BOP man pleads guilty for death of wife

File photo.

A man phoned police to tell them he'd killed his estranged wife, then lay in front of an oncoming logging truck waiting to die.

On July 12, Bay of Plenty man Michael Edward Douthett pleaded guilty to murdering his wife, Patricia Wallis, after months of pleading not guilty.

The pair had separated in early 2018 and Douthett told police she was hindering efforts to sell their farm south of Rotorua, a summary of facts released on Wednesday reveals.

It was November 26, 2018, when "it all got too much and I shot her", he told the police.

Almost eight months later, he was convicted of one charge of murder and one of dangerous driving in the High Court at Rotorua, after a sudden plea change.

During the court process, Douthett was subject to numerous psychiatric reports into his mental health and whether he was fit to stand trial for the murder.

Immediately after shooting Wallis, he rang police to confess, then tried twice to kill himself on the roads between the farm and the Rotorua Police Station.

On the morning he murdered Wallis, she was at the family farm in Ngakuru, south of Rotorua - she returned three to four times a week to help run it.

After 20 years of marriage, they were working through selling the farm and splitting their property.

Douthett was in charge, and found it "a major source of frustration" because he didn't feel Wallis was cooperating as he needed.

He was having a cup of coffee at the dining room table when she arrived around 6am.

She put on her gumboots and headed to the milking shed.

"The defendant greeted her, but she did not reply," the summary of facts notes.

Douthett waited for his 17-year-old son to go to work, had a shower, loaded his .22 bolt action rifle and hid it under blankets on the bed.

He had just made another coffee when Wallis came back and headed into the office.

When she didn't return his greeting, he got the rifle, walked to the office door, and shot her in the head.

He then reloaded and shot her again, the summary of facts details.

He dropped the rifle in the hallway, and rang police to say "I have murdered my wife, I shot her".

A brief talk to the call taker ensued, but he then put the phone down, got into this Toyota Land Cruiser and drove towards Rotorua.

"On State Highway 30 the defendant drove his vehicle into the front of a logging truck in an attempt to end his life. He suffered no injuries. He abandoned his vehicle and began walking toward Rotorua," the summary says.

"He saw another truck approaching and lay on the road in front of it. The truck braked heavily and avoided the defendant. The defendant got up and continued to walk toward Rotorua."

He was then picked up by someone he knew, and he asked that person to take him to the police station.

"Upon arriving at the Rotorua Police Station, the defendant saw Constable Allen and told him 'I have just killed my wife'."

In explanation, he said he was having trouble with the sale of the farm and that Wallis "kept throwing a spanner in the works", the summary says.

"Today it all got too much, and I shot her."

Douthett has been remanded in custody for sentencing on August 29.

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