Merivale murderer ‘unlikely to ever be released’

Life imprisonment with a 28-year non-parole term was handed down to Paul Pounamu Tainui in the High Court at Christchurch today, for his second murder in 24 years.

Justice Cameron Mander told the 55-year-old: “You committed this murder in cold blood, exhibiting a high level of brutality and callousness.”

He noted that Tainui would be 83 years old before he could be considered for release on parole. It seemed unlikely he would ever be eligible for parole.

He also imposed an open-ended preventive detention sentence for the rape charge Tainui had admitted.

Tainui was known as Paul Russell Wilson when he was jailed for the 1994 murder of his girlfriend, 21-year-old Kimberley Jean Schroder on the West Coast. While in prison, he met David Bain and was a groomsman at Bain’s wedding.

While on parole in Christchurch murdered Merivale woman, 27-year-old life coach and spiritual teacher Nicole Marie Tuxford – who he had met professionally. They were in a group that socialised. The pair met for coffees, at a time when she told her family she was trying to help him.

Tainui lay in wait for eight hours at her Merivale home after learning that she was in a relationship with a man. When she returned home early on April 7, 2018, he confronted her, and he has admitted raping and murdering her by strangulation and cutting her throat multiple times, after tying her up.

Tainui had also pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully taking Miss Tuxford’s car after the murder, and a drink-driving offence committed in the hours before the murder.

Wilson was jailed in 1995 for the murder of Ms Schroder at Hokitika. He had tied up her male flatmate, and then confronted the woman when she arrived home. He admitted he raped her and stabbed her in the neck after she made comments about relationships with other men, and claimed a defence of provocation at his trial. Wilson was released on parole in January 2011.

Five people read victim impact statements at Tainui’s second murder sentencing. A cousin asked the judge not to leave any chance for Tainui to walk free from prison again.

Miss Tuxford’s sister Jess Tuxford read the first statement, asking Tainui to look at her while she read it. He continued to look straight at the judge.

“No I didn’t think so,” she said. “Every day is a constant reminder of the devastation you have caused. You have taken such a precious piece of our lives.”

She told of preparing Miss Tuxford’s body for her funeral. “I saw what you did to my sister – every cut and injury,” she said. “She had fought so hard for her life.”

She and her sister had shared amazing memories, and Tainui could never take those away.

She hoped the murder would haunt Tainui while he wasted away in a cell for the rest of his pathetic life.

“I can’t ever comprehend how you were ever let out of prison,” she said, a comment echoed by Miss Tuxford’s mother in another victim impact statement.

Miss Tuxford’s partner Clay Saunders told Tainui he was “a role model for bringing back the death penalty”. He said the family of his first victim had seen him for “a callous, evil, manipulative animal” but he had convinced the Parole Board that he was a role model prisoner and had been released. He had seen Miss Tuxford as “easy prey”.

Crown prosecutor Pip Currie said it was an appropriate case for a sentence of life without parole, or a life sentence with a non-parole term of 30 to 32 years, or an open-ended term of preventive detention. She quoted from government legislation saying that it sent a message that “parole is a privilege, not a right”. Tainui’s attack, in Miss Tuxford’s home, had been a “frenzied and concerted effort” to inflict fatal injuries, while he was on life parole.

While she was tied up, Miss Tuxford must have been absolutely terrified knowing Tainui’s ability to kill, she said. Tainui had expressed “hate and rage” about Miss Tuxford at a pre-sentence interview, and there was a complete lack of empathy about the pain he had caused.

Treatment had been tried. Tainui had had more than 300 one-on-one sessions with psychologists or psychiatrists. He was unable to hide his gratification about the notoriety he would gain.

Defence counsel Ruth Buddicom said it was accepted that the likely outcome was that Tainui would spend the rest of his life in prison, but she argued against a life-without-parole term, saying that a life term with a lengthy non-parole term was appropriate. Life without parole would mean Tainui could never be considered for compassionate release because of failing health.

Justice Mander said the effects of the offending had been profound, and had re-traumatised the family of his first victim, who had sent him a letter this week.

The Tuxford family could not understand how such hateful violence could be carried out against “gentle and caring Nicole”, he said. The family remembered her as a kind and happy young woman who saw the good in everyone.

“That kindness was extended to you. She sought to help you when few others would. Her life was full of promise,” said the judge.

Psychological reports indicated Tainui had a personality with “abnormal levels of jealousy and anger”.

The judge said Tainui had murdered Miss Tuxford after “distortedly perceiving her has having slighted you”. His actions had been sadistic and depraved.

The repetition of the offending showed the high risk Tainui posed to the community. He was seen as manipulative, and his personality showed traits of superficiaity, grandiosity, and deceitfulness.

He rejected Tainui’s expressions of remorse, saying it was clear he still blamed his victim.

He decided not to impose life without parole – which would have been the first sentence of that type in New Zealand – and imposed the 28-year non-parole term as part of a life sentence as well as preventive detention.