Convicted murderer appears in lawyer's defence

By Edward Gay

Lawyer Davina Murray arrives at the Auckland District Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Lawyer Davina Murray arrives at the Auckland District Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Extra security guards were brought into Auckland District Court today as convicted rapist and murderer Liam Reid gave evidence in the defence of his lawyer.

Reid was flanked by security officers in the witness box, a third officer sat in the public gallery and a police officer guarded the door of the court as Reid gave evidence.

The unusual turn of events have come about after his lawyer Davina Murray was charged with smuggling an iPhone and cigarettes to Reid.

A second charge of passing on information which endangered the safety of a prisoner was dismissed after the Crown conceded the charge was laid outside the six-month time limit.

Reid's evidence cannot be reported until Judge Russell Collins decides whether it can be accepted as part of the trial.

There was a packed public gallery as lawyers and media vied for seats.

A staff member from private prison operator Serco, an intelligence officer from Corrections who monitored calls and the investigating police officer also gave evidence.

Suppression orders prevent APNZ from reporting their evidence also.

Seven of the 22 phone calls between Murray and Reid have been played at the Auckland District Court but APNZ is also prohibited from reporting their content.

Murray says the calls are privileged because she was acting as Reid's lawyer at the time.

Crown prosecutor Anna Longdill says the subject of the calls are not legal advice and therefore are not confidential.

Much of of hearing so far has been taken up with legal arguments about what can or cannot be used as evidence in the trial.

Murray is being aided in court by her former boss Barry Hart, who was struck off the Law Society's register after a 46-year career.

Hart is acting in a role known as a McKenzie friend. He is allowed to pass notes, suggest questions and provide general support to his former junior lawyer.

The defended hearing, before Judge Collins, is expected to last five days and to hear evidence from high-security prisoners, including Reid.

Reid is serving a 23-year sentence for raping and killing deaf woman Emma Agnew in Christchurch in 2007, and the rape, attempted murder and robbery of a 21-year-old student in Dunedin nine days later.

- APNZ

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