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Gay teen's body dismembered after killing

Mon 8 Apr 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

[CONTENT WARNING] Hayden Miles As the family of missing Christchurch teenager Hayden Miles desperately turned to the gay community for help finding him, he was already dead as the result of a “prolonged” assault and his body had been dismembered. Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes has told the High Court in Christchurch murder-accused Gavin John Gosnell, 28, punched and kicked the 15-year-old until he was unconscious on August 22, 2011. When he found him dead the following day, he is accused of cutting the gay youth's body into 12 parts and burying the remains in two graveyards and the back yard of the Cashel Street flat where the assault took place. Miles' remains were not found until December, after a long search. His family had earlier contacted the gay community asking for help finding him. In court today, Hawes has given an account of the night Miles died. He said that Hayden Miles and his friend and Gosnell’s partner at the time, Nicolette Vaux-Phillips, had met earlier in the day to drink. They went to a Cashel St flat and continued drinking, and when they ran out they went to a supermarket to get more. While Vaux-Phillips was buying the alcohol, Miles was pointed out to the accused and another person. Subsequently the alcohol and a cellphone were stolen from Hayden’s backpack, and he became upset, asking a member of the public for a phone to call his mother. The teenager then returned to Gosnell’s flat wanting to know who had taken the alcohol. The Crown says Gosnell became angry, attacking Miles with multiple kicks to the head and body, both inside and outside the flat. Murder-accused Gavin Gosnell Hawes said Miles did not fight back and soon his face and arms were covered in blood as he was repeatedly kicked and punched by Gosnell. Miles tried to run away, but the Crown says Gosnell wouldn’t let him. He was left on the couch overnight and in the morning Vaux-Phillips noticed he hadn’t moved. Hawes read a statement Gosnell gave to the police where he says they were broke "and wanted to get on the dope." He said he met Miles and they started drinking, and he wanted money from the teenager who wouldn’t give him any. "I beat him up... I took him inside and put him in a shower and beat him up in there as well,” he said. In a later statement Gosnell said he threw some razorblades at Miles in the shower and told him to slit his wrists. He told police he didn't intend to kill the teenager, but in a later statement he admitted telling Miles during the assault that he wanted to kill him. Gosnell admits repeatedly attacking Miles "all over the house, everywhere. "I was punching and kicking him everywhere, mostly about the face,” Gosnell said of his frenzied attack. "I couldn't stop." The Crown said the next day he set about dismembering Miles’ body. He put the parts in plastic bags and subsequently used a backpack to transport most of the the parts to two Christchurch cemeteries. Subsequently Miles was reported missing and, although she knew he was already dead, Vaux-Phillips kept up a Facebook conversation with his mother saying she was also wondering about his whereabouts, and saying she didn’t know what had happened to him. Vaux-Phillips has already been sentenced to a year’s home detention for being an accessory after the fact to culpable homicide. The prosecutor told the court this morning a post mortem was not able to ascertain the exact cause of his death, due to the state of the body. He said there were two likely scenarios; brain haemorrhage or multiple blows to the head causing damage to the brain. Hawes said Miles would have been alive when he was put on the couch, but in a coma. The position he is believed to have been in meant his breathing would have been restricted. He said carpet, removed from the flat and subsequently located by the police, and bloodstains on a pair of jeans, yielded Miles’ DNA. The crown says it will also present evidence that some time prior to the attack Gosnell had told a witness that he could kill a person and cut up the body so he'd get away with it. Defence lawyer Craig Ruane has made a brief statement in response, telling the court there is "no doubt" that Gosnell assaulted Miles in "a prolonged assault" and that this led to his death. "The crown will have to prove whether Gosnell intended to kill him. That he knew what he was doing was likely to cause Hayden Mile's death,” he said. Ruane said otherwise the verdict must be manslaughter. Gosnell has continued to impassively stare down at the floor throughout the proceedings. The victim’s mother Jacqueline Miles and extended family are in court. Evidence to be given later in the case by Mrs Miles will be held in a cleared court. There has been no evidence so far that Miles’ death was in any way related to his sexuality.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 8th April 2013 - 1:21pm

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