News

Top cop sees wife, mate drown before daughter's wedding

Ara Tapu near Vaimaanga, where Judith Palmer and Robert Groves drowned. Her daughter Vanessa Palmer and Rhys Woodgerwere (pictured) to have been married yesterday. Photo / Supplied
Ara Tapu near Vaimaanga, where Judith Palmer and Robert Groves drowned. Her daughter Vanessa Palmer and Rhys Woodgerwere (pictured) to have been married yesterday. Photo / Supplied

NEW Zealand's longest-serving police officer saw his wife and best mate drown the day before his daughter's wedding in Rarotonga.

Yesterday, instead of walking daughter Vanessa up the aisle, Chief Inspector John Palmer was consoling her as they grieved for Judith Lorraine Palmer, known as Judy.

Mrs Palmer, 62, had been swimming in a lagoon at Vaimaanga when she got into trouble. Robert Groves, a close family friend and neighbour, tried to help but both drowned.

Mr Palmer was at the lagoon and is said to be devastated. He and Mrs Palmer had been married for 42 years and the couple had been planning the trip to the Cook Islands, where Vanessa and her partner Rhys Woodger live, for months.

He was too upset to speak to the Herald last night, but issued a statement through a family spokesman.

"He doesn't want to answer any questions about this tragedy," Bob Palmer said.

"He just wants to basically acknowledge the support extended over here. John, Vanessa and his family are devastated by the tragic events which resulted in the loss of a loving wife, mother and sister.

"John and his family have been overwhelmed by the support and love extended them by the greater New Zealand police family.

"Our sincere thanks also go to the New Zealand High Commissioner and his team at Rarotonga for their support.

"The support from the Rarotongan community and John and Vanessa's friends and family has been outstanding and is a great comfort to us all as we deal with this tragedy."

The wedding was postponed. It is expected the bodies will be brought back to Auckland for funeral services.

It is understood Mr Groves' wife, Mary, is also in Rarotonga.

Locals recovered the bodies from the lagoon, near where the group were staying for the wedding, about an hour after the pair drowned.

Mr Palmer has been a police officer for almost 47 years, mostly in Auckland. He is the only remaining chief inspector in New Zealand.

Auckland City district commander Superintendent Mike Clement said the double tragedy had hit Mr Palmer and his wider family "hard".

"We are all reeling from the news and can only imagine the magnitude of the devastation John, his family and the Groves family are feeling," Mr Clement said.

"I know personally that the trip to Rarotonga for Vanessa's wedding was to be the highlight of the year for John and Judy and that much planning and anticipation surrounded it.

"I and Commissioner Peter Marshall have spoken with John on several occasions in the past 24 hours and have offered our absolute support and assistance to help him, his daughter and their friends through this very distressing time."

Topics:  editors picks, new zealand, tragedy, weddings



Flashback: A more romantic time when ballroom was king

Joan Gauldie

A new series sharing tales from Ipswich's older generation

Backpacker tax scrapped as changes bite on farmers

Rob Bauer of Bauer's Organic Farm. The farm has launched a paddock-to-plate online shop. Photo: LucyRC Photography

Region's farmers still unhappy with decision

Get ready to say goodbye to another Aussie icon

Say goodbye to the iconic Sunnyboy iceblock.

Nostalgic ice blocks will be sold no more

Local Partners

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Housing report points to a lift in local market

AFFORDABLE HOMES: First home buyers have the opportunity to purchase modern new homes in the Ipswich region for under $400,000.

Region shaping up as the "final frontier” for affordable housing

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Investors out-bid first-home buyers in booming market

Housing generic.

Ipswich's housing market is putting more cash into sellers’ pockets

Another Ripley development

THE ENTRANCE: An overview of the last planned development for the fast growing Ripley area.

85 more home lots released

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.