Convicted murderer files appeal

By Mike Dinsdale


For the second year in a row, Auckland mum Zelma Davis is facing a Christmas ruined by the man convicted of killing her son.

Ms Davis is "gutted" that Wayne Bracken - described by a judge as "dangerous and evil" - has appealed against his conviction and 21-year minimum non-parole jail sentence handed out in the High Court at Whangarei in November.

After a seven-week trial, Bracken was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Aucklander Jack Davis on February 25, 2011, as well as on charges of aggravated robbery, assault with intent to injure, and burglary.

His co-accused in the death of Mr Davis, Neville Dangen, 24, from Kaeo, was found not guilty of the charges. Mr Dangen was not involved in the aggravated robbery.

The jury had heard that Bracken had Davis hogtied, left him tied up in a woolshed for about 20 hours, then beat him to death with a thistle grubber, before leaving his body down a ravine off isolated Salvation Rd, near Kaeo.

Bracken got life imprisonment with a minimum 21-year non-parole period - the toughest sentence ever handed down in Northland - but he has appealed to the Court of Appeal, which said a date to hear the appeal would not be set until February at the earliest.

Ms Davis said the appeal had rocked her.

The family had for the first time not celebrated Christmas last year because of the loss of Jack.

"We didn't put a Christmas tree up for the first time ever. We couldn't celebrate it," Ms Davis said.

"We have this year and were going to have a full-on, old-fashioned Christmas.

"I'm gutted this [appeal] has come before Christmas and I hope it doesn't ruin it again for us.

"But justice will prevail and we won't let him spoil it."

She said sitting through the seven-week trial had been traumatic for her, particularly having to hear the gruesome details of her beloved son's death, but she would be at any appeal hearing to represent her son.

"The appeal wasn't unexpected ...

"It's laughable that he can even make an appeal and, I while I don't want to have to go through the torture of sitting through another trial, I will.

"I'm not going to let him get one over our family like this."

Bracken's grounds of appeal include that his trial lawyer made an omission while representing him; the trial judge Justice Edwin Wylie allowed a statement to be read to the jury that the defence says should not have been allowed; the judge erred on a question of law; there was insufficient evidence to convict him; and that he was not represented by a lawyer at his sentencing.

Bracken sacked his lawyer on the morning of the sentencing but Justice Wylie ruled that the sentencing should still go ahead.

- Northern Advocate

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