Police confident of justice for homicide victim Jess Boyce

The chair she used sits empty, laughter from celebrations past hang in the air.

Two Christmases have past, two birthdays she wasn’t there for and countless special moments missed.

As the second anniversary of her disappearance draws closer, the Blenheim detective in charge of the case says there is more than one suspect.

Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan says they know the people who are responsible for her disappearance.

“A small number of people still need to be spoken to and plans are in place to do this soon. We are in negotiation to get parties to the table.

“Fairly early on after Jess disappeared a group of people were identified as persons of interest.

‘We had enough information to know that there were other people involved and it became a homicide investigation.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Ciaran Sloan believes there will ultimately be justice for Jessica Boyce. Main photo: Paula Hulburt.

Jessica, known as Jess, was last seen on 19 March 2019, her disappearance sparking nationwide search for those responsible.

For the experienced detective, Jess’s case is one that’s always on his mind.

At one point the investigating team was one of the largest pulled together in Marlborough. A key core remains dedicated to the case.

Detective Senior Sergeant Sloan is determined to find closure for Jess’s family and a chance for them to say goodbye properly.
People will talk, he says.

“I believe that at some stage in the future, somebody, somewhere will be sitting in a police cell on a completely unrelated matter and want to talk to us.

“They will be looking to save their own skin.

“We are making progress and we do believe we know who was involved in her disappearance.

“The investigation team has travelled from Northland to Canterbury interviewing witnesses and people of interest to the inquiry.
“Many of these people were living in Marlborough at the time Jessica went missing but have now moved out of the area for a number of reasons.

Jess’s uncle and family spokesman, Brent Boyce hopes police will find justice for Jess.

Jessica Boyce was 27 years old when she disappeared. Photo: File

“It will bring no real comfort to those who were close to Jess, but perhaps some closure. We would like to thank everyone for their continued support and kindness over these very trying last two years.

“Jess’s family and friends will need this support more than ever as the details of the investigation are exposed in the coming months,” he says.

Jess was last seen near Renwick, Marlborough, in a red ute.

The vehicle was found three days later in the Mount Richmond Forest Park, seemingly abandoned. Jess’ purse and mobile phone minus its sim card were found inside.

Police believe the ute was deliberately dumped in a bid to mislead police.

Jess’s disappearance officially became a homicide case in October 2019.

Last week, Brent paid tribute to investigating officers. The police maintain a regular line of communication with the family, he says.

“We are beholden to the police for the diligence of their ongoing efforts, and for their empathy with helping us understand – they have our utmost respect.”

Several overseas enquiries have also been made in relation to forensic evidence, and investigators are awaiting final results.

Brent says the family continue to suffer and spending time together remembering her helps bring some comfort. Her disappearance has been a rollercoaster of emotions for them all.

“In this time, we have experienced all the highs and lows of hope and despair.

“From what was initially considered a harmless wandering off, to become an unexplained disappearance, to finally a homicide.

Not only have the perpetrators of this harmed Jess, they have also harmed her family and her friends by their misdeeds.

“As a family, we gather regularly, and Jess is never far from our thoughts and hearts.

Jessica Boyce was a bubbly and devoted friend. Photo: File

“In our Jess’s memory – we would ask that you also look after yourselves and your families; and be caring and resolute as the investigation unfolds.”

Police encourage anyone who has any information at all which may assist to contact Police on 105 and quote file number 190322/7217.
Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A bank-transaction gone wrong saw Cathy Hawker lose her life savings. Photo: Emma Filipov-Bell.

Caravan cash theft accused caught

A stranger who allegedly refused to return a Canvastown woman’s life savings she received by mistake has been caught by police.

The woman, who lives in the North Island, was caught by police investigating claims she had taken $8000 that was not hers.

Cathy Hawker spent years saving $8000 to buy a campervan.

But a mistake in making the payment means she has lost all her hard-earned money to the woman who then allegedly refused to return the ill-gotten gains.

The service station assistant wants to warn others that a simple mistake could cost them dearly.

“I wanted to have some adventure,” she says. “Go away. Have a bit of fun in life.

“It was something for me.”

Cathy says she transferred $8000 to her friend Johnny who she was buying the caravan from.

But when Johnny called to check when the money would clear, Cathy realised she had made a terrible mistake.

