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Friend of NZ man killed on flight MH17 says conviction has ‘been a long time coming’


Flowers left by parents of an Australian victim of the crash, laid on a piece of the wreckage in eastern Ukraine

Flowers left by parents of an Australian victim of the crash, laid on a piece of the wreckage in eastern Ukraine
Photo: AFP

A long-time friend of a New Zealand man killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was downed by a missile eight years ago says news of a murder conviction brings some closure.

Dutch judges have now convicted three men of murder and sentenced them to life in prison in absentia but are likely to go unpunished as they are thought to be in Russia, which won’t extradite them.

The plane, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July, 2014, killing all passengers and crew.

Bill Patterson told Morning Report the fact investigators pinned down the three people responsible brings a sense of closure after his friend Robert Ayley’s death.

“It was a bit of a shock, it’s been a long time coming,” Patterson said.

“I think total closure would be actually bringing those people to justice but I think it does bring a sense of closure in the fact that they’ve got right to the end of the story, right down to the very three people that were responsible so it does bring a type of closure for me, it may be different for others of course, the families and loved ones.”

Ayley and Patterson met through their a love of dogs – with the pair both rottweiler breeders.

140814. Photo Facebook. Britishborn Kiwi Rob Ayley, who died on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

140814. Photo Facebook. British-born Kiwi Rob Ayley, who died on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
Photo: Facebook

“He had a very good passion, he was very brave, wasn’t scared to go and do things.”

Ayley, 27, lived in Ōtaki on the Kāpiti Coast with his wife and two young sons.

“He was a very clever guy … lovely guy, very dedicated to what he was doing, was very well set on what he wanted to achieve.”

The pair had travelled through Europe together to look at rottweiler breeding programmes and went separate ways to travel home – Ayley boarded MH17.

Patterson got the news MH17 had been shot down when he landed in New Zealand.

He said he was often in contact with Ayley’s family and spent time with them a couple of months ago.

“They’re struggling of course, grandparents having to bring up children etc. But they’re getting through and doing the very very best they can and doing a great job as well.”

Mary Menke who was born in New Zealand but lived in Australia was also aboard the flight with her Dutch husband Gerry Menke.



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