Three men who went to a Taupo drug dealer's property, armed with a loaded shotgun, were simply going to "shake the money tree", a lawyer for one of the accused has told a jury.
John Munro, lawyer for murder accused Cody Griffin, told a jury in the High Court at Hamilton today, that Griffin, together with his co-accused Daniel Chase and Whakapumautanga 'Cookie' Clarke formed a "low-level, insignificant plan, done on the hoof, to go out and shake the money tree".
The trio went to shooting victim Scott John Henry's Whangamata Rd property on July 20, last year, to get drugs and cash.
They are each defending charges of murder and aggravated robbery of Henry's backpack after Henry was shot in the chest.
The Crown claims the accused went to the scene with a plan to rob and kill Henry.
But Munro told the jury there was not enough evidence that his client knew there would be a "probable consequence" that the shotgun would either kill or injure Henry.
Griffin drove the group to the house and also picked up an old shotgun he had stored at a friend's house, just prior to heading to Henry's property.
But Munro said it was a "reasonable assumption" to take a firearm as a "precautionary measure".
He also reminded the jury how calm the group were in the car, even described as "jovial" by witness Natasha Telford, who was also in the vehicle.
"The approach was unremarkable … [but] the drastic and sudden behavior change after that shot, what can you assess from that with Cody? His sudden change in behavior demonstrates to you that there's no way that Cody knew the probable consequences of that gun going off and killing or injuring Scott Henry."
And then after the shooting, his client was shocked by what happened, and questioned Clarke as soon as they got back in the car.
"Basically [saying] 'what the f*** did you do? Why'd you do that?' … [verbally] attacking Cookie [Clarke]. You can take from that he never turned his mind to the probable consequences of that gun going off."
"I think it's safe to say this is low level and it's unsophisticated."
Chase's lawyer, Bill Lawson, said his client had been described throughout the trial as the "younger one".
He urged the jury to remember witness Natasha Telford's evidence and how both she and Chase were ordered out of the vehicle by the older two accused.
"Think about the dynamics … think about what he may or may not have been included in … he was instructed to get out of the car with Natasha Telford. It's quite an important aspect not to involve him in.
"It's a significant part of this case that's alleged. But he's not involved, because he didn't have a choice about that."
Lawson said there wasn't enough evidence to prove he even knew there was a gun in the car, prior to Clarke presenting it when they changed their clothing in Kinloch.
He said if his client didn't know there was a gun prior to going to the property "how can it be probable there will be a discharge of the firearm".
He said when the aggravated robbery occurred the jury had to figure out how much Chase knew about the Crown's claim of a plan between the trio.
Based on the evidence, he said it was possible Chase didn't know the firearm was in the car and "how can he possibly know ... that someone was going to be shot?".
"There's no evidence that he knew it was loaded. There's no evidence he knew there were bullets available."
He said there was no evidence to prove that his client was guilty of either murder or manslaughter.
Meanwhile the jury yesterday got to hear what the defence was after neither lawyer for the accused submitted any evidence during the trial.
In his closing statement, Clarke's lawyer, Max Simpkins of Rotorua, said his client admitted shooting Henry but it was an "accident".
"The evidence tells you that it was dark ... that there was no light on the shed ... it was but winter and it was cloudy overhead. It was raining, heavily. These are the things that you need to look at as to whether there was any prospect of an accident."
Henry's Whangamata Rd property was also foreign to his client, he didn't know his way round.
"He's not guilty of murder. Because I want you to convict him of manslaughter, because he didn't know that it was likely to cause his death, because it was an accident.
"Hold him responsible. Find him guilty of manslaughter."
However, Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon dismissed Clarke's "accident" alibi, saying there had been no evidence submitted by any witnesses that he had spoken of slipping in the wet weather.
"When he shot Henry he knew that the act of shooting Mr Henry was likely to cause his death and it did kill him. Even though he might not have wanted to commit the aggravated robbery without hurting anyone.
"As a result of Mr Clarke shooting Mr Henry and killing him, he is at the very least guilty of manslaughter … but the Crown say Mr Clarke is guilty of his murder."
Griffin and Chase were charged as being a party to the murder, she said, which meant as they all went to Henry's home with the intention of committing the aggravated robbery they were also guilty to any other act committed by either of them during the course of that robbery.