The murder trial of Shane Claude Roberts in the High Court at Rotorua has been aborted.

The trial was into its eighth day when Justice Matthew Muir told the jury shortly after midday today it could no longer continue and they were being discharged.

He said if it did resume it could have run into a fourth week and as the panel had been sworn in for only two it would have been grossly unfair to them for it to continue to sit beyond the original time frame.

He said he was conscious two jurors had asked to be excused when their names were called, citing personal and work commitments, but at that time he had overridden their requests and directed they take their places in the jury box.


He apologised to them and their fellow jurors for the inconvenience the trial had caused but thanked them for their attendance and the careful attention they had given to the evidence they'd heard.

His thanks came "on behalf of the judiciary and the Government of New Zealand".

Shane Claude Roberts is accused of the murder of baby Karlos Stephens. Photo / File
Shane Claude Roberts is accused of the murder of baby Karlos Stephens. Photo / File

Justice Muir explained if the trial were to proceed it would not be able to resume until Tuesday next week, then it would be adjourned again until Thursday because of the unavailability of expert medical Crown witnesses who had been scheduled to give evidence this week.

This indicated there was every likelihood proceedings would then run into the following week.

"It would be inappropriate to attribute any blame to any party to the proceedings, suffice to say I have had to deal with an application this morning which has ultimately led to the trial's early end," the judge said.

He added that the cost of aborting the trial was enormous and he did not make the decision lightly.

He apologised that the trial had become disjointed over the past two days with unscheduled adjournments and apologised to Roberts for the trial's abrupt end.

The 60-year-old pleaded not guilty when the trial began on November 4 to murdering 10-month-old twin Karlos Stephens at Rotorua sometime between November 29 and 30, 2014.


When the prosecution began its case Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon said police had reopened the inquiry into baby Karlos' death last year which had ultimately led to Roberts' arrest and subsequent murder charge.

Evidence was given that he had offered to care for Karlos and his twin brother Hosea when their birth mother Pamela Stephens was having difficulties caring for them and other children while struggling with suspected postnatal depression.

The jury also heard Roberts was co-parenting them with his ex-wife Rachael Broughton although they were living at separate homes.