Monica Cantwell murder: The day Mount Maunganui lost its innocence


Monica Cantwell didn’t have a chance. The English backpacker had been looking out to Matakana Island when Charles Coulam snuck up from behind, wrapped his arm around her throat and dragged her backwards into the bushes. Those terrifying moments were her last. The 24-year-old’s body was found raped and murdered three days later. The horror of the crime shook Mount Maunganui’s safe, seaside identity and has forever become etched in its history. Nearly 30 years later to the day Kiri Gillespie tracks down the then junior detectives who gained the killer’s confession and brought him to justice, the man using

The smoking gun

‘Young woodchuck’ and the moment everything changed

Catching a killer

Monica’s legacy

“It’s not so much about commemorating the event but taking the opportunity, domestic violence is still going on. Men in particular need to stand up and put their hand up. This is not good enough. We need to do something about that.”

Fate of a killer

Sir Ron stated in the decision that Coulam’s pornography viewing, especially that he subsequently tried removing this condition from his safety plan, was “concerning”. Despite this, the board will see him again in May 2020 to discuss his future.



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