’s killer shortly after he moved in.

"My heart jumped, I just froze," the daughter told the Wairarapa Times Age in 2015 following the incident.

"That man shot and killed my mum and she was an awesome mum, the best in the world."

The run-in prompted plans for the council to move him to another unit with council staff at the time calling the encounter "bizarre" and a "one in a million chance".

However, before those plans could be enacted Moore chose to move to a different set of council-owned flats to get away from Thompson.

Thompson has remained at the housing village since 2015 and has since married a foreign national with whom he now wants to live.

But the Masterton District Council won’t allow the woman to move into his unit because she does not meet the criteria for residents of the housing complex, and Thompson’s tenancy agreement states only one person may reside in the unit.

To qualify for a unit at the village, residents must be at least 60 years old, a New Zealand citizen, receive a benefit, have limited assets and have not owned a home in the past five years.

His wife is residing in New Zealand on a visitor’s permit. She is also younger than 60, a Tenancy Tribunal decision stated.

Thompson had turned to the tribunal to request the council’s decision be overturned.

A council representative attended the tribunal hearing and offered to move Thompson to another council-owned house where he could live with his wife.

But Thompson argued he was well-settled, his home was large enough for the two of them, and it would not create hardship for anyone if she moved in.

In response, the council said the rules were clear and it wasn’t fair to other tenants if they allowed him to break them.

Thompson submitted the council’s policy amounted to "elder abuse", was discriminatory, and breached his enjoyment of his home.

But tribunal adjudicator Kate Lash rejected the council had discriminated against the couple, pointing out Thompson’s wife was not a tenant and Thompson was of age to live in the property.

"I do not find it established that the landlord has acted in a discriminatory way against Mr Thompson’s new marital status," Lash said in her ruling, released last month.

Lash said the policy for the units had been the same since the 1950s and no one else was allowed to circumvent the criteria.

"I have considerable sympathy with Mr Thompson in coming to this decision as I understand that he merely wishes to continue residing in his home with his wife," she said.

"This is an unfortunate situation, but I do note there are options available to Mr and Mrs Thompson for other homes which may well suit them better."

 - Jeremy Wilkinson, Open Justice reporter