A murderer’s mother will be given $18,000 for a Range Rover her son used on the day of the killing after it was seized by police and sold - despite belonging to her.
Ownership of the car was contested by Desmond Lawrence Bourne’s mother, who bought the car and let him drive it, and his girlfriend, who claimed he gave it to her and it was now registered in her name.
Bourne, 48, is serving a life sentence with a minimum 12-year period of no parole after a jury found him guilty in August of murdering Zane Smith over resentment related to their drug dealing.
Desmond Lawrence Bourne is now serving a life sentence in prison and will not be eligible for parole for at least 12 years. Photo / NZ Police
Bourne shot Smith, 37, in the cab of Smith’s SUV during a drug deal at an intersection near Wellsford in November 2020.
Bourne had travelled to the meet-up in the Range Rover. He took a high-calibre semi-automatic firearm from under the Range Rover’s rear passenger seat to shoot Smith, and then drove away in the vehicle.
After the murder, police seized the Range Rover and the Crown applied for a forfeiture and sale order under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009. The Act allows the confiscation of assets gained by crime or used in the commission of a crime.
The car was sold and $18,310 was placed in the trust fund of the Official Assignee, who looks after the proceeds of assets seized until a court orders forfeiture to the Crown.
However, Justice Timothy Brewer, who had presided over Bourne’s trial and sentencing, remembered the vehicle had been previously registered by Bourne’s mother, Pamela Bourne, who told the trial it belonged to her.
It was later re-registered in the name of Bourne’s girlfriend, Serene Tilsley, who was acquitted of being an accessory after the fact of murder.
The judge invited both women to make an application to the High Court seeking “relief” from any forfeiture order in respect of the vehicle.
Pamela Bourne provided evidence that she bought the Range Rover from a dealer for $32,500, and it was registered in her name on November 7, 2020, although Desmond Bourne drove it.
A week after she bought it, on November 14, 2020, Pamela Bourne evicted her son and Tilsley from her house.
They drove away in the Range Rover, and Desmond Bourne later transferred the registration into Tilsley’s name.
Tilsley re-registered the vehicle in her name in February 2021 - something Pamela Bourne said she did not have any right to do.
Pamela Bourne said she paid for the car’s insurance. Both she and her son had paid for repairs and maintenance.
Tilsley claimed Desmond Bourne had given her the car as a gift, and she had received infringement notices connected with it.
The judge sided with the mother, deciding that Tilsley did not have an interest in the Range Rover.
“On the balance of probabilities, I find that Mrs Bourne bought the Range Rover for her son to use, but not as a gift,” Justice Brewer said.
“On the balance of probabilities, I find that Mr Bourne did not gift her [Tilsley] the vehicle.
“In my view, having quarrelled with Mrs Bourne on November 14, 2020 and been evicted by her, Mr Bourne registered the Range Rover in Ms Tilsley’s name because he feared his mother would claim it.
“But, if I am wrong in this, Mr Bourne did not own the vehicle and could not gift it.”
Justice Brewer said in his decision that Pamela Bourne was an “innocent party” and the Range Rover was hers. She had a 100 per cent interest in it.
“The fact that her son used it to transport a weapon [unbeknownst to her], which he later used to murder a man, should not deprive Mrs Bourne of her asset,” the judge said.
Justice Brewer ordered the money being held by the Official Assignee be handed over to Pamela Bourne.
Online car sites show the Range Rover has now been given a new registration, with a different number plate.
Zane Smith was shot dead by Desmond Bourne.
Ric Stevens spent many years working for the former New Zealand Press Association news agency, including as a political reporter at Parliament, before holding senior positions at various daily newspapers. He joined NZME’s Open Justice team in 2022 and is based in Hawke’s Bay. His writing in the crime and justice sphere is informed by four years of front-line experience as a probation officer.
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you