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Murder-accused was ‘aunty’ to victim’s daughter

Monday 3 Dec 2012 10:53 p.m.

The daughter of slain Rotorua woman Michelle Hoffman-Tamm says her mother's accused killer was like an aunty to her and her children.

Gwenda Sloane, 44, appeared in the Rotorua court today where her assault charge was upgraded to murder.

Sloane entered the dock charged with assault, but within minutes stood accused of murder.

The process worker was arrested two weeks after 51-year-old Ms Hoffman-Tamm set off on her bike and never came home.

Her body was found in a forest near state highway 38 in Murupara, about 70km from Rotorua.

“It doesn't seem real… at all,” Monique Hoffman-Tamm says about her mother’s death.

She admits her mother had struggled with alcohol in the past but says she had cleaned up and was above all a mother and grandmother.

"Everything for her was more so about the kids. Being there for the kids, and she was loving being a nana, everyone that knew her knew those kids were everything to her."

The woman accused of killing Michelle Hoffman-Tamm was her best friend.

"She was like a whaea, aunty I suppose you could say,” Monique Hoffman-Tamm says. “She'd been there since before I was born, I grew up calling her aunty. My kids grew up calling her aunty.”

But today "aunty" was murder-accused.

Sloane was stood down to be assessed by a forensic nurse and when she was called back to the dock her lawyer Harry Edward said he wouldn't be seeking a psychiatric report.

"It’s a devastating event for both families and I think obviously they are going through a grieving phase,” Mr Edward says.

Sloane was remanded in custody until she reappears next Wednesday.

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