A West Coast man has admitted the shooting murder of a woman in Greymouth on October 22, at an unexpected appearance in the High Court at Christchurch.
George Sean Warren, 45, pleaded guilty to the murder of the 43-year-old woman, whose name remains suppressed.
Justice Gerald Nation remanded Warren in custody for sentencing in Greymouth on June 8.
He asked for a pre-sentence report on Warren and a victim impact statement from the woman’s family.
No family members or supporters were present in court to hear Warren admit the charge at an arraignment hearing where Justice Nation granted permission for him to vacate his previous not guilty plea.
Two other men still face charges of concealing evidence of the murder. To protect fair trial rights, Justice Nation suppressed the Crown’s summary of facts. He said it would be read out in court at the sentencing.
According to reports at the time, the incident took place at a Greymouth house just after 4pm on October 22, when witnesses said they heard a loud bang before a car sped away.
After the victim’s body was found, police began a day-long manhunt for Warren who was caught “peacefully” about 3pm the next day when police said they found him on Old Christchurch Road, near Arahura Marae, just north of Hokitika.
The police said public sightings had helped to locate Warren.
Police said the victim’s children were present at the time of the shooting.
Warren was granted interim name suppression when he appeared in the Greymouth District Court in October, but the order lapsed when he appeared in the High Court in Christchurch on November 10 and entered his not guilty plea.
The case has been going through pre-trial sessions since then and was heading for a session on June 1 when the Crown was going to argue that the cases against all three men should be joined into one trial.
That session may still go ahead, but without Warren who will be sentenced a week later.