The man who snatched a handbag from a businesswoman then ran her down in a stolen vehicle has been jailed for at least 12 years.
Christopher Jacob Shadrock, 23, was found guilty of murdering Joanne Wang by a jury in May. He was today sentenced to life in jail for murder and ordered to serve at least 12 years before being eligible for release. His trial heard he stole Mrs Wang’s handbag containing a large sum of cash in the Manukau Westfield shopping centre car park on June 16 2008, causing her to chase after him.
As Shadrock tried to escape in the stolen 4WD he ran into her, knocking her onto the concrete. She died later in hospital from major head injuries. Her 8 year-old son Edmund watched his mother being run down from the van she had been getting into when her bag was snatched. He was left alone in the car park while others rushed to where his mother lay bleeding on the ground.
Five others who were found guilty of the roles they played during and after the murder were sentenced today along with Shadrock. Vila Lemanu, 25, was found guilty of theft and being an accessory after the fact of murder was sentenced to three years jail.
Maka Tuikolovatu, 22, Lionel Tekanawa, 24, Mateni Lynch, 20, and Terence Tere, 22, were found guilty of being accessories to murder by helping Shadrock avoid arrest. Tuikolavatu received 18 months jail and Tekanawa two years jail. Lynch and Tere will be sentenced in two weeks. Their sentencing was adjourned while home detention options are available.
Prosecutor Christine Gordon SC read victim impact statements to the sentencing at the High Court at Auckland from Mrs Wang’s 78 year-old father and 76 year-old mother as well as her husband. The father told of the “terrible wrench’ he felt since the murder. He said it was as if “someone has taken a knife and cut open my chest and taken a piece of my heart without anesthetics”.
The former university professor said “the cruel young men” had turned their lives upside down. He came to New Zealand to be close to his daughter who said the country was the safest and most beautiful in the world. Mrs Wang wanted her parents to live near them so she could take care of them, the court heard.
Mrs Wang’s husband Jialin Huang told of how he and Edmund visited her grave each day and spoke to her about their lives. He hoped Shadrock and the others would one day understand the pain he was now experiencing. His statement said he still couldn’t believe his “beautiful wife” was gone forever.
Shadrock’s lawyer, Michele Wilkinson Smith, said he accepted he would be sentenced to life but he wanted to apologise to Mrs Wang’s family, particularly to Edmund Wang, who witnessed his mother be injured and who would grow up without a mother. His actions were “stupid and reckless” and he knew it, the lawyer said.
Justice Rodney Hansen Shadrock said Shadrock acted in the heat of the moment when he found his escape blocked, making the fateful decision to accelerate forward,.
Justice Hansen did not believe he deliberately run her down but when accelerated forward he knew he was likely to kill Mrs Wang or at least cause her very serious harm.
In sentencing him to life in jail, the judge said Shadrock had a long way to go to turning his life around and the lengthy time he would spend behind bars would test his resolve and character.