NZ van murder accused’s Qld link
The alleged murderer of Victorian tourist Sean McKinnon has been discovered to be the son of a Cairns salesman.
The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has refused to comment when contacted by News Corp Australia about his 23-year-old son's alleged crimes.
It is understood father and son have not been close or had much contact in recent years.
But just five weeks ago, the alleged killer posted on his father's Facebook page a message saying "could you imagine someone doing this to there (sic) own son.
"A father can't choose when to be in there sons life when you don't have the wright to say your opinion on rumours you have heard you were the gutless one who left". (Sic)
It is understood the parents of the alleged killer separated some time ago.
His mother and sister live in Te Ahora, New Zealand, and his father (who is originally from Rockhampton, according to his social media accounts) now lives in Cairns.
The father is well known in Cairns for his community work and for helping to raise funds for children's charities.
His older sister is in theatre production and has previously put up social media posts in the wake of the Christchurch massacre abhorring the violence. She said in one post people should not make excuses for the perpetrator.
"This was a white man committing a disgusting act or terror" she wrote.
The alleged murderer has been charged with four offences, the murder of Mr McKinnon, threatening to kill his Canadian fiancee Bianca Buckley, aggravated robbery and causing grievous bodily harm to Mr McKinnon and driving while disqualified. Police are still hunting for the murder weapon.
The alleged killer, originally from Te Aroha south of Auckland, appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Saturday and was remanded in custody to appear in the High Court on August 27 with his name and identifying details suppressed.
Mr McKinnon and Ms Buckley had been asleep in their hired camper van in a remote car park south of Auckland, when they were woken by the man asking for help.
A local resident who helped Ms Buckley after she escaped told the media the man had said he wanted their van to get back to the town of Hamilton.
The resident said the man had allegedly smashed the window of the van with the butt of his gun and put the gun through the window and shot Mr McKinnon twice.
He then pushed Ms Buckley out of the van allowing her to take some clothes and telling her he would not kill her.
She hid until the gunman had driven off and then ran for her life to residents, about two kilometres away.
New Zealand police launched a massive manhunt for the gunman and at 11pm on Friday night armed officers surrounded an empty farm workers' cabin in Tauhei, a rural area outside the city of Hamilton.
The police had been alerted by residents in the area who had seen a man walking strangely and attempting to hitchhike.
Nicki Quinn who runs the Morrinsville Community Facebook page said her partner and another couple of friends were about to call police when the man approached them and said he was trying to find his brother's farm.
They said he was acting weird and did not seem to know the address. While he was talking with them, he was fiddling with something under his jacket.
Police found him some hours later hiding in the cabin and arrested him.
Mr McKinnon's grieving siblings, Emmeline, Mary and Lachlan are in Hamilton waiting for Mr McKinnon's body to be released so they can take him home and bury him in the town where he was born.
Mr McKinnon was in New Zealand on a surfing holiday with Ms Buckley who was working in Auckland as a midwife.
He had been working as a carpenter at Stephen Little Construction in Hobart, Tasmania.
Hutchinson Builders site manager Mark Mackney told the media his workers on site were sad.
"He was an extremely likeable man and will be surely missed by his workmates here in Tasmania.
"We will inform the full site on Monday morning of this sad loss and pay our respect with a minute's silence."
Meanwhile, a young mother has recalled the chilling moment the suspect in the campervan killing apparently tried to carjack her on Friday afternoon.
The woman, Narissa Taylor, told 7News that she knew about what had happened nearby but didn't think anything of it when she saw the hitchhiker.
"(But) when he started to be quite forceful and tried to get into my car, I (thought) 'no, this is dodgy I need to get out of here'," she said.
The man also approached another car at a local school.