Just a bit more homicide in the Garden City

(as dictated to Mrs Grumble)

Alf demands to know when the Sunday rags will stop being so virginally precious about a bit of murder.

A typical example is the Sunday Star-Times headline ‘House of Horrors’ shocks country.

So who determined that the country has been shocked, and how exactly did they measure the shock?

No-one bothered to ask Alf, who was far from shocked.

Yep. It’s a fascinating story, the relationship of Jason Somerville and Rebecca Chamberlain.

She was found under the floorboards of the home she shared with Somerville in Wainoni, Christchurch, just over a week ago along with their neighbour Tisha Lowry, who had been missing for almost a year.

The grisly discovery has left Chamberlain’s grief-stricken family devastated. Their daughter, they said in a statement on Friday, was struggling to get her life back on track and was making good progress and they were “proud of her and her achievements… This is a terrible tragedy for the three families involved and we feel for their loss”.

Somerville, a bespectacled and bearded man, has now been charged with two counts of murder. On Friday he was remanded in custody until November 12. Police have looked into whether Somerville may have played a role in any other unsolved crimes, but have so far made no specific connections.

But there’s nothing there about nation-wide shock.

Nor can Alf find it elsewhere in the story.

He certainly isn’t shocked because he has regarded Christchurch as a centre for fascinating murders since the Parker – Hulme Murder Case in 1954.

Pauline Parker, 16, and Juliet Hulme, 15, were found guilty that year of killing Pauline’s mother, Honora Mary Parker, with a brick in a sock. The jury rejected a plea by the defence that the girls were not guilty on the grounds of insanity.

A dossier of more recent murders in the Garden City can be found at the Emigrate to New Zealand blogsite.

Recent violent deaths in Christchurch (including 4 people under 18 years old)

* 2 women recently found buried beneath a house in Wainoni

* Mellory Manning beaten, stabbed, stangled and dumped in the Avon River

* Andre James Delamare died after being stabbed in Phillipstown

* Tala Seleni, 55, and Melissa Nina Adcock, 32, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a Linwood council flat

* Timothy Constable died from stab wounds on a Christchurch street

* 15 year old Marie Davis raped and murdered by a convicted rapist

* 16-year-old Sean Martin William Philip Finnerty-Gallagher bashed and died in Christchurch

* Deaf woman Emma Agnew, murdered and dumped in Spencer Park

* Taxi driver Abdulrahman Ikhtiari stabbed to death in central Christhchurch.

* Kerry Leigh Downey, 52, strangled and dumped on the Port Hills

* Lipine Sila deliberately drove into a crowd of partygoers, killed two young girls Hannah Rossiter (16) and Jane Young (16) and badly injured eight others

Alf was delighted to find that list of homicides at the end of an item recording the mayor’s protestations about the bad name his city is attracting and the blogger’s tart riposte.

Christchurch’s reputation as a ‘murder capital’ is being debunked by its mayor.

There were three murders in the city last month. In the most recent, a 32-year old man has been charged with the murder of his wife after two bodies were found under a house in the suburb of Wainoni. One body is believed to be that of Tisha Lowry, who has been missing for almost a year.

Mayor Bob Parker says unfortunately perception is everything but statistics show that Christchurch is actually New Zealand’s safest large city per 10,000 of population.

“The truth is, these crimes are being committed in greater numbers across New Zealand and in other similar-sized cities. So, we’re no worse. We’re a little bit better off but we still need to get better and that’s the focus of council.”

Mr Parker says he is still deeply concerned about what has been happening.

And so he should. Trying to excuse the city’s appalling record by saying other places are worse is simply an avoidance of responsibility. Will people in the city rest easier knowing that there are places worse than Christchurch and will the families and friends of the victims feel better knowing this is how their deaths are to be dismissed?

Good stuff.

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