6 Aug 2015

Blessie's family relieved 'evil' killer jailed

6:21 pm on 6 August 2015

Tony Douglas Robertson bowed his head below the dock as a High Court judge described his actions as bestial.

Blessie Gotingco murder trial *****(NAME SUPPRESSION. OK TO USE IMAGE ON JUDGE'S RULING)*******

Tony Douglas Robertson (file) Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Despite being GPS-monitored and on a curfew, Robertson was still able to intentionally drive his car into North Shore mother-of-three Blessie Gotingco as she walked home from the bus stop.

He then bundled her into the back seat of his car, and drove her home to his garage where he raped, stabbed and strangled her before dumping her body in bush behind a cemetery.

Justice Brewer today sentenced him to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 24 years. Robertson has also been sentenced to preventive detention for rape, which means that he will only be released when he is no longer considered a risk to the community.

Family friend Alan Wharerau outside court after the sentencing.

Alan Wharerau with Mrs Gotingco's family outside court, after sentencing. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Gotingco family friend Alan Wharerau read a victim impact statement on behalf of husband Antonio, who described her as his soulmate and friend of 40 years.

"Our lives are forever changed and we cannot return to that time when we enjoyed every day, sharing our full and loving lives together.

"My grief is such that my very will to live is in jeopardy, knowing this aching void in my heart will never be filled with happiness again."

He said each day seems to gets harder and he thinks of his wife every day.

"No punishment can compare to what he has done to my wife, to my family, to me. Blessie was the life of our home, of our lives and now we live in darkness."

Blessie Gotingco's husband, Antonio, outside court after the guilty verdicts.

Antonio Gotingco, pictured outside the High Court in Auckland in May. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Blessie and Antonio's eldest son, John Gotingco, told the court that his mother's death could have been prevented.

"If it took my mother's passing to serve as a catalyst for change then let it be done. I hope that my mother's passing is not in vain and she doesn't end up as just another statistic."

He said there were no winners in the case, just shattered lives and the family have taken no solace in the legal process.

Blessie Gotingco's sister in law Aurora Norton, whose victim impact statement was read to court this morning.

Blessie Gotingco's sister-in-law Aurora Norton, whose victim impact statement was also read to court this morning. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Crown prosecutor Mike Walker said the victim impact statements would echo in the court room forever.

Mr Walker reminded the court it was not the first time that the Crown had asked for preventive detention.

He said Robertson was still in denial of his offending and nothing had changed.

Robertson's lawyer Chris Wilkinson-Smith said Robertson would have plenty of time to think about his offending and opposed preventive detention.

Justice Brewer told Robertson that no prison sentence he imposed could compensate the Gotingco family for what he had done.

"Only time and their love for each other will achieve any healing for the family."

Justice Brewer also took into account Robertson's appalling criminal record, which includes abducting a child for sex.

Robertson served an eight-year sentence for that offending and had only been out of prison for six months when he attacked Mrs Gotingco, by running her down in his car.

"I place particular weight on the fact that the rape was of a severely injured woman who must have been suffering greatly. It was a bestial action and it was done with the intention that your victim would not survive."

'Blessie's death must not be in vain'

Outside court, Mr Wharerau told waiting reporters that Blessie's death was preventable because high-risk offenders were not adequately monitored.

He also referred to an independent inquiry into how Corrections managed the release of Robertson.

"There are other Robertsons living within our communities and the family is hopeful that the independent review's scope will ensure the monitoring capabilities and processes of the Corrections Department are reviewed and corrected urgently."

He said he hoped Robertson would never be able to walk the streets again.

National MP and former Crown prosecutor Simon Bridges, who prosecuted Robertson in 2006, said he was one of the country's worst offenders.

Mr Bridges described the earlier prosecution as a haunting experience.

He said Robertson was a cold and angry man and his yelling and swearing in the witness box led him to call for extra security, something he had never had to do in any other case.

Mr Wilkinson-Smith said Robertson still maintained parts of his crimes were accidental and he had indicated he wanted to appeal his conviction and sentence.

"He hasn't filed a notice of appeal yet but he did say some time ago that that's what his intention was. He's got 28 days but I told him perhaps we can look at that in a couple of weeks' time and he can have a bit of time to reflect and see what he wants to do."

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