Weeks after US polo player Lauren Biddle died of a suspected drug overdose, the man accused of giving her Ecstasy and burying her clothes allegedly suggested partygoers "stick together" in a move a witness thought was about "trying to cover his own arse".
Promising American polo star Lauren Mikaila Biddle, 22, died suddenly during a small gathering at a hillside house in the Christchurch suburb of Clifton on October 22, 2018.
Joseph Douglas McGirr, a 39-year-old Christchurch civil engineer, denies supplying Biddle – and a friend, Guy Higginson – the Class-B controlled drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, and attempting to pervert the course of justice by hiding Biddle's clothing after her death.
McGirr is standing trial at Christchurch District Court this week.
Amberley farrier Michael Demmocks returned from fishing off Kaikoura that day when he phoned his mate Higginson who suggested he join them at McGirr's place.
He arrived with some freshly-caught kahawai about 7.30pm and Higginson, Biddle and McGirr were relaxing and drinking in the spa pool. Another mate of Higginson's, Sam Chambers, was outside talking to his girlfriend on the phone.
"Lauren seemed very drunk. Guy was pretty drunk. And Joe actually seemed quite sober at the time," said Demmocks who prepared some sashimi before sharing with the others. He didn't notice any drugs.
Demmocks told the court today he got into the spa briefly but said, "Bugger this, it's too hot."
McGirr was trying to fix the spa's temperature, he said, while Biddle who had a bikini on stayed in pretty much the whole time.
He left shortly after 9.30pm, just after Chambers who was picked up by his girlfriend.
The court also heard that one day in mid-November, just weeks after Biddle's death, Demmocks was walking in Amberley when McGirr saw him and did a u-turn and pulled over.
He claims that McGirr wanted Higginson to talk to him because "they all need to stick together".
Demmocks also said that McGirr asked if Chambers, who was at the gathering earlier, had stolen any drugs – and if not, then Biddle must've taken them.
When defence counsel Rupert Glover suggested to Demmocks that McGirr never talked about drugs that day, he replied: "Maybe you should ask your client to stop lying."
Glover suggested that McGirr's statement they should all stick together was obviously in reference to the tragedy of Biddle's death.
But Demmocks replied: "It seemed to me more like he was trying to cover his own arse."
This morning, Australian citizen Chambers who was visiting friends in New Zealand two years ago, told of going to McGirr's house on October 21, 2018 for a few beers.
He'd already had "quite a few" before he arrived and early in the evening allegedly struck up a conversation with McGirr about drugs.
McGirr told him, "You Aussies know how to party," Chambers recalled, and said how McGirr reckoned he'd seen "heaps of cocaine" in Australia.
And he also allegedly told Chambers, "If you want to get on it, just let me know. I'll just have to make some phone calls."
"Joe did tell me he could get drugs if I wanted it," Chambers told the jury.
McGirr allegedly told him he could get his hands on the amphetamine known as speed.
Chambers, an agricultural contractor from New South Wales, said he'd never touched it so said, "No thanks, mate," and he was like, "No worries. I can get it, like, now."
"I didn't think it was going to be that big a night to be honest," said Chambers, who thought they were just having a few quiet beers.
But he told the court he didn't see any drugs produced that evening while he was there.
He admitted seeing a tin of cannabis but can't recall if he – or anyone else – had smoked any.
Yesterday his friend, North Canterbury professional polo player Higginson, also a mate of McGirr's and ex-boyfriend of Biddle, gave evidence to say McGirr later provided three 3cm-long lines of ground up "kind of blue ... bluey" powder which he took for Ecstasy and they all snorted. It was after Chambers had left the gathering.
Then Higginson told of returning to the spa and McGirr saying Biddle was dead.
Higginson says McGirr refused to call emergency services, allegedly saying, "**** off. The police aren't coming around here."
McGirr's lawyer Rupert Glover says Higginson's version is "a reconstruction, not a recollection" and completely inaccurate.
A first responder who arrived at the scene and immediately took over CPR from Higginson said Biddle was "completely dry".
Jessica Percasky, a volunteer senior firefighter with the Sumner Volunteer Fire Brigade, got called to a cardiac or respiratory arrest nearby at around 12.59am on October 22, 2018.
She arrived 5-6 minutes later at the top of McGirr's driveway to find a shoeless, topless male doing CPR on a female patient who put his hand in air signal to stop.
He was on a footpath, kneeling over a female whose legs inside the front passenger footwell of what turned out to be Higginson's car.
Percasky took over chest compressions on Biddle who was only wearing the bottom half of underwear, the court heard.
She asked Higginson how long he'd been doing chest compressions and he replied 15 minutes.
With a colleague, Percasky carefully moved Biddle to give them more space to work.
She asked Higginson if Biddle was on any medication and what they'd been up to that night but he didn't respond.
Her lips were "very blue" and while she "did not look dead" she was clearly in cardiac arrest.
As they worked on her, Higginson appeared stressed out with his head in his hands.
Percasky remembers hearing a male say, "I thought she was sleeping" but couldn't be sure who it was.
Biddle showed no signs of being assaulted.
But the volunteer firefighter described her as being "completely dry".
Percasky she would've noticed if her long hair was wet but it was also completely dry.
They stopped CPR about 45mins later and St John pronounced her dead at the scene.
The Crown earlier outlined its case, saying at the heart of the matter lies a small social gathering that went "horribly, tragically wrong".
After Biddle was found unconscious, and emergency services were being called, Crown prosecutor Kerry White claimed McGirr was back in the house "tidying evidence of the party", clearing bottles and cans, and throwing Biddle's clothes and belongings over his balcony into an overgrown section below.
He then took them further down the hill, the Crown says, and using a spade covering them with leaves and concealed them.
The Crown says Biddle was very drunk - nearly four times the drink driving limit – and found with a high concentration of MDMA in her system around 15 times greater than the "normal recreational use" of the drug.
A post-mortem found her cause of death was most likely a drug overdose that caused a sudden cardiac arrest.
The trial, before Judge Tom Gilbert, continues.