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Gary Lawrence McKINLEY





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 21, 1986
Date of arrest: 9 days after
Date of birth: 1960
Victim profile: Wendy Snowdon, 23
Method of murder: Beating with a rock / Strangulation
Location: New Plymouth, New Zealand
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in June 1987

Wendy Snowdon, aged 23, had her life brutally cut short by Gary McKinley when he attacked and raped her as she was jogging through a New Plymouth park.

On Friday, November 21, 1986, Wendy was planning to spend the day studying and had the day off from her job as assistant planner at Olex Cable Limited. She was taking a New Zealand Certificate of Engineering paper and her final exam was on Monday.

Determined to keep fit for the National Lifesaving Championships each year, she was an avid jogger. She had arranged to jog with a friend but at the last moment the friend was unable to make it and she went jogging on her own, for the first time. She planned to jog through Brooklands and Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, which back onto each other.

Around 10am she ran down the grass slope and into the Brooklands Park. It is believed that her assailant, Gary McKinley was hiding in bushes where several tracks converge together. Wendy according to Police would have been attacked by surprise and was knocked unconscious with a rock wielded by McKinley.

McKinley carried her body to a more remote location on the track and raped her. He then tried to strangle her and left her lying on the track thinking she was dead.

A person walking a dog, who heard noises coming from further along the track, found Wendy approximately twenty minutes later. She was rushed to Taranaki Base Hospital and placed in intensive care. She never regained consciousness. After an agonizing 16 days for family and friends, Wendy Snowdon, an attractive, outgoing woman, died of her injuries.

Police interviewed over 120 people who had been in the surrounding Brooklands Park area on the day Wendy was attacked. An Okato man was finally arrested and charged with Wendy’s murder. His name was Gary Lawrence McKinley, a 26-year-old unemployed machine operator. He had a record of past convictions including burglary, theft and aggravated assault.

When interviewed, McKinley said that he had been taken over by another personality. Psychiatric evaluation of him at Lake Alice Hospital found no evidence to support his claim.

Gary McKinley was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and six years jail for the rape charge in the Hamilton High Court on June 1987.

Notably, Wendy’s parents hold no malice for the man that took their daughter’s life; instead they have looked to their Christian faith to help heal their wounds – truly inspirational people.


Inmate savagely stabbed cellmate for scaring cat

Otago Daily Times

Fri, 31 Jul 2009

A Rimutaka Prison inmate who stabbed a fellow cellmate who had scared a stray cat he had befriended, could be sentenced to preventive detention, a judge ruled today.

Gary Lawrence McKinley was nearing the end of his prison term after serving more than 20 years of a murder life sentence, when he attacked cellmate Peter Biddle for scaring the feral cat.

On Boxing Day last year, McKinley stabbed Biddle twice in the neck and once in the chest with a 12cm kitchen knife as Biddle was watching Coronation Street.

He pleaded guilty in Upper Hutt District Court in June to grievous bodily harm.

At his sentencing in the Wellington District Court today, Crown prosecutor Michael Snape requested his sentencing be transferred to the High Court so a sentence of preventive detention could be considered.

The incident was of such a "violent nature" it required a broader sentencing option, Mr Snape said.

McKinley's lawyer Paul Paino opposed the request in written submissions.

But Judge Jan Kelly said the attack could warrant a sentence of preventive detention and ruled McKinley be remanded in custody until the case was heard in the High Court at Wellington on October 7.

The attack on Biddle was sparked after he entered the living room he shared with McKinley in the prison's minimum-security unit, startled the cat and caused it to scamper away.

McKinley later told a prison manager: "I would do anything to protect the cat, it's all I've got".

The two men were prisoners in the self-care unit used to prepare long-term inmates for release.

McKinley was originally jailed in 1987 for the rape and murder of 23-year-old New Plymouth jogger Wendy Snowdon.


Gary McKinley appears in the Wellington District Court on an assault charge after
attacking an immate at Rimutaka Prison over his cat.
Credit: NZPA / Andrew Labett



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