Cook Islands Double Murderer Shot Himself With Same Rifle As Victims

Incident documented in detailed inquiry report

By Richard Moore

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March 20, 2017) – Double murderer Chris Rimamotu turned his rifle on himself in the siege house in Vaimaanga and took his own life.

That is the finding of the review team into the October 19 triple shootings.

The inquiry says an Australian Federal Police firearms specialist has confirmed that the rifle used by Rimamotu to murder Maryanne Dean and Roger Tauarea was the same weapon used in his suicide.

“This will alleviate any suspicions that he was shot by police and this confirms the pathology evidence that describes the injury as a result of the gunshot wound,” the review team says.

Both inquiry members Denis McDermott and Tevai Matapo also read the two suicide notes left by Rimamotu.

While explaining details of the manhunt for the killer, McDermott said at one stage a patrol spotted the offender and his stolen vehicle in Turangi.

“On (officers) approaching the vehicle, the offender pointed a rifle at the members then sped from the scene with a police pursuit taking place.

“The pursuit lasted for 13 minutes when the patrol lost the vehicle near Coconut Haven. The pursuit reached speeds of 120km/h.

“Two other police vehicles joined the pursuit.

“The offender had an opportunity to shoot at police and did not.”

The review team was advised by the police that it was more than likely the .22 rifle used in this tragedy, along with two others found with additional ammunition, had been imported via a container from New Zealand in 2010.

“Customs records show that the container was searched on October 20, 2010, however it seems the firearms were not located.

“All weapons were unlicensed and the Cook Islands Police Service has no record of them ever being registered in the Cook Islands.

“The police sought assistance from New Zealand authorities on gun registrations and they have not been able to provide any assistance as to the possibility of Rimamotu having the guns before departure from New Zealand in 2010.”

The inquiry says: “When taking into account the fact that about 3000 rounds of ammunition was located in the container owned by Rimamotu it does seem inconceivable that the weapons and ammunition were imported via the international airport.

“Logically, the container owned by Rimamotu, which arrived by sea on October 20, 2010 is the best option for their arrival.”

The ammunition found in the container was almost 1400 .22 bullets, 152 12-gauge shotgun shells and 1500 slug gun bullets.

In their report McDermott and Matapo said the Cook Islands is operating under outdated 1958 weapons legislation and, based on comments during the review, a new Weapons Bill has been drafted; however, it has not been enacted.

“It would be beneficial to have the bill enacted immediately as it impacts on the importation of firearms and a range of other control measures.

“As a consideration, the Cook Islands government could consider increasing penalties for possession of unlicensed firearms, limiting one gun per owner, increase the cost of firearm licences and impose a tighter security process with either, lockable gun cabinets or trigger locks.”

They add that the government and police have embarked on a gun amnesty and “to date the results have not been positive”.

“Perhaps the option is to extend the amnesty and to enforce a total gun and ammunition importation ban until the amnesty is resolved.

“In the extreme the government could consider banning guns in the Cook Islands - as has happened in another Pacific nation.

“This would not be a popular choice, however unless a genuine effort is made by the community, the current gun ownership will not change.

“Honest people will remain honest, but sadly in any community there are those who just cannot avoid being dishonest.”

Cook Islands News
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