“I’d put in a double-oh (00) instead of 09,” Cathy says. “That was all my savings.

“I felt like a fool. How could I make such a mistake?”

Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden says getting money back from an incorrect payment can be a tricky process.

“It relies on honesty and goodwill,” she says.

“It’s very disappointing in this case the recipient didn’t return the funds,” Nicola says.

Police investigated the matter as theft and the woman is expected to appear in court on 24 February.

Blenheim court house. File photo.

Judge praises Picton stabbing victim

A 13-year-old boy had been drinking when he stabbed a Picton pensioner in her own home it has been revealed.

The boy, who admitted a charge of assault appeared in youth court after being arrested in June, has apologised to the victim for his actions.

And the 89-year-old women has been praised by the judge for her compassion and positivity.

Overseeing the hearing at Blenheim District Court last week, Judge Russell paid tribute to the victim.

“Her positivity and recovery are absolutely amazing.

“Her world was turned upside down and her physical recovery quite remarkable, but I don’t know how well she’s sleeping at night.”

The woman suffered severe stab wounds in the assault in the early hours of a Sunday morning.

She was taken to Wairau Hospital on Sunday morning and then flown to Wellington Hospital.

She has since been discharged and is home again.

Judge Russell says that at an earlier appearance in court she had been keen to ensure the attacker got the help he needed.

Accompanied in court by his mother, the boy has written letters of apology.

He is also looking at the possibility of volunteering in a bid to give back to the community.

Addressing the boy in court, Judge Russell said he was impressed with the victim’s handling of events.

“She was very compassionate and wants to make sure this never happens to anyone else ever again.

“She is just an amazing lady; a remarkable woman.”

Charged with wounding with intent and burglary, the teenager is being supported by family and Oranga Tamariki.

Following a Family Group Conference, plans have been put in place for the boy who has been remanded to home but can attend school.

A curfew is in place for the boy and there have been no breaches of bail.

The judge said he wanted to explore all avenues to understand what he [the boy] had done and mentioned the possibility of a psychiatric assessment.

Addressing the boy’s mother, Judge Russell asked her how she was feeling.

“You are living every parents’ worst nightmare. You are key in making this plan work.”

Blenheim court house. File photo.

Nurse escapes prison after credit card theft

A nurse convicted of stealing two credit cards from patients has been sentenced to six months of home detention.

Marvel Clavecilla, 46, was yesterday sentenced at Blenheim District Court to 180 days home detention, 180 days of curfew and 60 hours of community service.

The judge said it was the maximum sentence he could impose without sending Clavecilla to prison.

Clavecilla stole two credit cards, one from 90-year-old, Doris Follows, after she died on March 29 and the other from an 89-year-old Blenheim woman admitted to Wairau Hospital for three nights in May this year.

He used both cards to buy take away meals, fuel and groceries.

The woman’s son, Mike O’Donnell, had met with Clavecilla at a restorative justice meeting last month on behalf of his mother.

“I’ve been hugely impressed by the courage and graciousness shown by my mum throughout this terrible ordeal.”

He was in court yesterday to see the former Wairau Hospital nurse sentenced.

“It was a dreadful situation and a huge violation of trust. What Marvel did accelerated mum going into full time care, but I think it’s a just decision and one which will be enabling for her to move forward.”

In a letter to the court, the woman said she believed Clavecilla was genuinely sorry for what he had done.

She did not want to see his family suffer because of his actions she wrote.

“I’ve been here [in the rest home] two weeks now, and my move here was strongly influenced by the stress and fear that your offending had on my life.

“I was devastated to learn what happened to me at hospital – to get home and read the credit card statement was unbelievable.  I’d always felt safe here in Blenheim where I live.  Your actions changed that.

“I was rushed into X-ray after midnight urgently, at that time I spoke to my nurse and said I want to take my handbag with me please, she said to me not to worry … She was wrong.

“I am a very caring person  and have helped many people in my  years  gone by  … especially here in Blenheim over the last 18 years where I have worked with members of the Vanuatu community to help and support them.

For that reason I  hope Marvell you will think about the wrong you have done to me , with my health deteriorating since …and make a change to his life going forward  for his family and the future of them all.

“You are very fortunate Marvell to live in New Zealand where your sons will have wonderful opportunities to get a wonderful education and make their way in this world, like my own son has done.

