Mother begs Nicole Tuxford for justice as the inquest comes to a close

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Cherie Gillatt has been in court with her daughter’s ashes for the past two weeks.
Photo: RNZ / Niva Chittock

Murdered woman Nicole Tuxford’s mother says making it through the inquest into her daughter’s death is the hardest thing she’s done.

Paul Tainui raped and murdered Tuxford in 2018 while serving a life sentence for the 1994 murder of Kimberley Schroder.

A joint inquest into Tuxford’s death and the suspected suicide of Gary Schroder, Kimberley’s father, has been adjourned in Christchurch today.

Nicole Tuxford

Nicole Tuxford
Photo: Delivered

Cherie Gillatt has been in court with her daughter’s ashes for the past two weeks.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do… But she had to be there. She had to be a part of it because we needed answers for her and to show [those in court] she was a person,” she said.

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Through tears she said that her daughter deserves justice.

“She was amazing, beautiful, [full of] laughter, a happy go lucky girl. She just wanted to live and help people.

“[The inquest] won’t bring her back, but if it’s going to help someone else, it’s worth it.”

She will always be in my heart, Gillatt sobbed.

Kimberley and Gary Schroder’s family and friends watched today’s events from a distance.

In her testimony to the coroner, Jenny Keogan, the Schroder family spokesperson and Kimberley’s best friend, described the moment when police told her that Tainui had killed again.

“I felt sick, angry, sad and horrified when I heard about Nicole Tuxford’s murder. I just knew the moment I heard that she, too, would have died in similar circumstances to Kimmy’s all those years before.” , she said.

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“More lives [had been] changed forever.”

Keogan helped clean Kimmy’s flat after her murder by scrubbing the blood from the bathtub.

She said it still touched her even years later.

“It took me years to sleep with the lights off at night, and even to this day I don’t like being alone in the house at night… We all continue to serve life sentences for whatever he did,” she wrote to the Parole Board in 2008.

Gaps in Corrections’ Approach – Victim’s Advocate

Independent victim attorney Ruth Money supported both the Tuxford and Schroder families during the inquest.

She believed there were obvious holes in Corrections’ handling of high-risk offenders.

So far, Corrections assessments seemed to have made little change on the front lines, Money said.

“There are systemic issues when we treat high risk offenders. There needs to be specialist training and specialist services for that one per cent. And we keep getting that wrong in New Zealand,” she said.

“That’s the bit that absolutely needs to change.”

Money hoped this research would be different and help create real improvements to the system.

Coroner Elliot today thanked the families for the courage they had shown each day in court.

He said their strength was inspiring given their background of pain and suffering.

The investigation will resume in the new year.

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