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A ‘mindless’ murder: 10 years on

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the brutal murder of Featherston man Glen Jones, but the crime remains fresh in the minds of those who knew him.

Former South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples said the unprovoked killing “ripped the guts out of the community”.

“It came as a great shock, a huge shock to our community because Jonesy worked at the local supermarket and basically anybody who shopped there knew him.

“He was just such a cheery, friendly guy who would not hurt a soul, and our whole community really grieved for him.

“It just seems so needless and pointless and just such a rotten
thing to do,” Staples said.

Glen Jones died in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, January 12, 2013, after suffering head injuries in a vigilante attack at his home that Justice Alan MacKenzie described as the product of a “mindless mob mentality”.

The killers broke into Glen Jones’ Featherston home and beat him to death with wooden axe handles and a homemade bat after hearing a false rumour that he had raped someone they knew.

Glen Jones’ name was posthumously cleared of the unfounded rape accusation after the murder trial.

Tariana Jones, Matthew McKinney, Hayden Ranson, and Kristofer Jones were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 for the murder, with a 17-year non-parole period.

McKinney’s partner Toni Miller was also sentenced to eight years imprisonment for aggravated burglary, having driven three of the killers to Featherston from Masterton, where they’d been drinking at Tariana Jones’ house.

Miller, whom the Crown identified as one of the instigators of the attack but was not charged with murder, served her full sentence and was released on parole in December 2019. Tariana Jones, Kristofer Jones and Toni Miller all unsuccessfully appealed their convictions and sentences in 2015.

Tariana Jones again unsuccessfully tried to appeal her sentence in 2018.

The court described Glen Jones as a vulnerable victim – not only because he was taken by surprise and defenceless, but also because he suffered from learning disabilities and a number of ailments following a childhood brain tumour, including being weak in the right side of his body and almost blind in his right eye.

The court could not determine which of the killers had inflicted the head injuries that killed Glen Jones, which is why the judge sentenced all four of them to life imprisonment and 17 years without parole.

After the sentencing, Detective Inspector Sean Hansen, who oversaw the case, said the sentences were justified.

“The lengthy sentences that have been imposed today should send a clear message that acts of vigilante justice will not, and should not, be tolerated in our communities.

“The reality, in this case, is that nothing brings Glen back,” he said.

Hansen said the killers’ actions would also damage their own families.

“The sad reality of today is that most of the defendants involved are parents themselves.

“They have now deprived their children for many, many
years to come,” Hansen said.

Glen Jones’ older brother Brent, who now works as a counsellor in Australia, declined to comment when approached by the Times-Age, saying “I’ve said what needed to be said”.

In a victim impact statement, Brent Jones told the court his brother’s murder was “a big knife in our hearts”.

“He was the most loved and cherished member of our family, a very kind and gentle man who would only ever see the best in people,” Brent Jones said.

“He was a loving, caring, honest and harmless man who struggled throughout his life to complete the simplest things that we all take for granted.”

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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