news

"He is the light and love of my life." After her fiance was murdered, Bianca ran for help.

Australian tourist Sean McKinnon and his fiancé Bianca were fast asleep in their rented campervan.

Both keen surfers, they’d been soaking up the sights of the popular surf town of Raglan on their New Zealand holiday. They’d parked their Apollo van in the Te Toto track carpark mere meters from the water’s edge, no doubt to give themselves easy access to the notoriously good swell.

But in the early hours of Friday morning, the couple awoke to a gunman knocking on their window.

Sean McKinnon’s friends are struggling to deal with his death. Post continues after video.

Video by 9News

He demanded the keys to their vehicle before letting off a few shots, killing McKinnon – a 33-year-old surfer and musician from Victoria.

His terrified fiancé managed to escape, the ABC reports she ran for more than six kilometres in the darkness through rugged bush in search of help. Eventually she stumbled on a farm house who heard her screams. The couple who lived there invited her in and sat with her while she called police.

“She heard creaks and thought they were car noises of the guy coming back to try and get her,” the homeowner recalled.

“In the light of the situation — yeah of such a heinous act, she was brave, man, real brave,” he told the publication.

The gunman drove the campervan with her boyfriend’s body inside it for an hour, dumping it near Hamilton which is more than 80km away.

ADVERTISEMENT

After more than 24 hours of searching, late on Saturday night a 23-year-old was arrested and charged with murder. He was allegedly spotted by neighbours running through the countryside, before attempting to climb into a woman’s car and hiding out in a primary school.

He has already appeared in court and has been remanded in custody. He has been granted an interim name suppression and won’t appear again until August 27.

Outside court McKinnon’s devastated family (who flew over immediately) commented that they didn’t know how they were going to “put their life back together”.

McKinnon’s sister Emmeline told reporters, “the worst thing was telling my mother,” adding that her brother’s fiancé had been “amazingly resilient and strong”.

“I cannot even begin to understand what she’s gone through. She’s a really strong young woman. We’re just really glad she’s alive.”

In a statement to 9news, Buckley has described her husband-to-be as “The light and love of my life. My greatest teacher. My protector”. She also told the network she was determined to see justice served.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buckley is originally from Canada and had been working as a midwife in New Zealand since the start of the year, her Aussie fiancé had joined her for a short surfing holiday.

She and McKinnon, who is from Warrnambool, got engaged around Christmas 2017.

Police are still searching for the murder weapon and are appealing for dashcam footage and fellow travellers in the area who might have seen something. New Zealand is currently in the midst of a nationwide gun buyback program in the wake of the Christchurch massacre. 10,000 firearms have been surrendered to police.

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said Buckley remained shocked and traumatised from her ordeal.
Bee CJ B.
Sean and Bianca were on a surfing holiday when a gunman woke them up in the early hours of the morning and started shooting. Image: Facebook/Bee CJ B.

"She is thankful that an arrest within a 24-hour period has occurred and we're working with her and her family, and we'll continue to be in touch with her around her welfare," he said.

Friends have shared their shock at McKinnon's death, flooding his social media accounts with comments.

"As Kiwis we are saddened and ashamed of what has happened to Sean," one woman wrote on his page.

"He was a loveable, knockabout Aussie guy," his friend Julian Smith said.

Others were quick to describe him as a "genuine gentleman" with a "heart of gold".

With AAP.

00:00 / ???