Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Up next
Listen live on

Angela Blackmoore cold case: Man allegedly offered pair $10k for 'murder'

Sam Sherwood,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Nov 2023, 3:52PM
Angela Blackmoore. Photo / Supplied
Angela Blackmoore. Photo / Supplied

Angela Blackmoore cold case: Man allegedly offered pair $10k for 'murder'

Sam Sherwood,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Nov 2023, 3:52PM

A debt collector allegedly offered $10,000 for two people to “brutally” murder a Christchurch mother to free up a property deal, a court has heard.

However, his defence argue he had no motive to kill her, would not gain from having her killed, and had no power to order a killing.

Former debt collector David Hawken, 50, and Rebecca Wright-Meldrum, 51, had denied murdering Angela Blackmoore on August 17, 1995, and were standing trial at the High Court in Christchurch in May when the trial was abandoned in its second week.

On Monday, a second trial began before Justice Rachel Dunningham and a jury of eight women and four men. It is expected to last up to five weeks.

Hawken and Wright-Meldrum entered not-guilty pleas to the charge on Monday morning.

Crown prosecutor Mitchell McClenaghan then outlined the prosecution’s case in his opening address to the jury.

Angela Blackmoore was stabbed to death in her Christchurch home in 1995.

Angela Blackmoore was stabbed to death in her Christchurch home in 1995.

“Angela Blackmoore was brutally murdered in the kitchen of her house,” he began.

Blackmoore, 21, was about nine weeks pregnant and her 2-year-old son was asleep. Her partner Laurie Anderson was at work and their flatmate was out of town.

She was struck with a bat and stabbed with a knife, suffering 39 stab wounds to her head, neck, chest, abdomen and limbs.

Despite a “massive police investigation” dubbed Operation Vancouver, no one was arrested for 25 years.

In 2019, following up on new information, police arrested three people: Jeremy Crinis James Powell, David Peter Hawken and Rebecca Elizabeth Jane Wright-Meldrum.

In his interview with police, Powell admitted murdering Blackmoore and alleged he carried out the killing on instruction by Hawken. He said Wright-Meldrum accompanied him to Blackmoore’s home and used her friendship with the victim to gain entry into the house.

Powell earlier pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced, McClenaghan said.

Blackmoore and Wright-Meldrum met sometime in the early 1990s. They lived together and worked in the adult entertainment industry, becoming close friends, and this developed into a sexual relationship.

In mid-1992 Blackmoore moved into a property with William Blackmoore. Angela and William then began a relationship, with Angela Blackmoore falling pregnant and the couple marrying in 1993.

The marriage lasted about 16 months, coming to an end in August 1994.

David Peter Hawken (left) and Rebecca Elizabeth Jane Wright-Meldrum (right) are charged with murdering Angela Blackmoore on August 17, 1995.

David Peter Hawken (left) and Rebecca Elizabeth Jane Wright-Meldrum (right) are charged with murdering Angela Blackmoore on August 17, 1995.

They had two properties - an empty section on Ferry Rd and a home on Cashel St where they lived.

Following their breakup, she moved out and took their son. The pair soon began arguing about custody of their son and what would happen to the properties.

They both engaged lawyers and the mortgage was not being paid and fell into arrears.

Hawken eventually moved into the Cashel St address. Hawken was working as a debt collector associated with the Templars Motorcycle Club. He began running his debt-collecting business from the house.

McClenaghan alleged Hawken had an eye on financial benefits from the two properties, wanting to use equity to secure loans for future business ventures.

At the time he was also in talks with property developers to buy a large piece of land in Redcliffs with the idea of setting up a multimillion-dollar development.

Several months after breaking up with William Blackmoore, Angela began dating Laurie Anderson.

Anderson was a “welcome change”, McClenaghan said.

“He offered stability, a way out of a more troubled lifestyle.”

Soon after they began dating, Angela Blackmoore moved into Anderson’s Vancouver Cres home.

In April 1995 the mortgages were still not being paid, and the bank began chasing William Blackmoore for arrears with the threat of a mortgagee sale.

Hawken began helping William Blackmoore and became his power of attorney, allowing him to make inquiries and decisions on his behalf.

David Peter Hawken was working as a debt collector associated with the Templars Motorcycle Club. Photo / George Heard

David Peter Hawken was working as a debt collector associated with the Templars Motorcycle Club. Photo / George Heard

Hawken began engaging with the bank regarding the mortgage and said they would sell the property on Ferry Rd to sort arrears and debt.

He claimed he was expecting a large ACC payout for a back injury and said he intended to take over the mortgage from Angela Blackmoore with William Blackmoore.

However, Hawken was “heavily in debt” and on a sickness benefit, was being pursued for unpaid rent and had received notification from ACC that his claim for his back injury had been declined.

McClenaghan alleged Hawken then hatched a plan whereby Blackmoore was removed from having any control of the property and he would take over her share.

“He knew that with Ms Blackmoore dead his friend William Blackmoore would be sole owner of matrimonial property.”

