Twenty-seven-year-old Jessica has been missing since 19 March. Photo: Supplied.

Missing woman’s family raise reward money

The family of missing Renwick woman Jessica Boyce hope a reward will lead to information to reunite them.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jessica has been missing since 19 March.

With no confirmed sightings of her since, her cousin and close friend Aaron Goodwin, has launched a bid to raise $50,000 to use as a reward.

He says he hopes the money will entice someone to come forward with details which will lead them to Jess or able them to recover her body.

“The information you provide must lead directly to Jess, or, worst case scenario, her body,” he says.

The Dunedin-based businessman launched a Givealittle page two days ago.

More than $800 has already been donated.

Any money raised will be put towards a reward, even if the total amount is not raised.

He urged anyone who thought they might be able to help to come forward as quickly as possible.

“The reward will not be shared among multiple people who provide the information we need. If you know something then first in first served, speak up quickly.

“If we don’t meet the fundraising goal, all the money still goes toward a reward.

“Please give what you can. Every bit helps,” he says.

Jessica was last seen leaving Renick in her mother’s red Holden Rodeo which was later discovered abandoned on a mountain track near Lake Chalice.

There was no sign of Jess in or near the vehicle, but her  phone, wallet, cash and phone (missing a Sim card) had been left inside.

The vehicle was unlocked with the keys still in the ignition. The battery was dead, and the fuel gauge was sitting just above ‘E’.

​Police and LandSAR searched the immediate area around Lake Chalice for much of the following week but there was no sign of Jessica.

Jess’s disappearance is still being treated as a missing persons case by police, says Aaron.

“In the event Jess is found before anyone claims the reward, the money will be used for any treatment Jess may require, with the remainder going to charity.

“If no witnesses come forward and Jess is not found, the money will be kept for a reasonable amount of time to allow witnesses to come forward at a later date, before being donated to charity,” he says.

Witnesses sought for marina smash

Alcohol could be to blame after a boat smashed into Picton’s wharf.

The boat, from Wellington was heading into Picton Marina on Friday about 5pm when it crashed into the wharf, near the Coat Hanger bridge.

Witnesses to the crash are being sought by Picton Harbour Master Luke Grogan as prosecution is a possibility.

He says he believes drink may have contributed to the crash, which left a hole of around two-and-a-half metres square.

“It was apparent to me that there had been alcohol involved. We need to find out whether that was a factor in what happened.

“Looking at CTV there were quite a number of people who saw it. It was early evening and a nice day and people had just been leaving work,

“We need to put together elements and see what factors were involved.

“I’d be very keen to hear from anyone who saw it happen or indeed saw the boat arrive in the marina,” he says.

The Sun Dancer travelled across the Cook Strait into Picton and speed has also not been ruled out as a factor, says Luke.

The Sun Dancer smashed into the wharf on Friday. Photo: Supplied.

There is a five-knot speed limit within 200 metres of the shore. Fixed speed cameras were also rolled out in Marlborough in October 2017.

“We need to look at the facts and evaluate if there’s been a breach of the Maritime Safety Act”.

Police were called to the scene on Friday and spoke to people on the boat.

The Marina is owned by Port Marlborough and Maritime New Zealand would be the most likely party to take enforcement action.

In the first instance, it is Marlborough District Council and the harbor master who oversee the initial investigation.

Luke says that inappropriate behavior is sadly not unusual.

“Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual case to have behavior that’s less than ideal.

“We want to connect with as many people as possible who saw what happened.

“From that we’re starting to build a picture of what happened and to see if speed or alcohol contributed,” he says.

Picton offers permanent and visitor berths for vessels from eight to 35 metres plus.

Port Marlborough infrastructure manager Gavin Beattie says he hopes repair work would start in the next week.

He says he did not think the rebuild would be too expensive in terms of cost.

“It doesn’t affect the structure, but we would want it repaired reasonably quickly to keep boats and wash away.

“The broken timber pickets will need to be removed and new ones put in place”.

Port Marlborough maintain a regular program of on-going maintenance, says Gavin, who has been manager at the busy port since 2012.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information that may be useful to the investigation should contact the harbour master via [email protected] or contact 520 7400.

