Real Life

Zara Schofield: Mum would have loved my baby boy

A gruesome murder tore Zara's family apart
Zara Schofield

Zara Schofield is besotted with her newborn son Regan. But she can’t shake off the feeling of sadness that her beloved mum, Katrina Drummond, never met the grandchild she had wanted for so long.

“My mum’s life ended as my son’s life began,” explains Zara, 26, cradling wee Regan, who was born at Waikato Hospital on January 31. “Mum would have loved you – yes, she would,” she whispers to her sleeping son.

Zara and her older sister Lana, 29, have to live with the knowledge that their father, Martin Schofield, murdered their mum, Katrina, 47, in the marital bedroom of the couple’s home in Taupo. During an argument on April 14 last year, Schofield crept up on Katrina and hit her seven times in the back of the head with a claw hammer, caving in nearly half her skull. He then carefully washed his hands, locked the back door and drove to the Taupo Police Station.

“He walked in and said, ‘I think I’ve killed my partner,’” reveals Zara, a chef who lives in Cambridge with Regan and her partner Keith Shine, 30. Zara says her parents, who met and married as teenagers, had a relationship built on fear. They had separated but reconciled about four years ago. Schofield controlled Katrina’s life – even down to the food she bought – but just before her death, she’d found the strength to tell him to leave. “Martin thought that if he couldn’t have her, no-one could,” claims Zara.

Although her mum wasn’t happy in her own life, says Zara, she found joy in her kids and was excited about the idea of one day becoming a gran. “She was always on my case, saying, ‘Come on, hurry up.’”

Tragically, Zara now knows baby Regan was conceived in the days leading up to her mother’s murder. She didn’t realise she was pregnant until after Katrina’s funeral.

“I like to think Mum’s up there watching me and Regan. But I would have loved to tell her I was pregnant myself. She would have been over the moon to be a grandmother.”

In the Rotorua High Court in September last year, Martin Schofield, a 51-year-old possum trapper, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 11 years. He had earlier pleaded guilty to murdering Katrina. Schofield has written to Zara and Lana from prison but has not yet apologised for taking their mother’s life. His letters were upbeat, comparing prison to a “Top 10 holiday park” and writing that he kept a photo of Katrina in his cell. Zara admits that for a long time, her father’s letters “ate her up”.

As well as Zara and Lana, Katrina also left behind a third daughter from another relationship, Casey Drummond, now 15. In a brave move, Zara decided to write back to Schofield on behalf of all of them. “After that, we never wanted to talk to him or see him again.”

Katrina (left) couldn’t wait to be a grandmother. Right: The mum-of-three with Martin Schofield on their wedding day.

Healing hearts

In the letter, the women told Schofield he had robbed them of a mother, best friend and future grandmother. “Katrina would move heaven and earth for us kids,” it read. “Mum had a grandchild on the way. It was the one thing she wanted, but she never had the privilege to know the baby.”

The letter explained how hard it was to tell their teenage sister Casey the painful truth of how her mum had been killed and told Schofield he could no longer hurt them. “Mum made us who we are and we are not going to let you break us down,” it said.

Zara says the gap left by her mother’s death is impossible to measure, but she often feels Katrina’s presence. “I see Regan staring into the distance and I say, ‘Who are are looking at, is that Nana?’” She relies on Lana the most these days. “She’s a great aunt to Regan. When she goes back home after a visit, she says she feels like she’s leaving a part of herself behind.”

In April, Lana is taking Casey on a trip to the US. It’s a bright point after a tough year, given the women are also in an ongoing financial battle with Schofield. From behind bars, he is fighting for half the value of the family home in Taupo, which was sold after Katrina’s murder. Zara and her sisters sold everything – right down to the toaster – to pay the outstanding bills and funeral costs.

Despite the hole in their lives, Zara says Katrina’s legacy is the three strong women who are determined to keep their mother’s memory alive. “I’m sad Mum never got to meet Regan. But I talk about her to him. She will always be a part of all of our lives.”

Zara with her partner Keith and their son Regan.

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