Guilty verdict in throat-slitting trial

Kapiti-Mana District Commander Inspector Paul Basham during a press conference at Penguin Grove, Porirua, after the alleged incident. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Kapiti-Mana District Commander Inspector Paul Basham during a press conference at Penguin Grove, Porirua, after the alleged incident. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A man has been found guilty of attempted murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after cutting a woman's throat and assaulting another with a hammer.

Ruka Hemopo, 48, has been standing trial in the High Court at Wellington, after an altercation with two women at a house in Porirua last year.

The jury of eight women and four men took just under four hours to reach its verdict.

Hemopo was found not guilty of threatening to kill.

Crown prosecutor Grant Burston said Hemopo was upset that morning because the women and other relatives were going to a tangi without him, and there were no cigarettes.

He attacked the women in a lounge, hitting one with a hammer, and later cut the other woman's throat with a knife in the bedroom.

Summing up for the jury this afternoon, Justice Stephen Kos said the Crown's case was that the women's evidence was truthful and was backed up by evidence including a police taser video and a 111 call.

The defence case was that the Crown's evidence was not strong enough to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt.

Hemopo invited the jury to consider the alternative story that the women had attacked him.

He challenged the truthfulness of the women's evidence, suggested there were inconsistencies, and pointed to a lack of fingerprint evidence on the knife.

Hemopo also suggested the woman's knife wounds were consistent with being self-inflicted, and the taser video showed him steadying himself rather than trying to stab the woman.

Justice Kos said the Crown had to prove each charge beyond reasonable doubt.

On the attempted murder count, the jury had to be satisfied Hemopo had wounded the woman with a knife, and that he did so intending to kill her.

Hemopo defended himself with lawyer Val Nisbet appointed as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court.

Closing his case this morning, Hemopo told the jury the charges were "ridiculous" and he vigorously denied them. He did not give evidence at trial.

Closing the Crown case, Mr Burston said the women had been sleeping in the lounge when Hemopo entered the room and demanded cigarettes.

The women said they had none, and one woman made a comment about Hemopo smoking all the cigarettes which "set him off", Mr Burston said.

Hemopo attacked the women and hit one of them with the hammer. That woman suffered a fractured elbow, a fractured shoulder blade, an injured spine and a cut on her arm.

She was able to escape and call police, but Hemopo took the other woman into a bedroom where he cut her throat with a knife and then cut his own throat.

Police entered the room and, seeing Hemopo trying to stab the woman with the knife, shot and tasered him.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 17 Sep 2014 00:26:35 Processing Time: 292ms