Relief for parents as charge laid

Family say Polly Riddell (40) was the happiest she had been when she died in October 2018. PHOTO:...
Family say Polly Riddell (40) was the happiest she had been when she died in October 2018. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A former judge is celebrating the "bittersweet" news that after waiting three years, a man has been charged in relation to the death of her daughter.

Rosemary Riddell and her husband Mike, Central Otago residents since her retirement from the bench, have been searching for answers since 40-year-old Polly’s death in Dunedin in October 2018.

Police last night confirmed an arrest had been made.

"Police can confirm that a man has been summonsed to appear in the Dunedin District Court in December in relation to the death of Polly Anna Riddell," a police spokeswoman said.

"He will be appearing on a charge relating to manslaughter.

"Now the matter is before the court, police will not be making any further comment."

The police decision to proceed with a prosecution after such a lengthy investigation was "a huge relief", Mr Riddell said.

"[It’s] completely bittersweet but we’ve lived for the last three years with the knowledge some people thought it was suicide, some thought a drug overdose, some thought she was an addict so that’s just what happens," Mrs Riddell said.

"We’ve been holding true to the knowledge it wasn’t any of those things."

While the specifics of the case could not be detailed, she said the case would be legally "interesting".

And knowing the justice system, the family was prepared for a possibly protracted progression through court.

"We’ve waited three years, so if it takes another three years to get to trial, we’ll be there," she said.

"It’s taken a long time for the police and Crown to put a case together but they have and they’ve talked to us about it and set out what they believe is the basis for the charge. It absolutely accords with what we think has happened."

The couple acknowledged their daughter had struggled with drug addiction after experiencing repeated sexual-abuse ordeals, but Mr Riddell said 2018 was the happiest and most stable time of her life.

Polly Riddell had recently returned from a trip to Europe where she enjoyed spending time with her brother, had sold a property in Brighton and was building a house beside her parents’ home in Ida Valley.

"She came back, ready to turn 40 and five weeks later she was dead," her mother said.

"It was incomprehensible, really, and it still is.

"In one sense, time hasn’t dimmed that sense of incredulity, that someone so stroppy and loud and bolshy is no longer here. It just seems weird and wrong."

Police confirmed a man had been summonsed to appear in court in December but said it would be inappropriate to comment further.



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