“Take that opportunity with both hands and cherish it greatly.”

Marvel had resigned from his job at Wairau Hospital rather than face the sack after being charged with 32 counts of credit card theft.

The victim’s son, who praised both his mum and the other victim’s family for their courage throughout the case, says Marvel had been contrite and upset over his actions.

“The judge was really good, really thorough and went through similar cases for legal precedent. We are grateful for the time he spent on it.

“His starting point was a custodial sentence but because he [Marvel] pleaded guilty and showed remorse he was given home detention.

“He and his family have been ostracised on social media and his father, who holds a judicial role in the Philippines, had faced ostracising too.

“We do not want Marvel’s two sons to grow up taking the same path as their dad and that could be the case had he received a custodial sentence.”

Cats in Blenheim are being targeted prompting a police investigation. Photo: Supplied.

Police launch investigation into cat killings

Pets are being killed and poisoned in a series of deliberate and cruel attacks.

Cats in Blenheim are being targeted prompting a police investigation it has been revealed.

Redwoodtown residents in Blenheim yesterday received a letter from police appealing for information about the ongoing abuse.

Officers are also looking for people who think their cats may have been deliberately hurt to come forward in a bid to catch the culprit.

The move comes after a series of attacks on cats and a rise in the number of pets being reported missing.

“Recently, and in the past, cats have been targeted in your area. Some have been injured and some poisoned,” the letter reads.

“We have received a number of reports recently of cats being injured and on several occasions the animal was hit by a person with an air rifle.

“This is a serious offence and persons found committing acts of cruelty to animals face a maximum of five years imprisonment along with firearms charges.”

Blenheim woman Brenda Green’s cat was shot in June with a high velocity slug gun which shattered its shoulder on impact.

The 13-year-old family pet had to be put down.

Knowing someone had set out to harm TC was devastating, Brenda says.

“He came inside, and I thought he had broken his leg as it was just dangling.  He could not do anything with it.

“The vet informed the police and we went and put in a report that day.

“When the vet told us he had been shot and his shoulder bone was completely snapped in two we were really furious that someone could do this.”

Another cat, Smudge, was shot on Bythell Street in Redwoodtown in September last year.

Cat rescue and rehoming charity Marlborough Dog Pawz staff say they have been contacted by pet owners who have had cats killed and maimed.

“There seems to be a lot of it happening and someone must know something

“We would be happy for anyone that knows anything to contact us if they don’t want to talk to police or SPCA directly,” as spokeswoman says.

“It’s a concern someone can be so cold and cruel, next it will be people being shot. At least if that happens people can speak up but not the animals.”

Concerned cat owners have been on high alert for weeks, taking to social media to highlight missing or hurt animals.

If you think your cat had been harmed either phone the police on 105, or email Amy Pottinger on [email protected] and quote file number 190908/2661.

police

Pensioner stabbed in Picton home invasion

An elderly pensioner has been stabbed in a vicious attack after a terrifying home invasion in Picton.

The eighty-year-old woman suffered severe stab wounds in the assault in the early hours of Sunday morning.

She was taken to Wairau Hospital on Sunday morning and then flown to Wellington Hospital.

Marlborough Police have arrested and charged a youth in relation to the assault and another incident in Picton on the same day.

A police spokeswoman says the youth allegedly broke into a property in Picton and assaulted the female occupant before fleeing the scene.

The attack was reported to police at 3.40am.

He was later caught and arrested after being discovered by a homeowner in another Picton home after allegedly breaking in.

Victim support has been offered, says the spokeswoman.

The youth was arrested when they allegedly broke into another address in Picton after being found by the homeowner.

The youth has been charged with wounding with intent and burglary and due to appear in Youth Court this week.

Enquiries are ongoing and a scene examination is underway.

Police are appealing for any information that can help them with their investigation, especially from residents in the Waikawa Road area between Queen Charlotte College and Sussex Street.

Anyone with any information can contact police on 105 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

 

Lockdown has made it easier for police officers to spot people breaking the law, says senior community constable Russell Smith. Photo: File

Lockdown rule breakers arrested

A dozen people caught breaking lockdown Level 4 rules have been arrested.

Marlborough police have issues formal warnings to those caught out and about without good reason.

And repeat offenders not taking the warning to heart have found themselves in court.

