Tourism

23-year-old charged with shooting Aussie tourist in New Zealand

A man has been charged with the murder of an Australian tourist who was shot dead in New Zealand on Friday.

Sean McKinnon, 33, was shot multiple times as he slept next to his Canadian fiancée in a rented campervan parked in Raglan, a surfing town in Waikato, by a man who allegedly demanded the keys to the vehicle.

McKinnon’s fiancée, Bianca Buckley managed to flee the scene and seek help at a nearby house.

Police in New Zealand allege the man drove the stolen vehicle away as McKinnon lay dying in the back, before abandoning it in Gordonton, 80 kilometres away.

A 23-year old man was arrested and charged with McKinnon’s murder following a police raid at a property on the outskirts of Hamilton on Friday night, ABC News reported.

The man, whose identity has been suppressed, appeared in Hamilton district court on Saturday, charged with murder, aggravated robbery, threatening to kill and driving disqualified. He will remain in custody until he faces another hearing in New Zealand’s high court on 27 August.

Police have yet to find the gun used in the attack and are appealing to the public for information, asking drivers if they had seen hitchhikers in the area where the campervan was found during the daylight hours of Friday.

“Particularly, if any motorists that travelled this route on Friday have dashcam footage, police would like to hear from you,” Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said, according to the ABC.

McKinnon’s sister Emmeline told reporters outside the court on Saturday the family is supporting Buckley, who she described as amazingly resilient and strong.

“I can’t begin to understand what she’s been through,” she said.

Buckley ran six kilometres in bare feet, hiding in bushes along the way when she heard creaks and thought her fiancé’s murderer was coming after her, a man who preferred not to be named told ABC News.

It was the unnamed man who took Buckley in during the early hours of Friday morning as she ran down the street calling for help.

“I popped my head out the window and asked her what was going on,” he told the ABC.

“Obviously it was that her partner’s been shot, the van’s been stolen, stuck in the middle of nowhere, ‘Can you help me?’

“In the light of the situation — yeah of such a heinous act, she was brave, man, real brave.”

The shooting occurred just one month after Australian man Lucas Fowler and his Canadian girlfriend Chynna Deese were shot on the side of the road in northern British Colombia.

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