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Turangi petrol station killer, convicted after 30 years in high-profile cold case, has died

A Taupō man who spent years avoiding jail after shooting dead a petrol station attendant has died.

Menzies Reginald John Hallett Source: 1 NEWS

Menzies John Hallett was convicted of murdering Rodney Tahu in 2013 at the Rotorua High Court – more than 30 years after the crime was committed in Turangi.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections confirmed to 1 NEWS that Hallet died on Wednesday. 

He was in hospital at the time and "had been receiving treatment following a medical event", the spokesperson said.

Hallett was an inmate at Northland Region Corrections Facility.

Details which emerged during the trial painted a picture of the evening of August 16, 1979, when Hallett shot 31-year-old Mr Tahu at close range after Mr Tahu would not serve him - having closed the petrol station for the night.  

The high-profile case left many baffled as Hallett walked free due to a lack of evidence.

It was only due to a law change in 2006 allowing spouses to provide evidence against one another that led to a conviction.  

The Crown's key witness during the murder trial was Hallet’s ex-wife, Susan Sharpe, who claimed Hallett had admitted to killing Mr Tahu.  

Justice Duffy said Hallett had showed "little or no remorse" and was sentenced to life imprisonment.