Did Jason Wiremu Poihipi murder his pregnant partner Lynace Parakuka or is he guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter?

That is now being debated by a jury of 10 women and one man in the High Court at Rotorua where Poihipi, 19, went on trial on Monday. The 12th juror was discharged after becoming unwell.

The jury spent most of the afternoon deliberating after the judge summed up the case. They have retired for the evening and will return to deliberations tomorrow morning.

The Crown contends the only verdict that can be reached is one of murder. The defence argues that although Poihipi admitted punching and kicking Parakuka so severely she died, he lacked the necessary intent to be guilty of the murder charge so must be found guilty of manslaughter.

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Justice Ian Gault's summary of the evidence and submissions heard was in four parts. The first related to fundamental trial rules, the second was the essential elements of the murder charge, followed by directions on the proper issues relating to the evidence and a summary of the main points made by Crown an defence lawyers in their closing arguments.

He told jurors to asses the credibility and reliability of the witnesses they had heard from and warned them that people lied for all sorts of reasons.

In his first police interview Poihipi said Parakuka claimed she'd been beaten up by some girls, in the second interview he said he had punched and kicked her. "You must be satisfied he lied in either interview before using that as evidence," the judge instructed.

Jason Wiremu Poihipi, 19, is on trial in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / File
Jason Wiremu Poihipi, 19, is on trial in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / File

He also referred to the role alcohol may have played, something Poihipi's lawyer Roger Gowing had raised, pointing to evidence Poihipi had drunk 18 cans of Codys before his attack on his partner.

Justice Gault said being drunk was not a defence but jurors needed to be aware it could affect the state of mind someone was in and whether it had clouded Poihipi's judgement

"This is trial by jury not by experts," he told them, saying there was nothing second rate about conclusions drawn from inferences, however he urged them not to speculate or guess.

"If there is reasonable doubt you must give it to Mr Poihipi," the judge concluded.