Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Murder accused says he was framed

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A 62-year-old man is accused of stabbing to death a friend after they shared a roast dinner and sank a couple of bottles of wine and whisky at his home.

Anthony Ballantyne, 62, is before the High Court at Hamilton, charged with the murder of 76-year-old Ivan Peter Kapluggin in Whangamata on February 3 last year.

In his opening statement yesterday morning, Crown solicitor Ross Douch laid out the events of the evening which ended in a call from Ballantyne to 111 at 1.26am on February 3, saying Mr Kapluggin was lying dead in his hallway surrounded by a large pool of blood.

Mr Kapluggin arrived from Thailand on February 2 and was collected by his brother David from Auckland Airport before he met his friend Ballantyne at the BP service station in Waihi. He would be staying with his friend at his Achilles Ave home in Whangamata.

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UK passport-holder Mr Kapluggin lived two hours from Bangkok with his Thai wife and he was in New Zealand to sell a rental property he owned in Waikino.

Mr Douch said once back at Mr Ballantyne's home in Whangamata, the two had dinner together on the deck and drank two bottles of New Zealand wine, Glenfiddich whisky Mr Kapluggin had picked up duty-free and some of Ballantyne's own whisky.

Ballantyne told police he went to bed at 9.30pm and woke after 1am to find Mr Kapluggin dead.

After dialling 111, the accused couldn't answer the operator when she asked him his name; he just kept repeating that there was "blood everywhere".

The five recordings while he waited for police to arrive were played to the jury in the first day of the trial.

"I woke up. There's a dead body beside me. My friend, he's dead," a clearly distraught Ballantyne told the operator.

"I just woke up and he's dead. Blood everywhere. Blood everywhere."

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The accused originally told police interviewers he had no memory of the events leading to the death, but months later sent letters to police and other residents he believed were involved claiming some of his memory had returned and that he had been framed.

He named the killer as a Whangamata resident he occasionally cared for who had Parkinson's disease, and claimed he was framed by him and a young man living in the area.

However, Mr Douch claimed the information in the letters did not stack up and believes evidence including Mr Kapluggin's blood on the deck and smeared on a door showed signs of a struggle.

Mr Kapluggin was found with an 8cm chop wound on his head, a cut behind his left ear lobe, a stab wound on his neck, two stab wounds on his back and multiple cuts along the inside of his fingers described as defence wounds.

A knife was found under Mr Kapluggin's body and a meat cleaver with diluted blood found in the sink, but Mr Douch said no fingerprints were found on the weapons.

"If they were used, what you can say ladies and gentlemen is the killer did not leave any clues."

Ballantyne sat in the dock with his head bowed and fought back tears as his calls to the police 111 call centre were played to the jury.

Defence lawyer Thomas Sutcliffe told the jury it was up to them to decide whether his client killed Mr Kapluggin or whether it was somebody else and whether there was intent to kill.

Justice Tim Brewer urged the jury to keep an open mind until the end of the trial and hold no prejudice.

He said the jurors could talk to each other about the case, but no one else.

The jury is made up of seven women and five men. The trial has been set for two weeks.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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