Senior community constable Russell Smith says the courts are taking these breaches seriously.

“You may have noticed that Covid-19 Level 4 requirements mean that there are fewer vehicles on the road and far fewer people out-and-about.

“Some people, however, don’t seem to have worked out that this means that if they are out there doing things they are not supposed to be doing, it’s a lot easier for police to find and deal with them,” he says.

Those that have appeared in court have been set stringent bail conditions, including 22-hour a day curfew.

Less traffic means police have also been charging drunk drivers who are easier to spot.

“Police in Marlborough have also been arresting and charging a steady stream of people who have been found driving while intoxicated and driving when they are disqualified or prohibited from driving.

“As previously mentioned, they are easier to spot and more obvious while fewer people are moving around as a result of the Level 4 restrictions,” says senior community constable Smith.

“Please follow the rules. The restrictions are all about saving lives.”

Police have also been getting reports of would-be thieves trying their luck during lockdown.

Residents in Blenheim’s De Castro subdivision have been targeted recently, with police receiving reports of daytime prowlers.

Senior community constable Smith is warning people to be on their guard after several homes were targeted.

“Some residents in the De Castro subdivision have been reporting that they have had prowlers trying to open external doors in daylight while the residents have been home during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown in recent days.

“To date, there have been several residents report hearing their front or rear door handle being tried, and when they have investigated the prowler has already left the property.

“Police are encouraging anyone who experiences similar activity, or who believes they have a prowler on their property to call Police on 111.”

 

Blenheim man Mark Bishell was arrested on Saturday on a yacht allegedly trafficking methamphetamines. Photo: Supplied.

Blenheim man caught in high seas drug bust

A former Blenheim man has been arrested after being caught on a yacht allegedly hauling hundreds of kilos of methamphetamines.

Mark Bishell, 33, was taken into custody by police on Saturday following a tip off from the New Caledonian authorities last week.

Bishell was on board the sailboat La Fayette when police uncovered more than 1000 plastic wrapped packages believed to be methamphetamine.

An Australian Federal Police spokesman says forensic experts are now carrying out tests on the drugs and the yacht.

British-South African Sebastian Seve Barnard, 34, has also been arrested.

“Specialist forensic officers are continuing to deconstruct the boat and examine the contents, which is believed to contain methamphetamine.

Packages found on the yacht, La Fayette. Photo: Australian Federal Police.
Packages found on the yacht, La Fayette. Photo: Australian Federal Police.

“Further forensic testing will be undertaken to determine the exact weight and purity of the seized substances,” a spokesman says.

Bishell, a former deckhand and fisherman, was rescued from near White’s Bay in 2011 after falling ill onboard a fishing boat with a serious bowel infection.

He was winched to safety amid high winds by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew.

The former Marlborough Boys’ College student was a keen rower and runner.

The two men were taken to Surry Hills Police Station and charged with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.

Police say a “vessel of interest” travelled from Mexico to New Caledonia to meet the yacht La Fayette and load it with drugs.

Both Bishell and Barnard were refused bail after appearing before Parramatta Bail Court.

The pair were arrested on Saturday. Photo: Australian Federal Police.
The pair were arrested on Saturday. Photo: Australian Federal Police.

The maximum penalty for the offence is life imprisonment.

The spokesman says the investigation, codenamed Operation ROMANI, has been an ongoing operation with the UK’s National Crime Agency and its office in Canberra looking into British Organised Crime groups targeting Australia.

The multi-agency investigation included the Australian Federal Police (AFP), New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) and Australian Border Force (ABF), collaborating with agencies from the United Kingdom and New Caledonia.

Drivers caught breaking lockdown may face arrest. Photo: File

Drivers caught out breaking lockdown for an Easter break

A plea by police for people not to breach self-solation over Easter is falling on deaf ears for some.

Nelson Marlborough and Tasman Police have caught the drivers of eight campervans and house buses at a checkpoint on SH6 this morning.

All have been trying to head north from Murchison for Easter, say police.

This comes as police revealed they would be ramping up efforts on the roads to catch out those flouting lockdown rules.

“We are checking to see why people are travelling.

So far eight camper vans and house buses have been turned around and ordered back to their Christchurch homes where they were supposed to be rather than trying to get to an Easter Holiday destination,” says a social media post.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is urging people to stay stay and stay at home.