The girl behind the headlines

Aaron Goodwin is talking about his cousin Jess Boyce in the past tense. It is a bad day; despair and grief his constant shadows.

On other mornings, Aaron is sure she will be found alive and well or come bouncing back through the door, full of apologies and breathless explanations.

But the torment of not knowing where the bright-eyed blond is, is taking its toll on all the family. It is both relentless and exhausting.

Not a day goes by where Aaron does not think of her; the girl he grew up with.

“Some days I wake up and I feel completely pessimistic, I think of Jess in the past tense and other days I can’t wait to see her and tell her about a cool spot I’ve found or something.”

The pair are very close and grew up together in the same house in Renwick. Jess’s girlhood room was decorated with Harry Potter movie posters.

She was captivated by the books and movies, her room a testament to her  love all things Hermione and Harrs. While her interests have changed and matured, the hopeful girl who loved life is still there insist her family.

“We were more like siblings than cousins,” say Aaron who oversees the ‘Help Find Jess’ website on behalf of the family.

27-year-old Jess loved life and “very social”. She was always the first person to put her hand up to help others struggling with mental health issues.

Although Jess suffered her own battle recently,  struggling with feelings of guilt following a car accident in which a friend died, Aaron is confident she did not take her own life.

“In the whole 27 years of knowing Jess, of hearing her deepest, darkest thoughts, she never spoke to me about suicide. I just know Jess wouldn’t go there,” he says.

Jess’s love of adventure would see her go off on her own from time to time; she loved to camp and enjoyed nature.

Music, says Aaron, would play wherever she went, a song accompanied everything she did.

But  no matter how far she ventured, she always had her phone with her and never let her family worry about her.

“She loved her music, you never saw Jess without her music, she always came with music.

“She was very sociable and always visiting friends, she wasn’t one of those young people who slept in during the day, she was an early riser and would always have friends around or be out visiting friends,”  Aaron says.

Rumours have been rife on social media about the former Marlborough Girls’ College student and a possible link with methamphetamine.

Regardless of what she may have been involved with, she always believed the best in people, says Aaron.

“Once the word meth pops up, people stop thinking of her as a person and instead imagine she some hard woman, someone she just wasn’t.

“She was so innocently naïve and genuinely did not understand about consequences, but she was not the hard woman that some people seem to think she was.

“We’re talking about an almost 30-year-old woman whose favourite movies were old Disney ones.

“She looked at the world through rose-coloured glasses.”

Together with Aaron, Jess attended Seymour Kindergarten. She was a pupil at Whitney Street School before moving on to Bohally intermediate and then Marlborough Girls’ College.

Her younger self peers out of an old family photo of both Aaron and Jess at preschool; a smiley, happy girl with the world at her feet.

Aaron speaks with quiet pride about how Jess went to community college to obtain further NCEA credits.

“I know she was keen on starting an alternative-style clothing line. She started practising with sewing machines and finding different kinds of fabric to use.” Aaron says.

A sausage dog called Alice was Jess’s constant companion for many years.

“Jess was into people and into animals. She really was the best of people; she had such an uplifting spirit.

Aaron says there have been no confirmed sightings of Jess since her sudden disappearance.

The close-knit pair spent almost every day together up until 3-years-ago when Aaron moved to Dunedin.

For Aaron and her family, Jess’s absence is nothing short of heartbreaking and some of the information they have received via public tip-offs has, he says, been “harrowing”.

But despite whisperings on social media about the police not doing enough to find Jess, Aaron is adamant they are working hard.

“I can see that people are getting frustrated but there’s a process and it’s been explained to us. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that we’ve been asked not to talk about, but I know the police are working hard.

“They are in constant contact with aunty Kay and it’s a bit unfair of people to be on social media tugging their chain.

While the days where the dread becomes overwhelming are many, Aaron says he has not lost all hope.

Some of the family have prepared for the worst and are ready to accept that Jess is gone. But for Aaron, there are still days where he pictures her walking back through the door.

“We just miss her so much.”

