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Neighbour's murderer loses appeal

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 15/12/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">A man who murdered his neighbour in Christchurch in 2012 has lost his appeal against his conviction.</span> © Getty A man who murdered his neighbour in Christchurch in 2012 has lost his appeal against his conviction. A Christchurch man has lost his bid to overturn his conviction for murdering his neighbour with a garden gnome.

Timothy Joseph Foley was jailed for at least 11 years and eight months after pleading guilty to the June 2012 murder of Michelle Mary Lawrence in Christchurch.

Ms Lawrence, 41, died in hospital from head injuries.

Foley had told a friend he had used a metal bar to attack her, but later told police he used a garden gnome to beat his former lover on the back of her head.

However, Foley claimed at the Court of Appeal in November that another neighbour, 'Mr T', entered her flat after he attacked her and left, and then attacked her as well.

Foley claimed did not receive proper legal advice before pleading guilty.

He had admitted attacking Ms Lawrence telling a 111 operator "she's quite bad" and repeated the admission to police and a friend.

The court said the supposed defence that Mr T carried out an attack after Foley's initial assault was a "fantastic proposition" as there was only five minutes between him ending his call to emergency service and police arriving at the scene.

"In our view no jury would have entertained a reasonable doubt as to Mr Foley's guilt by considering Mr T (or any other person) may have undertaken a second murderous attack on Ms Lawrence in the five minute timeframe available that night," it said.

The court also rejected the claims that ill health affected his decision to plead guilty, that he hadn't meant to admit murder and there were police failings in the investigation.

It said it was not until nine months after the crime that Foley claimed there was a second assailant but luminal testing undertaken at the time of the crime which showed footprints from Ms Lawrence's flat to Foley's but to no other.

Foley admitted the murder on the second day of his trial in February 2015.

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