Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Motel killing: Jury begins deliberations

Leonard Nattrass-Berquist (left) and Beauen Wallace-Loretz stand in the dock at the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker
Leonard Nattrass-Berquist (left) and Beauen Wallace-Loretz stand in the dock at the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker

A jury has begun its deliberations in the case of two teens accused of beating and robbing a man at an Auckland motel.

Beauen Daniel George Wallace-Loretz and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist, both 18, are before the High Court at Auckland charged with the murder of 54-year-old Ihaia Gillman-Harris.

The alleged beating took place in an Epsom motel in the morning of December 27, 2014, after the victim had driven the teenagers around the city and provided them with booze.

The Crown accepted Mr Gillman-Harris's behaviour was "questionable" but emphasised this was not "a court of morality".

Ihaia Gillman-Harris. Photo / Supplied
Ihaia Gillman-Harris. Photo / Supplied

Justice Kit Toogood echoed those sentiments in summing up the case over the last two days.

He said jurors may find the victim's "unhealthy interest in boys and young men" abhorrent, but that would not help them adjudicate the facts.

The judge was similarly cautious about their approach to Wallace-Loretz and Nattrass-Berquist.

"You might be critical of them and those responsible for their care, but you'll also feel inevitable sympathy for the defendants and their families. These young men are facing the most serious of charges," Justice Toogood said.

"You will have had your emotions stirred. There's nothing wrong with that. It's what makes us human."

The Crown case is that the teenagers smuggled a bat into the motel room and beat the man to facilitate the theft of cash, a credit card, a phone and a Range Rover.

Prosecutor David Johnstone said the text messages exchanged between the defendants showed the plan to "roll" Mr Gillman-Harris was a "joint enterprise".

As well as the murder charge, the teens are jointly facing counts of theft and dishonestly taking a motor vehicle.

Justice Toogood told the jury it must come to independent verdicts on all six charges and just because one defendant was guilty or not guilty of an individual charge, it did not automatically mean the other was too.

The defence case is that Mr Gillman-Harris made a violent sexual advance towards Nattrass-Berquist.

Wallace-Loretz intervened, striking the victim over the head with a bottle - self defence, according to their lawyers.

Justice Toogood said anyone was justified in using force against someone in defence of themselves or another person if the force was reasonable in the circumstances as they believed them to be.

The burden was on the Crown to disprove that, the judge said.

"This is a tragic case in many respects. What happened in hotel room . . . will already have had a profound and everlasting effect on three families," he said.

"For them, whatever verdicts you reach, life will never be the same as it was on Christmas Day that year 2014."

- NZ Herald

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