Honeymoon murder rial: Man told police he cuddled dead wife after she was strangled

A man who strangled his wife did not attempt to resuscitate her, despite a plea from a woman he phoned just after the strangulation.

Instead, Rodney Fallowfield picked up his wife’s limp body, put her to bed, tucked her in and cuddled her for about half an hour, telling her he was sorry, jurors in the High Court at Invercargill heard yesterday.

Fallowfield, unemployed of Balclutha, appeared before Justice Jan-Marie Doogue on day three of the trial where he is defending a charge of murdering Shirley Reedy at the Explorer Motel in Te Anau on May 15, 2020.

Although the 53-year-old admits strangling her, his defence is he did not intend to.

Yesterday, the woman, who was given name suppression, said Fallowfield and Reedy came to lunch at her Tuatapere home on the way to Te Anau on the day Reedy died.

At the time the couple seemed happy, she said.

“They were excited to be getting away for a night in a motel.”

At 4.53pm the same day, the woman received a call from Fallowfield in Te Anau who told her Reedy was dead.

“He was crying and sounded quite frantic and upset.”

She asked him to perform CPR on Reedy.

“He said, ‘It’s too late, she’s gone’,” the woman said.

Fallowfield then told her he would drive back to her house in Tuatapere and hand himself in.

Crown prosecutor Sarah McKenzie asked the woman what she noticed about Fallowfield’s appearance when he arrived at her house.

“He had blood on his fingers and blood on his face what looked like a bite mark, but it wasn’t.”

In a police interview conducted by Detective Sergeant Dave Kennelly at the Invercargill Police Station early on May 16, Fallowfield said the couple’s night away in Te Anau was to celebrate how well they had been getting on lately.

Things started getting “shaky” on their return from a walk, Fallowfield said.

He became upset when Reedy said she was going to accuse him of rape again.

He said he was triggered when she kept repeating the word rape.

“I just wanted her to be quiet. I don’t like the evil word rape. I just wanted her to be quiet.”

After strangling her he did not check for signs of life, instead tucking her into bed, he said.

“How long after that did you leave the motel,” Kennelly asked.

“About 20 minutes to half an hour,” Fallowfield replied.

“What did you do in that time?”

“I cuddled her,” Fallowfield had said.

He said scratches and abrasions on his hands were probably from Reedy.

He told Kennelly that Reedy was a schizophrenic who had made a previous false claim about him raping her and as a result a non-association order was issued. However, the couple had continued to see each other, Reedy mainly living at his house.

The trial continues today.

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