Two men accused of beating a man and leaving him hog-tied to fatally asphyxiate in his Sandringham home have been found guilty of manslaughter.
Don Ekeroma, 35, and Benny Fatu, 29, were both cleared of murder by a jury today in the Auckland High Court and have been remanded in custody for sentencing on May 1.
Shannon Baker was found hog-tied and deceased inside his Calgary St home on December 11, 2018.
Ekeroma and Fatu both admitted they had committed aggravated robbery in a brutal drug-fuelled home invasion but they said they never intended to kill the 55-year-old Baker.
The closing arguments in the case were heard on Tuesday.
Crown prosecutor Brett Tantrum argued that what unfolded on the night of December 10, 2018, and into the early hours of the following morning had been series of deliberate acts.
It started with the intention to rob Baker in his own home.
"None of it was an accident. All of the serious injuries were deliberate and intentional."
Both of the victim's eyes were swollen shut, with a pathologist contending that if Baker had survived he would have lost vision in one eye, Tantrum said.
The men were desperate for drugs, the court heard.
"When they couldn't find it they lost control and beat him and beat him and beat him," Tantrum said.
Baker had "no chance" of survival, he said.
By beating and incapacitating him they were likely to cause his death in some way, he said.
The Crown argued both men should be found guilty of murder.
Fatu's lawyer Graeme Newell said the Crown had not disproven his client's version of events.
Newell maintained that Fatu was not present when Baker was gagged, which was the act that caused his death.
Ekeroma's lawyer Lester Cordwell said what had unfolded was a tragedy.
"He did not deserve to die the way that he did."
Methamphetamine had reared its ugly head at nearly every turn in the case, he said.
"Whichever way you look at it this case is a cautionary tale."
Ekeroma was high on methamphetamine during the robbery and, while he anticipated that Baker would suffer discomfort, that harm fell short of murder, Cordwell said.
The serious injuries Baker had received to his face had not caused his death, he said, rather asphyxia had.
Cordwell said while in custody Ekeroma told his partner over the phone that he did not foresee this happening.
"Mr Ekeroma's defence has not just been invented for this trial, he talks about it over a year ago on the 23rd of February."
Things had gone horribly wrong, there had been little planning as the men had not even brought restraints with them instead grabbing what they could find, Cordwell said.
It was possible Baker in an effort to free himself had rolled into the prone position, lost consciousness and died, he said.
There were unanswered questions that left holes which could not be plugged by guesswork, he said.