Warning: Graphic content.
A woman has been found not guilty of intentionally stabbing her husband during sex in a planned attack.
A Rotorua District Court jury returned its verdicts just after 3pm after deliberating since Monday afternoon.
The woman, who has extended interim name suppression, denied charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and breaching a protection order. She was found not guilty on both charges.
The names of witnesses and the complainant are also suppressed and some details of the case cannot be reported.
It was the Crown’s case the woman straddled her husband during sex and stabbed him in the neck and abdomen as his eyes were closed. He suffered life-threatening injuries but survived.
Crown prosecutor Anna McConachy closed her case on Monday after calling witnesses.
Defence lawyer Tony Bamford said in closing arguments on Monday the stabbing was in self-defence as the man was tightening a strap around her neck during sex. It was the woman’s evidence her husband was mean to her, kicked and spat on her, and kept money from her.
She stabbed him because she feared what he would do.
Sex stabbing: Jury struggles to reach verdict
Judge Tony Snell gave the jury what is called a majority verdict direction about 11am today followed by a Papadopoulos direction just over an hour later.
A majority direction means the jury could reach a majority decision of 11 jurors to one instead of a unanimous verdict of all 12 jurors.
A Papadopoulos direction is a legal term for a judge’s direction when a jury is having trouble reaching a majority verdict. It encourages jurors to persevere with their deliberations and to demonstrate a willingness, having listened carefully to the views of other jurors, to change their views.
The jury of four men and eight women delivered two unanimous verdicts.
The Crown case
McConachy said the woman stabbed her husband with scissors during sex which was pre-meditated and followed by a planned cover-up.
The woman had been caught sending nude videos and photos to other men by her children. The couple separated and the complainant took out a protection order against her, she said.
McConachy reminded the jury of a recording played during evidence in which the woman called her husband names including a “f***ing loser” and a “f***ing idiot”.
“Is that someone scared of her husband?” she asked the court.
The complainant said in evidence his wife’s face was blank with no emotion as she stabbed him. He described it as if “no one was home”.
McConachy argued the evidence - particularly the forensic evidence - supported the man’s version of events.
She said the woman’s account was difficult to follow and did not make sense. It had evolved over time and it was not physically possible for the woman to have reached for the scissors and stabbed him, judging by the location of blood on the mattress.
It was also the Crown’s contention the strap never existed during sex and the woman put it around her neck herself after the stabbing to claim he harmed her.
McConachy said it was the woman’s evidence she had distracted her husband and the strap loosened, giving her time to get free and stab him.
But the Crown said the bag strap was not one that tightened or loosened depending on how hard it was pulled.
McConachy said when police arrived, the woman was wearing the strap around her neck and it had been pulled so tight an officer could not get their fingers underneath it. There was also no blood on it, despite a lot of blood being on the bed.
The defence case
Bamford said the woman was distressed after having been served with a protection order, but was also scared of what her husband could do, so reached for scissors when he didn’t stop tightening the strap at her request.
Bamford said the couple had a dysfunctional relationship and the defendant’s comments to a neighbour indicating she wanted her husband gone were made several months earlier in the context of a possible divorce.
Bamford reminded the jury the woman had called 111 – as did one of the children who was tending to their father’s wounds – after the incident and she would not have had time to put a strap around her neck.
The woman’s evidence being “slightly jumbled” came with a three-hour police interview and suffering from a traumatic event.
Kelly Makiha is a senior journalist who has reported for the Rotorua Daily Post for more than 25 years, covering mainly police, court, human interest and social issues.