Garry John Jones died this morning. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Garry John Jones died this morning. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Crash victim was on trial for sex offences

A former Whakatane man has died in a motorcycle crash while in the middle of a High Court trial where he faced 49 sex offence charges relating to young girls.

Garry John Jones, 64, from Auckland, a former Mr New Zealand and Whakatane gym owner, died this morning in a motorcycle crash near Huntly.

His trial started in the High Court at Hamilton on Monday last week and was due to finish next week.

The crash happened on State Highway 1 at Rangiriri.

Senior Sergeant Peter van de Wettering of the Waikato Police District Command Centre said police initially thought Jones had collided with a median barrier.

However, a truck driver had since told police he looked in his rear view mirror and saw a motorcyclist tumbling down the road.

"The truck driver stopped further up the road and called police and thought he might have been involved in a crash because he saw in his wing mirror a motorcyclist tumbling down the road.

"It appears that the deceased has collided with his motorcycle with the back end of the truck and trailer unit.

"The truck driver would not have felt a thing. If it weren't for him looking in his wing mirror we might never have known that.

"It was fortunate for us and his family that he saw that and rang it in. It has not been left as a mystery as to how this man has fallen off his bike."

Mr van de Wettering said police were appealing to members of the public who might have seen the incident.

"The case will be referred to the coroner but it is still under investigation by our traffic unit at Huntly who will be working with the coroner to establish the cause of death and why and how this happened."

Jones' charges relate to offending in the 1970s and 1980s in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. His victims were aged between 5 and 16 at the time.

Crown prosecutor Greg Hollister-Jones said today the Crown had now dropped all charges.

Jones' lawyer Tiffany Cooper said she heard about Jones' death a couple of hours after the crash.

"He died tragically this morning. We were just notified."

Jones, who was Mr New Zealand between 1997 and 1999, owned Sunny Gymz in Whakatane before moving to Auckland.

Victims rights campaigner Louise Nicholas from Rotorua supported the women involved in the trial.