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



Corporal jailed after sexual attack on 'trashed' colleague

FACING DISMISSAL: A member of the Australian Defence Force has been jailed for sexual assault.

Jury finds Australian Defence Force member guilty of sexual assault

City View Hotel: From a pub to a backpackers

NEW LIFE: Hamish Parker has purchsed the City View Hotel and wants to turn it into an accomodation venue.

Architect picks up a little piece of history for a steal

Young woman and taxi driver robbed at knife point

Police suspect the two incidents may be linked

Latest deals and offers

Ipswich people love heritage

'It's a great vote of confidence for a program that was launched in 1992 and has since provided thousands of property owners with heritage conservation'


History comes alive at Back Plains celebration

Ian Mason wrote a book on the history of Back Plains and is launching it at a massive reunion event.

Reliving fascinating and rich history of Back Plains area

Love is in the air on The Bachelor, but not for Kiki

The Bachelor Australia contestant Kirralee 'Kiki' Morris.

BACHELORETTE bows out gracefully as show enters its final weeks.

A $65,000 bathroom? The Block's incredible budget blow-outs

The Block contestants Julia and Sasha spent a whopping $65,000 on their first renovated room.

TEAMS deliver most expensive en-suites in reno show's history.

Your guide to a great night out in Ipswich

Electronic duo Nocturnal Tapes, Lachie Mulligan on electronics and Harry Suttor on guitar and vocals, at their 2015 Dolphin Awards ceremony in Ballina.

Five-day gig guide to the best entertainment in Ipswich

Gympie Muster couch dumps down, but still a problem

TIPPING POINT: After an appalling year of couches being dumped at the end of the last Muster, festival organisers have taken litterbugs to task

EFFORTS to combat post-Muster couch dumping are proving effective

Cryptic crosswords: Top clues to solving them

Your guide to solving the cryptic crosswords in your local paper

How high? Twin 20-storey high-rises plan for "over 50s"

A development application has been lodged with the Fraser Coast Regional Council to build two skyscrapers in Hervey Bay.

Developer says Bay needs to move with the times.

City View Hotel: From a pub to a backpackers

NEW LIFE: Hamish Parker has purchsed the City View Hotel and wants to turn it into an accomodation venue.

Architect picks up a little piece of history for a steal

Pub's run-in with law

OLD LOOK: The City View Hotel in 1914.

Prohibition was an issue Ipswich's police officers took seriously

Selling City View was tough call

Former City View Hotel part-owner Wayne Patch.

Over the years there have been numerous proposals for the building

Bunnings starts demolition of historic foundry buildings

SAWTOOTH GONE: Demolition of Foundry sawtooth shed to make way for new Bunnings building.

Lane and footpath closures will take place

Australia's most expensive balcony and it hasn't been built

Viridian Noosa.

How Noosa millionares' squabble could affect body corporates