Sept. 9, 2013
For 33 years, Menzies Hallett got away with murder because a New Zealand law prohibited Hallett’s wife from testifying against him without his permission.
by Lisa Agnes
By all accounts, Menzies Hallett was an affable, confident family man who got along with everyone. Yet it only took one anxiety-laden night in mid 1979 for this persona to dramatically unravel, revealing a conflicted, angry man.
New Zealand, in 1979, was not a place known for random acts of violence. The volcanic plateau situated in the middle of the North Island offered stable employment opportunities and a relatively idyllic way of life. But crimes motivated by passionate emotions can explode anywhere. On August 16, Hallett received a letter from his estranged wife denying him custody of their two daughters, prompting him to ring her and threaten to "come down and sort it out."
According to a friend who was with Hallett at the house of his girlfriend later that evening, Hallett had a revolver tucked into the waistbelt of his trousers. At one point, he pointed to a ceramic pot in the kitchen and asked his girlfriend, Margaret Culkin, whether she valued it. Before she could answer he had drawn the pistol and fired, missed, then fired again, destroying the pot and leaving his girlfriend reeling. "I remember there was the television there and I think I collapsed over it," she said. "I didn't know what was going on. I was in shock." Hallett then left in his Ford Falcon 500, intent on some kind of showdown.