Rakuraku denies having taiaha

By Doug Laing

Johnny Wright
Johnny Wright

Murder-accused Steven Tewini Rakuraku yesterday denied he had a taiaha in the house where a girlfriend has claimed he attacked his victim in Hastings three years ago.

The 39-year-old Rakuraku made his denial as he opened his defence in the third week of a trial in which he denies murdering Johnny Charles Wright, who was 50 when he died about June 21, 2011.

A taiaha was a "treasure" of his ancestors and he would never use such a weapon to beat a friend, he said.

It came during questioning in the High Court in Napier by Russell Fairbrother QC, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist the court after Rakuraku turned down his representation as the trial was starting on June 4.

Rakuraku is accused of beating Mr Wright to death but said yesterday he found the man dead one morning, and that when he had seen him the previous night he had no signs of injuries to his face and body.

He told Justice Joe Williams and a jury he had not caused the multiple rib fractures discovered by a pathologist after the body of Mr Wright was found where it had been buried by Rakuraku near Eskdale.

Having pleaded not guilty to murder, Rakuraku was however emotional as he gave evidence yesterday and told of his wretchedness as he buried Mr Wright, who was not found until two months after he was last known to have been seen alive.

Rakuraku finished giving evidence late yesterday and further defence evidence will be given today.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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