Please attribute to Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price:
Police have acknowledged the findings of an Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report into the decision to release Paul Tainui at a checkpoint prior to the murder of Nicole Tuxford.
On the evening of 6 April 2018 Tainui was stopped at a drink drive checkpoint in central Christchurch. He was found to be over the legal alcohol limit and was summoned to appear in court to face a drink driving charge. His keys were confiscated and he was forbidden to drive for twelve hours.
After being released from the checkpoint Tainui took a taxi to Nicole’s house where he waited overnight before viciously murdering her when she returned home in the morning. Tainui was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The IPCA found the Police officer who processed and released Tainui at the checkpoint acted appropriately and in line with Police practice. During processing the officer conducted a search of the Police database and noted an alert for a murder committed by him in 1994.
However there was no information on the database to indicate Tainui was a life parolee, or that any release conditions had been breached. The IPCA found there was no basis for the officer to conclude a recall application should be made, and nothing in the law to require parolees be arrested when found to have committed an imprisonable offence.
While being processed Tainui told the officer there were two knives in his car. He provided an explanation as to why he was in possession of the knives, which the IPCA found was reasonable, and that the officer was justified in not arresting or detaining him as a consequence. The knives were not returned to Tainui and remained in the locked vehicle, with Tainui leaving the area on foot.
Nicole Tuxford’s murder was a tragedy and her family remain in our thoughts as they continue to deal with the unimaginable pain and distress caused by her loss. Our thoughts remain also with the family of Kim Schroder, who was murdered by Tainui in 1994, for the horrendous re-traumatising they faced following Nicole’s murder.
We accept the IPCA’s findings that the officer who dealt with Tainui at the drink drive checkpoint on 6 April 2018 acted appropriately and in line with Police policies, and that it was reasonable not to detain or arrest him.
As the facts of this case have shown, Tainui was on a determined path to causing harm to Nicole when he was stopped. The interaction with Police had no deterring effect on him, and the officers who dealt with him simply had no realistic way to predict what he would go on to do.
Those officers have also been deeply affected by Tainui’s despicable actions, however as this report outlines, they made appropriate decisions based on the information they had. During their interaction with him there was no indication of what Tainui would do and no reasonable requirement for them to detain him.
Since this incident Police and Corrections have worked to make improvements to support frontline officers who may come into contact with life parolees. This includes an alert on the Police database to advise an officer of relevant information about a life parolee, and further direction about how they should be dealt with, including making contact with Corrections via an Incident Line to advise of the arrest and to ascertain whether a recall application will be made.
While the IPCA have emphasised that there is no certainty Nicole’s death would have been averted if the enhanced notification system had been in place, Police and Corrections have worked hard to develop an improved process in order to protect the public and to support front-line officers, and will continue to work together to appropriately manage offenders on parole.
Issued by Police Media Centre