Anyone with any information can contact Blenheim police on 03 578 5279 or anonymous tips can be passed on to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Friends mourn loss of ‘a great guy’ killed by pirates

Close friends of a Picton man killed by Panama pirates have spoken of their loss as they remember “a great bloke.”

A great, community-minded guy who loved his family is how Alan Culverwell is remembered by friends who are struggling to come to terms with the shock news of his death.

Friend and fellow paua diver Barry Chandler from Blenheim says he met Alan 30 years ago.

His friend’s death was like something from a bad movie, he says.

“It’s unbelievable. I heard through the Paua Association and couldn’t take it in.

“We’re a tight knit group and very close,” he says.

Alan Culverwell, 60, died last week defending his family and was shot at close range after pirates boarded the family’s berthed boat, the Aqua Lobo, while they slept.

His wife, Derryn Culverwell, suffered a machete blow to her shoulder. The couple’s daughter, 11, was also hurt in the attack, while their son was on board but uninjured.

Leandro Herrera and Avelino Arosemen appeared in court over the attack.

The pair were charged with aggravated homicide, robbery, criminal association and mistreatment of a minor. A third suspect, a minor, appeared in court separately.

Barry says he and Alan has spent a lot of time together over the years and enjoyed a long-standing joke at work over who could collect the most paua.

“He had a great sense of humour and when we were diving, we had a competitive thing going.

“I got him into hunting, and we played golf together – he’s one of the most obliging blokes I’ve met,” he says.

Barry says it was while Alan was building his house in Oyster Bay near Tory Channel that they got to spend more time together.

“I’d go up and see Al and have a coffee with him, help him lift a couple of beams.

“I’ll remember him for his practicality, common sense and drive.

“He was very forward thinking, very community minded. He was one of the guys who could just see the bigger picture.

“We’ll miss him.”

Paua Industry Council chief executive officer Jeremy Copper says he had meet Alan in the early 1990’s through work.

“But he soon become a friend.

“As we became more involved, I got to know him very well. He was one of the guys and the first person to put his hand up if something could be done.

“He’d always put his nose to the grindstone and get things done,” he says.

Jeremy says his motorbike-mad friend has always dreamt of getting his own boat and was delighted when he found the right one.

“He showered me with pictures of it.

“It was cheaper to sail it back from Florida to New Zealand so that’s what he did.”

The talented spear fisherman met his wife Derryn while she was a teacher at Stoke School near Nelson says Jeremy.

“I’ve known Derryn for a long time and am devastated for them.

“We will do anything we can to help,” he says.

A bank account has been set up to help Alan’s family. Donations can be made to BNZ account: 020-0500-0698118-000.

Victim hits out at assault

Trapped on his mobility scooter, pensioner Doug Woolf watched in horror as the Ute raced towards him.

As his scooter crashed to the ground, the 67-year-old Blenheim man says he thought he was going to die.

He has now hit out at the court system after the man who attacked him escaped jail.

The frail pensioner has been left bewildered and angry by the court’s decision.

“What’s to put him off doing this to someone else? It’s hardly much of a deterrent.

“I would like to have seen him charged with attempted murder as it was a deliberate act and I could have died.

“I wasn’t able to defend myself properly but if it had been someone in their 90s, I believe he would have killed them,” Doug says.

The man was sentenced to nine months suspended sentence and community service last week in Taupo District Court.

He was also ordered to pay reparation in $25-dollar instalments.

He says he had been heading home when he was punched several times around the head by the offender.

“He tried to pull me off my scooter. I could have looked after myself a few years ago but not now.

“I drove up the road and dialled 111 and while I was talking, I heard the car coming and then it hit.

“There was glass all over the road, my hearing aids fell out and my stuff was everywhere.

“People came running over to help and stayed with me until the police and ambulance arrived.

“I find it almost impossible to believe that this happened in Blenheim. I keep seeing the Ute driving straight for me and am quite traumatised by it all,” he says.

The man had been visiting relatives in Blenheim for a 21st birthday party and he had been drinking.

Doug says he has been left in a great deal of pain and is still shaken by what happened.

“I haven’t been in great health anyway, but this has made it much worse.

“I’m very wary of going out on my scooter now. I thought he would get jail time, that’s what the police told me.

“It’s gutting.”