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j.YOUIMG DRIVER BEFORE COURT jo.C. TE KUITI, this day. Charged with the murder of Lois Ypres Fitzgerald at Te Kuiti on July 21, Keith Bennett (26), motor driver (Mr. King), appeared before Messrs. A. Dobson and J. Wilson, J.P.'s, at the Te Kuiti Police Court to-iay. Mr. Dobson also sat as coroner inquiring into the circumstances of the death of the young woman. Detective-Sergeant Murray, of Hamilton, conducted the case • for the prosecution.

Evidence was given by Here D'Arcy Tangihere that he was living apart from his wife and that he began keeping company with the deceased about three weeks prior to the tragedy. The young woman had previously been keeping company with the accused, whom witness had known since coming to Te Kuiti last April. Bennett had been boarding at the house of the young woman's father, Charles William Hetet, a little distance from the house where the deceased lived with her sister, Betty. On two occasions when witness was taking deceased . home they passed Bennett.

On the evening of Saturday, July 21, witness took the young woman to the pictures and, after supper at the Midland Hotel, they walked to her home about 11 o'clock. They went behind a hedge on the roadside and were there about 30 minutes when they heard a rattling of the gate. A voice called out: "Lois, come here! I want to speak to you." A man, whom witness recognised as Bennett, said he had come "to do them both in" and himself also. The young woman and witness said to him: "Don't be a fool." Took Off His Coat Witness saw that accused had a gun in his hand. The young woman told him to put it down, and witness took off his two coats to give himself more elbow room and asked Bennett to come down to where he was. Accused did not make any move to do so, but walked through the gate. Witness thought he was going home, but later heard him say he was determined to do what he had come to do. The next moment there was a report of a gun. Witness went out on to the road but could see accused. He then returned to the young woman who I was lying on the ground, rolled her over and found that she was wounded. He then ran for the doctor. Dr. Ransford de Castro, of Te Kuiti, said that at the scene of the tragedy he examined the woman, who was still alive, but very seriously injured. She was groaning, and there was a wound on the left breast such as would have been caused by a gun-shot. The woman was removed to . the Te Kuiti Hospital where she died early on Sunday morning. 1 : . Betty Esme Hetet (18), waitress, said she was employed at the same place as her sister. She had been introduced to accused by her sister in April last. At that time accused was wearing military uniform. Her sister had kept cpmpany - with accused till the end of June. She used to see him almost daily after work and he occasionally took her to the pictures. The friendship was discontinued by her sister after two : months and she began keeping company with Tangihere.

Noticed Nothing Unusual Last time witness saw accused was at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. He said he had been upset when the friendship was broken off but was getting over it. Witness did not notice anything unusual about accused. Witness went to the pictures that night with a friend ana at the interval saw her sister seated with Tangihere. Witness went to a dan'ce and was returning home at about 12.45 a.m. on Sunday. Near the Riverside Hotel Tangihere came running up and told her and her friend that her sister had been shot. She and her friend went with Tangihere and found- deceased lying on the ground near the gateway opposite their home. Her sister appeared seriously ill and was groaning. Eric James Griffiths, shop assistant, aged 18, said that he had taken deceased's sister to the pictures on July 21. He had spoken to accused on several occasions prior to the tragedy. Accused seemed mentally upset about breaking off the friendship but later seemed to get over it.

Talk of Marriage Wetere Hetet, also known as Kelly Hetet, aged 55, a three-quarter caste Maori, said he was an uncle of deceased's father. Accused had come to stay in his home in April of this y&ar.' He knew then that accused was keeping company with deceased. At different.times both accused and deceased said they intended, to get married. About two weeks before the tragedy, accused told witness that it was "all off." He seemed to take it very much to heart. Witness was with accused until 1.25 p.m. on July 21, when accused left to play football at Piopio. Witness saw him again at 5 p.m. and about 7 p.m. when they bought five gallons of beer. This • was drunk by eight or ten people, including accused, at a private house. They finished. -it before 10 p.m. and were all "very happy." Witness left at 10.15 p.m. to go to a tangi at Taumarunui. Other members of the family had already gone there, and accused-was left at home alone. He told accused he would be back on Monday. A double-barrelled' shotgun produced in Court was identified by witness , as one he had kept in the house for two years and had used it to shoot dogs. When not in use it was kept in a back ' wardrobe. There were ntf cartridges with the I gun at the time of the tragedy. Two cartridges and a cartridge case produced in Court were' not the property of witness. Accused was free to use anything in the house, but had never asked permission to borrow the gun. The father of the young woman stated that his daughter was a European, with very little Maori blood. He last saw her alive about 4.30 p.m. on July 21. (Proceeding)

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Bibliographic details

WOMAN'S DEATH, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

Word Count

WOMAN'S DEATH Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 186, 8 August 1945

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