Lois Tolley murder arrest: Sobs in court as accused makes first appearance

Author
Chelsea Boyle and Melissa Nightingale - NZ Herald,
Section
Crime,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 11 September 2019, 4:37PM
Lois Tolley.
Lois Tolley.

The man accused of murdering Lois Tolley has appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court.

The 27-year-old did not enter a plea today, and was remanded with interim name suppression until his next appearance in the High Court at Wellington next month.

The Lower Hutt man also faces charges of assaulting with intent to rob, while armed with a shotgun, and a charge of entering Tolley's Ward St flat while armed with intent to commit an imprisonable offence.

People in the public gallery were tearful as the man appeared in the dock.

A duty lawyer asked for interim name suppression for the man, saying identification could risk his right to a fair trial and could put his family in danger.

People in the public gallery swore at him as he left the dock, and left the courtroom sobbing.

Outside court, Lois' aunt Yvonne Tolley thanked police for "continuing to search and finally getting some results for us".

"Hopefully this will help us for the rest of our journey, because it's been a very, very long time. None of us have got closure," she told media.

"There's no rest, it doesn't go, doesn't leave us."

She requested privacy so the family could process what had happened.

Operation commander Detective Inspector Scott Miller said it was "fantastic news" someone had been arrested.

"My message to the other three is I know their names and we will continue to pursue them actively," he said.

Mother: 'Now I'm angry

Meanwhile the mother of murdered Upper Hutt woman Lois Tolley says her emotions are "all over the place" now that someone has been arrested over the killing.

Police arrested a 27-year-old Lower Hutt man last night and charged him with murder.

Speaking from Australia, Tolley's mother, Cathrine MacDonald, told the Herald she hadn't held anger over the killing - until now.

"I can't explain it. I've never had anger, I now have anger," she said.

"I never had anybody to be angry at, but now I am."

MacDonald and her partner will fly to New Zealand and hold a press conference next week to address the charges being laid nearly three years after Tolley was murdered in her Ward St home in December 2016.

She was shot at point-blank range and stabbed in what was described as an execution-style killing after a group of people broke into her home.

MacDonald said police had kept her informed from the beginning and had let her know why it took as long as it did to lay charges.

"It's not one person or two people they were looking for, it's a few," she said.

She said she was "all over the place at the moment".

"We still miss her very, very much, she should be here with us now."

With an arrest made, Inspector Scott Miller said police would be going back to people already spoken to in this investigation.

He said the investigation team would continue to "actively pursue other suspects".

"We are pleased that this arrest will help bring some closure to Lois' family and the Upper Hutt community," Miller said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Barnett, the officer in charge of the investigation, also said he was pleased there had been an arrest.

Barnett said his team had been working continuously since Tolley's death nearly three years ago and there had been some planning go into the arrest.

Police have previously said they believed at least four people were involved in the homicide.

A group of four males were captured on CCTV camera fleeing the crime scene.

As the attackers escaped, one of them was heard swearing and yelling, "Oh my God, what have we done?"

A neighbour in the block of flats next to Tolley's found her body. She had heard Tolley screaming.

A year after Tolley's death police had said they had narrowed the suspect list to 12.

They were either directly involved in committing the murder, helped plan the attack on Tolley, or assisted the killers after the murder, police said on the first anniversary of the death.

The police investigation team had worked through more than 130 people of interest at that stage.

Tolley's mother previously told the Herald she had no doubt her daughter's killers would be caught.

She described her daughter as a beautiful, caring person who was "very much loved by so many".

"We miss Lois so much, this has devastated our family and her friends, they stole her future from her and all of us."

A memorial for Lois Tolley was held in Harcourt Park on October 10, 2017. Photo / Supplied
A memorial for Lois Tolley was held in Harcourt Park on October 10, 2017. Photo / Supplied

Tolley's family and friends commemorated her life 10 months after the murder by releasing 100 balloons in an Upper Hutt park.

Upper Hutt's mayor Wayne Guppy told Newstalk ZB the murder had a big impact on the community and the arrest brought closure to the family and residents.

"Until the offenders are apprehended, there's always something in the back of people's minds that there are these lowlifes that wander the streets of the country and there's no place for them."

He said the arrest was a testament to the New Zealand Police's patience and professionalism.

"It sends out the message that no matter how long it takes they will get you," Guppy said.

"So for any criminal out there, particularly in this absolutely horrendous crime, you're not safe because they're going to get you."

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