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Name Suppression Lifted On Pair Charged Over Opotiki Killing

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Tauranga, Jan 13 NZPA - Two young people charged over the death of retired Opotiki schoolteacher John Rowe in November can now be named.

Lawyers for Courtney Churchward, 17, and Blair Mahutoto, 21, did not ask to have name suppression continued at a second appearance in Tauranga Youth Court today.

Churchward, who is accused of murder, was remanded in custody until a depositions hearing in Whakatane District Court on March 23.

No bail application was made to Judge Christopher Harding by her counsel, Craig Horsley.

Tony Balme sought bail for his client, Mahutoto, who faces counts of being an accessory after the fact and conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

Judge Harding said he would look favourably upon the request if a suitably approved bail address could be finalised later today.

Mahutoto was also remanded until the March depositions, as was a 15-year-old girl charged with 78-year-old Mr Rowe's murder.

Her name is automatically suppressed by law because of her age.

Youth advocate Gene Tomlinson's application for bail with electronic monitoring was opposed by lawyer for the Crown, Duncan McWilliam.

Judge Harding said he was not prepared to grant the girl bail today because no arrangements had been made yet for on-going treatment of mental health concerns raised at the Youth Justice facility where she had spent the last three weeks.

She was being medicated and monitored there and follow-up care needed to be in place before she could be released.

The judge said that could take some time. He further remanded the 15-year-old in custody for another three weeks, after which electronic bail would be reconsidered.

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