Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Whangamata murder trial: 'I woke up, there's a dead body beside me'

A naked man lay near the doorway of his property making large "labouring and sobbing" noises as Police approached the Achilles Rd address where Ivan Peter Kapluggin was found dead.

Sergeant Craig Gilbert said 62-year-old murder accused Anthony Ballantyne "slid and crawled" down the steps of his Achilles Ave house in Whangamata when he called for him to come out.

"When I looked through that door I could see a male person who appeared to be naked lying on the floor moving and he appeared to be making a noise," Mr Gilbert told the jury this afternoon.

He and Whangamata constable Jayne Dowling assisted Ballantyne to his feet and he told them he could not breathe and had asthma. He was still wailing and gasping.

She then walked him around the corner to meet waiting St John Ambulance staff.

St John volunteer ambulance officer Eden Bray said she saw a naked man walking stiffly towards them being assisted by constable Dowling as he appeared to be having difficulty walking. Another ambulance officer Pauline Davison said he was walking pigeon-toed with his arms out and was hyperventilating.

Ambulance staff assessed Ballantyne who had a small superficial cut on his hand and dried blood. On further examination he also had a small graze on one knee which she said looked like a carpet burn and had dried blood which was on his cheek, nose, leg and splatters of blood on and underneath his foot.

He then turned the palms of his hands with the cut to them and said "don't you want to take photos of this for evidence" and kept repeating it.

Ms Bray said Ballantyne also demanded ambulance staff take a blood alcohol level test but it was out of their capacity and the police officer did not have the means in the ambulance.

"He was angry, demanding and aggressive at the time."

Unprompted Ballantyne also kept repeating "there was a dead body in his house and he wanted to know why", she said.

Ms Davison said Ballantyne lay on the stretcher in the ambulance and had an "episode where he was unresponsive". He was not answering question and "appearing to be faking unconsciousness".

Defence lawyer Mr Sutcliffe asked whether these were the same signs as someone in shock to which she replied it could be but told the Crown, "I choose that he was deciding not to answer our questions."

At the Whangamata police station, Ballantyne continued to ask how Mr Kapluggin had died. He said the last he remembered was drinking a bottle of 12-year-old Glenfiddich whisky and waking up beside a dead man.

"I cooked him a meal of oysters and mussels." He told Ms Dowling they drank two bottles of sparkling wine, a bottle of Glenfiddich and had opened another bottle of whisky but only had a couple of glasses.

He recalled telling Mr Kapluggin "one more for the road", but said his memory was blank after that.

"I woke up on the floor naked. I was wearing a sarong but I was naked.

"I just thought what the f***."

It was slimy and when he looked at the victim he was white and he knew he was dead, he said.

The jury today heard from the first seven of 32 witnesses.

'I woke up, there's a dead body beside me'

Earlier, in his opening statement this morning crown solicitor Ross Douch laid out the events of the evening which ended in a call from Ballantyne to 111 at 1.26am on February 3 saying Mr Kapluggin was lying dead in his hallway surrounded by a large pool of blood.

Mr Kapluggin arrived from Thailand on February 2 and was collected by his brother David from Auckland Airport before he met his friend Ballantyne at the BP service station in Waihi so he could go and stay with him at his Achilles Ave home in Whangamata.

UK passport-holder Mr Kapluggin lived two hours from Bangkok with his Thai wife and he was in New Zealand to sell a rental property he owned in Waikino.

Ballantyne told police he went to bed at 9.30pm and woke after 1am to find Mr Kapluggin dead.

The accused originally told police interviewers he had no memory of the events leading to his death, but months later, sent letters to police and other residents he believed were involved claiming some of his memory had returned and that he had been framed. He named the killer as a Whangamata resident he occasionally cared for who had Parkinson's disease and claimed he was framed by him and another young man living in the area.

However, Mr Douch claimed the information in the letters did not stack up and believes the evidence including Mr Kapluggin's blood on the deck and smeared on a door showed signs of a struggle.

Mr Kapluggin was found with an 8cm chop wound on his head, a cut behind his left ear lobe, a stab wound on his neck, a cut on the back of his knife, two stab wounds on his back and multiple cuts along the inside of his fingers described as "defence wounds".

A knife was found under Mr Kapluggin's body and a meat cleaver with diluted blood found in the sink, but Mr Douch said no finger prints were found on the weapons.
"If they were used, what you can say ladies and gentlemen is the killer did not leave any clues."

Ballantyne sat in the dock with head head bowed and fought back tears as his calls with the police 111 call centre were replayed to the jury.

Defence lawyer Thomas Sutcliffe told the jury it was up to them to decide whether his client killed Mr Kapluggin or whether it was somebody else and whether there was intent to kill.

Justice Tim Brewer urged the jury to keep an open mind until the end of the trial and hold no prejudice. He said the jurors could talk to each other about the case, but no one else.
The jury is made up of seven women and five men. The trial has been set for two weeks.

"Body. Dead. Here. Now."

They were the first words Anthony Ballantyne breathed into the phone when he called a 111 operator at 1.26am on February 3 2015 to tell them Mr Kupluggin was lying dead in his house.

The murder accused couldn't answer the operator when she asked him his name, he just kept repeating that there was "blood everywhere".The five recordings were replayed to the jury in the first day of the trial while he waited for Police to arrive."I woke up. There's a dead body beside me. My friend he's dead," a clearly distraught Ballantyne told the operator.

"I just woke up and he's dead. Blood everywhere. Blood everywhere."

The operator repeated a question, but he replied through sobs: "No you come here. Blood everywhere."

As the pair spoke to each other for what seemed to be almost an hour before police arrived, the operator managed to hear from Ballantyne that his friend had been planning to stay the night and he was visiting from overseas.

During some of the conversations, the phone line went quiet and the jury could hear Ballantyne sobbing through the phone. There were several recordings because Ballantyne would hang up and the operator called him back.

The operator suggested that the pool of blood may have been caused by a haemorrhage to which Ballantyne replied there was a knife.

When she asked how he knew he simply replied that it was missing from the knife block in the kitchen and told her he had cuts to his own hands.

Later, as the conversation continued, the operator told Ballantyne to put the phone down while he went to the toilet.

He replied: "I don't want to walk over the body."

The call finally ended when Ballantyne was told police had arrived and would be approaching.

- NZ Herald

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