Warning for jury in manslaughter trial

Juliette Anne Gerbes, charged with stabbing boyfriend.
Juliette Anne Gerbes, charged with stabbing boyfriend.

A jury in a trial in which a Hastings woman is charged with the manslaughter of her boyfriend has been told by a judge to ignore the fact that it is a retrial.

The warning came from Justice Lowell Goddard yesterday in the High Court in Napier at the start of the second trial of Juliette Anne Gerbes, who turns 22 next week and who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter by assaulting boyfriend Christopher Robin Jones.

Mr Jones was 22 when he died after being stabbed early on the morning of October 13, 2012, in the flat the couple shared with three other people in King St, Hastings.

Justice Goddard did not explain why it is a retrial but told the jury of eight women and four men the reasons are irrelevant and they are to decide the case only on what they see and hear in court.

It is expected to last three days, with Crown prosecutors Clayton Walker and Megan Mitchell expecting to to call seven witnesses, including three others who were in the flat, along with three police officers and a pathologist.

Defence counsel Eric Forster and Nicola Graham expect to call three witnesses, Mr Forster said.

He said Gerbes accepts it was she who picked up a knife from a kitchen bench as the couple argued moments before a 15cm wound was inflicted to Mr Jones' upper abdomen.

The attack severed two crucial blood vessels causing his eventual death from the bleeding that followed.

They had exchanged slaps and punches earlier but Gerbes said she picked up the knife to defend herself and had no intention of stabbing her boyfriend, both the prosecution and defence told the jury.

Gerbes claimed that while she did not know exactly what happened at the moment the wound was inflicted she said Mr Jones had pulled the knife towards himself.

"The defence position is that she did not stab him, that he pulled the knife into himself, either accidentally or intentionally," Mr Walker said.

"The Crown does not accept that version," he said, adding that the angle of the wound did not fit with her claim, which was made in an interview with police and in a re-enactment in the flat, both of which were recorded and are being played to the jury during the trial.

He said the couple had been in a relationship about 17 months, but there had been "ups and downs," some more violent than others, and it had gone both ways.

"Ms Gerbes was willing to stand-up for herself," Mr Walker said.

The incident in which Mr Jones was stabbed started with an argument while the couple was in bed after a night out and according to Gerbes, Mr Walker said, happened in the lounge after she tried to lock Mr Jones out when said he was going out to another bar to find another woman, Gerbes told police.

- Hawkes Bay Today

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 28 Dec 2014 12:20:42 Processing Time: 623ms