Not wanting to “dirty his hands”, Hawken allegedly organised to have Blackmoore killed and spoke to Wright-Meldrum and her boyfriend Powell.

He offered them $10,000 to murder Blackmoore.

A couple of weeks before the murder, Wright-Meldrum and Powell allegedly parked outside the Vancouver Cres residence, with the intention of going in and doing what Hawken had asked.

However, Powell got cold feet and decided he could not do it. Hawken was “less than impressed”, McClenaghan said, alleging he threatened to kill them both and their families if they did not do it.

Powell took the threat seriously, alleging Hawken had boasted to him about being responsible for several unsolved murders.

Blackmoore was a “very anxious, security-conscious person, who did not like being left alone. She was pedantic about the door being locked and was unlikely to answer the door to anyone she didn’t know,” McClenaghan said.

On the evening of August 17, 1995, Anderson departed about 7.35pm to go to work. It was the first night Angela Blackmoore had been left alone in the house.

After he left, Blackmoore called Anderson’s mum about 8pm before calling her own mum and then ordering a pizza.

About 8.30pm she was on the phone to her mum again while watching television. The pizza was delivered about 8.50pm, with Blackmoore paying by cheque.

Anderson’s mum waited for Blackmoore to call her back, but she never did. She tried calling her at 9.44pm and received no answer.

The Crown alleges that sometime between 8.50pm and 9.45pm, Wright-Meldrum and Powell went into the house.

McClenaghan said Powell was armed with a bat and a large knife, which he hid in a trenchcoat. Blackmoore welcomed them in and offered a coffee.

Once inside the kitchen, Powell alleges Wright-Meldrum instructed him to attack Blackmoore.

“He did so and struck Blackmoore numerous times about the head with the bat and stabbed her repeatedly with the knife.”

After the killing, Wright-Meldrum allegedly cleaned down some of the surfaces and the pair left.

Anderson returned home about 11.20pm. Once inside he went into the bedroom, took his shoes and socks off, and heard the TV in the living room.

He went into the living room, grabbed the last piece of pizza, and walked into the kitchen where he saw Blackmoore on the floor and called the police.

“He shook her to get a response and there was nothing.”

Emergency services arrived shortly afterward and she was pronounced dead. Blackmoore’s son was in his bedroom unharmed.

After the killing, the Crown alleges Wright-Meldrum and Powell set about disposing of evidence by burying the knife and bat.

Hawken was spoken to by police twice in 1995. During the first interview, he confirmed he was living at Cashel St, and knew about the custody and property issues.

He said he did not know who would want to harm her.

Wright-Meldrum told police she had not seen Blackmoore for about two and a half months prior to the murder.

McClenaghan said neither Wright-Meldrum nor Powell received the money they were allegedly offered for the killing.

In Wright-Meldrum’s interview with police in October 2019, she said she had trouble remembering things, and claimed not to know anything about Blackmoore’s murder.

When Hawken was interviewed by police in Wānaka, he claimed he did not know Wright-Meldrum very well.

He denied telling Powell and Wright-Meldrum to kill Blackmoore.

In intercepted calls, Wright-Meldrum told one person after her interview with police that she was “going down for it”. She talked about going to prison and not coming out.

In one call she discussed whether Powell would get bail. “He’s not safe because he’s opened his big mouth,” she said.

In another, she said, “the case is over for me, I’m going to take down as many f****** down with me as possible”.

In some of his intercepted calls, Hawken expressed concern about police opening up the investigation and pointing the finger at him, McClenaghan told the court. He also made comments about knowing the truth and having more information.

Hawken’s defence counsel Anne Stevens KC told the jury in her opening remarks that Hawken did not have any involvement in Blackmoore’s murder.

“The defence case is that David Hawken had no motive to kill Angela Blackmoore and he had nothing to gain from killing her and he had no power to order the killing.”

Hawken had reached an agreement with Angela Blackmoore to authorise sale of the Ferry Rd property, she said. His interests lay in the sale of Ferry Rd to reduce the risk of a mortgagee sale of the house in lived in.

“Angela Blackmoore’s death was totally at odds with David Hawken’s aim to retain the Cashel St property and solve his friend William Blackmoore’s financial predicament.”

The defence would argue that Hawken had no hold over Powell, with no way to make him do anything let alone commit a brutal murder. He also had no credible means to offer $10,000.

Powell murdered Blackmoore for his own satisfaction, Stevens argued saying he “enjoys violence” and was depraved.

“Powell masterminded and then executed Angela Blackmoore’s murder in the most violent and extreme manner possible.”

Wright-Meldrum’s lawyer Stephanie Grieve KC asked the jury to keep an open mind until they had heard all of the evidence.

“Focus on whether the Crown has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Powell is telling the truth and that she was there with him. Is his innocence credible and reliable or is he lying about her involvement.”

The trial continues.

Sam Sherwood is a Christchurch-based reporter who covers crime. He is a senior journalist who joined the Herald in 2022, and has worked as a journalist for 10 years.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you