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Twist in the Rakaia murder trial: Brother of murder defendant is on the witness stand

A man has testified about a dramatic late night rush to stop his brother from ‘hitting’ a Canterbury dairy farmer who was found murdered in his bed the next morning.

Tony Grant Waldron, 29, was found dead at his farmhouse on Gardiners Rd, Rakaia, 45 minutes south of Christchurch on September 18, 2019 after failing to show up for the 5.30am milking.

Following a massive murder investigation codenamed “Operation Gardiner,” Waldron’s estranged wife Bamber, 35, and her cousin, Joshua Dylan Morris-Bamber, 28, have been charged with murder.

They deny murdering Waldron or having any part in his death.

Yesterday and today, Isak Morris-Bamber testified at the Christchurch High Court in his family’s murder trial.

He spoke about hearing that his brother – who he was very close to – was “angry” and headed to Waldron’s rural estate late September 17, 2019.

Panicked, he dressed quickly, left his inner Christchurch apartment, and drove his car south to the farm. He says he was hoping he could beat him there and talk him out of everything.

The court previously heard that Joshua Morris-Bamber allegedly asked his cousin that night: ‘What’s Tony’s address? I need to let out some trouble.”

The Crown says Bamber encouraged Morris-Bamber to seriously attack Waldron, who she claimed was having an affair with her bridesmaid, in order to “teach him a lesson”.

Along the way, Emily Templeton texted her partner Isak Morris-Bamber at 11.15pm saying: “Don’t help him” and then “Stop him” before adding seconds later: “Nobody’s going to jail tonight”.

He reported back with the concern that if his brother Joshua had “already started” when he got there, there was no way he could stop him.

When asked by prosecutor Andrew McRae what he thought his brother was up to, Isak Morris-Bamber told the jury he assumed he was going there “to beat up Tony”.

Then he started getting lyrics from Alanah Bamber.

“I think come home, he’s unstoppable,” she wrote to him at 11:28 p.m., the court heard.

“I think he’ll get in and out clean… it’s too late, better one life than two.”

Isak Morris-Bamber decided to return home.

When he got there, he was met by Bamber, who allegedly demanded that he delete their text message exchange.

When asked how he felt about it, he said in court, “A little scared, to be honest.”

But he deleted them and started playing video games to try to calm himself down.

Waldron went to bed around 12:56 that night after playing the online video game Fortnite with a buddy.

The Crown alleges Morris-Bamber drove south on SH1 to Waldron’s farm for about 45 minutes, with cellphone data and CCTV from NZTA cameras recording his movements.

His car, the Crown says, was hijacked at 12:56 am while passing a golf course heading towards Gardiners Rd.

The same car passes the same golf course again at 1:04 am and heads back to Rakaia.

With driving time, the Crown says Morris-Bamber had “at least four minutes” at Waldron’s house, which they said was “ample time” to go inside and fatally attack him while he slept.

A post-mortem indicates that Waldron was hit at least three times in the side of the head, ear and neck by a solid weapon.

Waldron suffered a fractured skull – dislodging a 4cm x 2cm fragment of bone – along with several other cracks and a broken jaw.

Morris-Bamber hurried away, the Crown claims, pausing briefly to hide “forensically important items” such as the murder weapon and bloodied clothing that he would later allegedly move again. They would never be found, the court heard.

Isak Morris-Bamber also told the court that he went to Twizel for Waldron’s funeral.

He recalled leaving a family member’s house late one night when Bamber stopped him, Templeton and Morris-Bamber, reportedly saying, “I just want you [Joshua] knowing they know you planned to go there.”

His brother reportedly replied, “The less you know, the better.”

Morris-Bamber’s defense attorney, Anne Stevens KC, cross-examined Isak Morris-Bamber that it was an assumption on his part as he walked to the farm in a panic that Joshua would “beat up Tony,” which he agreed to.

He accepted that he had no information from any of his family members that he was upset with Waldron.

“There was never any bad blood between Tony and Joshua,” he said.

The trial before Judge Gerard Nation continues.

His partner asked him to come home and not interfere.

– By Kurt Bayer

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