McKinnon murder trial to be set

A New Zealand man accused of the murder of Australian Sean McKinnon will get a trial date this week.
A New Zealand man accused of the murder of Australian Sean McKinnon will get a trial date this week.

The New Zealand man charged with murdering Australian surfer Sean McKinnon will receive a trial date this week.

The High Court in Hamilton will set a time for the case to be heard on Tuesday, but the alleged killer won't be present to learn it.

Citing mental health concerns, the man's lawyers applied to Justice Lang, who will hear the matter, to excuse him from attending.

Those same reasons will see the man's identity continue to be suppressed.

Mr McKinnon was killed last month in the mellow seaside town of Raglan, a popular spot with surfers in the Waikato region of the North Island.

He was sleeping alongside his Canadian fiancee Bianca Buckley in their campervan early in the morning of August 16 when he was shot.

Ms Buckley fled to a nearby farmhouse during the night to seek help, as the accused drove away in the campervan with Mr McKinnon's body still inside.

The 23-year-old accused eventually abandoned the vehicle, and was apprehended the next day.

Mr McKinnon was laid to rest at a funeral in Warrnambool, near his home town of Nirranda, a fortnight ago.

Ms Buckley said at the funeral that Mr McKinnon "taught me how to love unconditionally".

"He was so extraordinary he almost couldn't belong to this world," she said, as quoted in the Warrnambool Standard.

"Thank you for choosing me to walk alongside you on this earth."

Mr McKinnon, 33, was cheered away from the funeral, taking his last journey in his much-loved Kombi van to the Warrnambool cemetery.

Australian Associated Press