“We know many New Zealanders may have been planning to catch up with friends and family this weekend, or travel to traditional holiday destinations but we urge anyone who was planning to do this – please change your plans and stay home.

“Officers will be visible in our communities and on the roads, including around popular holiday spots, and on the arterial roads to them, to make sure people are aware of the requirement that everyone in New Zealand need to stay at their current place of residence while the Level 4 restrictions are in place,” he says.

Police will also be deploying checkpoints at a number of Marlborough locations, working with local authorities and Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups.

Police Commissioner Coster warns people face arrest if they continue to ignore warnings.

Travelling to the bach for a holiday is not essential travel and it is not permitted, he says.

“It’s simple – travelling to and from different towns and cities risks spreading Covid-19 and puts lives at risk.

“The first step will be to educate, but if people continue to break the rules, police will use their discretion to warn people, or if necessary, they could be arrested.

“We’re asking everyone to play their part this Easter, stick to the rules and stay home within their bubble – and keep themselves and their communities safe.”

Jessica Boyce’s disappearance is being treated as murder. Photo: Supplied.

Family’s heart-felt plea to killer

The family of murder victim Jessica Boyce have made an emotional plea to her killer to end their torment.

As the first anniversary of the day she disappeared approaches, Jessica’s cousin Aaron Goodwin has a message for her killer – hand yourself in.

And he is begging for the murderer to reveal where Jessica’s body can be found so she can finally be laid to rest.

In an open message to the killer, Aaron says he still hopes that Jessica’s killer will do the right thing.

“You have had a year to do the right thing. I still, perhaps naively, hold on to hope that your conscience will get the better of you – that any good values your family may have instilled in you when you were young will win out.

“You will make an attempt at redemption and you will either hand yourself in or at least find a way to communicate to us where we can find and retrieve Jess,” he says.

Jessica Boyce was 27 when she was last seen in Renwick on 19 March driving her mum’s red Holden Rodeo ute.

The vehicle was discovered at the Lake Chalice car park in the Richmond Ranges on Friday, March 22.

Jessica’s disappearance became a homicide investigation in October.

Posting on the Find Jess website last week, Aaron says the killer must be struggling with what they have done.

“How long can you live with yourself knowing what you’ve done?

“Replaying it over and over in your head like a movie, heart skipping a beat and morphing into a full-blown panic attack when the police release another statement or Jess’s face reappears in the media,” he says.

“Your own life is more-or-less over, the only way to regain your humanity and anything resembling peace of mind back now is to confess and to own your part in Jess’s homicide and the subsequent cover up.

“How long can you trust anyone else involved with Jess’s disappearance to keep their mouth shut? How do you know they aren’t already talking, laying as much of the blame at your feet as possible before you can even formulate a defence?

Described by Aaron as “innocently naïve,” Jessica is mourned every day by her distraught family and wide circle of friends.

“Where has the time gone? Weird how it can seem like each day waiting for a development seems to drag on forever, yet it seems like only yesterday we got the news that you were missing,” he says.

Robbing her of a future also “struck fear” into the community, says Aaron.

“You have struck fear into the heart of the peaceful Marlborough community. Your community.

“The rumours about the investigation must be driving you insane, and that’s only going to get worse. People should not have to worry that killers are walking among them on Marlborough streets.

“Not only have you taken away a person whose light and energy was responsible for so much happiness in the world, you have also forever changed in a negative way the lives of many family members and friends of Jess’s”.

Jessica’s brother George is now living with Aaron. Having him close by is a comfort, he says.

He will never give up on finding justice for Jessica, he says.

“The most offensive consequence of your actions is the fact that you have robbed Jess of any future she would have had, here with us, where she belongs.

Friend Theresa Mischeski described Jessica’ disappearance as a “nightmare.”

“She’s one of ours, The cop’s have been told so much by so many of us I can’t understand why no one is arrested?

“I don’t know what else to say but keep strong to her family and friends, I’m sure they will get the hideous subhumans whom are involved.”

New Zealand police have been approached for comment and say they plan on releasing a statement on 19 March.

Anyone with any information can contact Crimestoppers New Zealand anonymously on 0800 555 111. Visit crimestoppers-nz.org for more ways to help.

Blenheim Police can be contacted on 578 5279.