Jealousy is one of the strongest emotions felt by humans, a jury has heard in the trial of a man accused of stabbing his ex-wife and hitting two others with his car, one fatally.
Soafa Niumagumagu felt abandoned and "beside himself with grief" after his wife left him for another man, defence counsel Sharyn Green said in her closing remarks at the High Court in Auckland today.
He is charged with murdering Sagaia Kaisala with his car, attempting to murder his ex-wife Puapuaga Matamua by stabbing her in the neck and head, and assault with a weapon after hitting Abdul Riyaz with his car.
"This has been a terrible tragedy but whether this is murder or not is something you will have to decide very carefully," Green told the jury.
The events took place over a matter of minutes outside the trio's workplace, Oji Fibre Solutions in Māngere Bridge, on June 20, 2019.
Matamua had left her husband of nine years just weeks prior but it was the first time they spoke about it face-to-face, Green said.
"He wants his family together and so what does he do? He affects a fairly small cut in her neck," said Green.
"If he really wanted to kill her, he would have done more than that.
"He was really there to perhaps scare her, plead with her, try and bring her back, but it failed miserably."
He was a man who was falling apart and trying to re-establish their relationship, she claims.
"Kaisala went to work that day. She probably had no idea she would be helping a woman who was attacked by her husband and that she would be dead at the foot of a car.
"That is tragic … but that is not what this is about," said Green.
What matters is whether Niumagumagu had the intention to go and kill his wife and had the intention to chase down one of the workers and hit him deliberately, and search out another with his car and hit her deliberately, Green said.
The jury cannot be sure if Niumagumagu intentionally hit Riyaz with his car, Green said.
"Was he looking for someone purposefully to hit or was he trying to get away from the people who approached him?
"At best it's been an accident, or a man who is trying to get away, or we just don't know."
Meanwhile Crown prosecutor Luke Radich said no relationship break-up justifies what the defendant did, in his closing arguments.
"We know in the days leading up to the incident the defendant spoke to others about his anger and pain," said Radich.
"His actions and intent could scarcely be clearer."
But feelings of sympathy for Niumagumagu are "legally irrelevant", Radich told the jury.
He stabbed her with a sharpened piece of steel, saying "I'm going to kill you", Radich said, referring to evidence given by Matamua earlier in the trial.
He then deliberately drove his car into Riyaz, and the jury heard this from 10 different witnesses, Radich said.
"I don't expect this to be in dispute and frankly it couldn't be, given the number of witnesses."
Riyaz was among a group who confronted Niumagumagu in his car after the alleged stabbing, some even threw rocks at the car.
Tensions were high and the small group who approached him were undoubtedly angry with him, Radich said.
Witnesses said Riyaz "cartwheeled" over the car, which was travelling fast and did not slow down after hitting him. He was seen flying up in the air like a rag doll, the jury heard.
"This was no accident, he deliberately ran him down just like he was about to do with Kaisala," said Radich.
Eleven people claimed to have seen Niumagumagu kill Kaisala with his car in the factory car park.
"No witness described him braking, no witness described him turning to avoid her, that's the stuff that matters ... that helps to draw conclusions about Niumagumagu's intent," said Radich.
"Whatever the speed, it was virtually enough to break her body from head to toe.
"This wasn't a gentle tap."
The jury has heard from a string of witnesses who claim to have seen the episodes of violence - most of whom also worked at the packaging factory and were finishing their shift for the day.
"At the very least the defendant intended to cause injury. He knew the injuries were intended to cause death and he did it anyway, and that, members of the jury, is murder," said Radich.
"All there is, is a whole lot of evidence and a man who is not taking responsibility for what he did."
No CCTV footage captured the critical moments.
Justice Mathew Downs will sum up the case tomorrow morning and the jury will retire to deliberate.