Taunts fail to stop trial

By Imran Ali


A High Court jury trial was interrupted but not aborted despite comments directed at some of the jurors outside the Whangarei law courts.

The context of what was said and by whom was not revealed by Justice Mark Woolford on Friday as the Crown and defence teams prepared for their closing addresses to the jury.

The judge told the jury in his summing up that steps had been taken to ensure what happened on the Thursday evening did not happen again. He said it was unfair to blame the accused in the trial for the "unfortunate incident".

The jury returned about 10pm on Friday with a majority guilty verdict against a Kaitaia man charged with abusing and assaulting his former partner, including locking her up in a shipping container. It took them about nine hours to arrive at their verdicts after retiring about 1pm.

They found the 28-year-old man guilty of injuring with intent to injure, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, four counts of assault with intent to injure, and two counts of unlawful detention.

Not guilty verdicts were returned on three charges - two counts of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection and injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Crown solicitor Mike Smith told the jury in his closing address that since there were two versions of a six-month relationship between the man and the complainant, they must bring their common sense to bear in deciding on the facts of the case.

He reminded the jury that it was not a trial about the evils of methamphetamine but mention of the drug during the trial formed background information to help them arrive at their verdicts.

Text messages from the man where he said sorry for hitting her and references to methamphetamine should be compared with the evidence before the court, Mr Smith said.

The man kicked her so hard it damaged her rib area and hit her so hard she saw stars, he submitted.

Defence lawyer Chris Muston said if the complainant was injured during the alleged assaults, a medical report would have been available. Her claim that she saw a doctor at Taumarunui was not backed up by any evidence, he said.

Mr Muston said there was no evidence from a third party that his client banged the complainant's head three times against concrete which could have potentially been fatal, as contended by the Crown.

He said the woman told a nurse she fell off a bike and got injured, did not go to police after claims of sexual abuse and denied she used methamphetamine.

The man has been remanded in custody for sentencing next month.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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