A lack of the evidence against one of the accused in a kidnapping trial is the crux of his defence, his lawyer has told a jury in the High Court at Rotorua.
Benjamin Dwyer, 28, is on trial with eight others, who have pleaded not guilty to 62 charges, laid either separately or jointly. These include kidnapping a wealthy businessman and his maintenance worker in February last year. The other defendants are Stephen William Daly, 33, Jordan Alexander Christian, 21, David Peter Clark, 36, Brent Anthony Gunning, 37, Liam John Kane, 24, Matthew John McDonnell, 45, Stacy Walton Dennis Paora, 29, and Sam Wiremu Rolleston 23. All have links with the Head Hunters gang.
One of the charges Dwyer faces is robbing the businessman's girlfriend of her cellphone a month earlier.
Mr Rickard-Simms said while Dwyer didn't resile from going to her apartment looking for the cellphone she'd handed it over, after initially prevaricating.
Dwyer had wanted it because of photographs she'd taken on board the businessman's launch where Dwyer's partner had been injured.
Referring to the woman's account of her encounter with Dwyer, the lawyer said her judgement had been impaired by using P in conjunction with prescribed medication. He said Dwyer's involvement ended at the apartment, he had not been at the businessman's Mt Maunganui storage shed where the man's employee was kidnapped, nor had he been at Rotorua where the businessman was roughed up or at his Lakes retreat when the businessman was abducted. He said there were no fingerprints or DNA to rely on or evidence of cellphone messages linking Dwyer to any of these places.
He reminded the jury the businessman's identification of Dwyer from a police photo montage was made after two days of interviewing during which he'd gone without the P he was addicted to. This, he said, made it suspect.
Gunning's lawyer, Bill Lawson, said his client was the one defendant who had done nothing. Mr Lawson said that, at the start of the trial, the crown had been so sure of its facts that Gunning had been charged with aggravated robbery. He said it had become so unsure since that the charge had been reduced to being a party to robbing the businessman's girlfriend of her cellphone. This is the only charge Gunning faces.
Mr Lawson said that, to be guilty of robbery, Gunning had to have taken the phone with threats of violence but there was no proof there had been any. "Look at the evidence and it's not even close," he told the jury.
McDonnell's lawyer, Bruce Hesketh, said McDonnell had not been at the lake retreat during the attack on the businessman and his subsequent kidnapping, nor had he held the maintenance man against his will. "They were on their own mission," he said. "That mission was getting more methamphetamine."
Other defence lawyers will make their closing submissions on Wednesday.