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It was a tragedy that ruined two lives. But was it murder or manslaughter?

Closing arguments have been delivered in the trial of murder-accused Martin Marinovich.

The defendant killed his mother Noeleen Ann Marinovich in their West Auckland home on February 7 last year but denies it was murder.


The Crown alleges he tried to strangle his mother and then bludgeoned her to death with a hammer, striking her body at least 12 times.

However, the defence claims the victim was fatally strangled and later struck with the hammer.

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Martin Marinovich murder trial: Accused can not remember how many times he hit his mum

Today in the High Court at Auckland, Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said the jury should reject the idea that the victim was dead before hammer blows rained down on her.

The only reason to strike her with a hammer was obvious: "to finish her off".

Furthermore, the Crown alleged the bruising on her arms were defensive injuries.

"Just look at them," he told the jury.

"They are so obviously hammer blows, I suggest to you, they can't be anything else."


When McCoubrey cross-examined the defendant suggesting he had been coiled like a spring Martin Marinovich agreed he was "under significant stress".

One reason money was limited was because he was not on a benefit, McCoubrey said.

Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey. Photo / Sam Hurley
Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey. Photo / Sam Hurley

"Playing on his mind was this eight-year lie of his own making."

His mother was proud he was studying law and he "couldn't bring himself to tell her that just wasn't true".

The defendant's version of events - which the Crown alleges includes an omission of reckless intent - did not make sense, McCoubrey said.

The Crown case was he tried to strangle her and when that didn't work he picked up a hammer that was sadly nearby, he said.

"Maybe just maybe, he can't accept that's how he killed his mother. In such a gruesome way.

"However sad, however horrible, however desperate this is - if you look at the evidence coolly and calmly as you have to, he killed his mother that night."

She was alive when he started to strike her with the hammer, McCoubrey said.

Nothing spoke louder than his actions that night, he said.

"The defendant is guilty of his mother's murder."

Police working at the scene after Noeleen Marinovich, 59, died in Oratia. Photo / Doug Sherring
Police working at the scene after Noeleen Marinovich, 59, died in Oratia. Photo / Doug Sherring

Defence lawyer Shane Tait told the jury everyone agreed what unfolded was a tragedy.

"There is no way she deserved to die at the hands of her son."

But Tait said his client had been consistent with police ever since he made a 111 call at the Sturges Rd train station, admitting he attacked the 59-year-old but maintaining he did not intend to kill her.

And in his version of events he fatally strangled her after an argument about money, Tait said.

"There is a $4000 hole in the bathroom floor that needs to be fixed."

The pair depended on Noeleen Marinovich's benefit, which was about $549 a week, and she was hoping to visit Queenstown for her upcoming birthday.

There were other pressures too weighing on the defendant; his mother's worsening health meant she needed help in the bathroom and was unsteady on her feet.

The Oratia home they shared had become grubby while he took care of the shopping and other tasks, even including dying his mother's hair.

He had cared for his mother since he was 9 years old, the court heard.

Tait said as a result of all of this pressure at home he lost "all reasonable thought".

The defence case was that he strangled her to death and then paced around the house.

While she was lying deceased on the floor he then picked up the hammer and struck her multiples times. He does not remember how many.

Martin Marinovich's trial began in the High Court at Auckland on Monday. Photo / File
Martin Marinovich's trial began in the High Court at Auckland on Monday. Photo / File

Tait said the blood spatter evidence supported that she was on the floor when she was struck multiple times with the hammer.

"It seems he doesn't know why he did that."

Although that might be indicative of his state of mind, he said.

"We don't need to know why [he hit her with the hammer]."

He reminded the jury it was a matter for the Crown to prove murderous intent, not the job of the defence to prove there was not any.

The trial resumes on Tuesday, when Justice Tracey Walker will provide the jury with her summation of the case.

After she has delivered that summary, then the jury will retire to consider its verdict.