Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

Gruesome testimony: Hayden Miles' last hours

Mon 8 Apr 2013 In: People View at Wayback View at NDHA

Hayden Miles Troubled gay teen Hayden Miles' last conscious minutes were spent under a hail of punches and kicks from an out of control and laughing attacker, the High Court in Christchurch was told today. Pieced together from the Crown lawyer's opening statement and prosecution evidence from a female friend who witnessed most of the prolonged attack, a picture emerged of a drifting teen with a predilection for alcohol who died as the result of a brutal attack dealt out by the female friend's partner. Nicolette Vaux-Phillips said in court she first met Hayden Miles in 2010 when she was about seventeen years old and Miles was a fifteen-year old schoolboy. Miles, who had been living in a foster home, would meet Vaux-Phillips after school to go drinking. Sometimes he would cut classes to meet up with her. Sometimes it was just the two of them. Sometimes others would join in their drinking sessions at inner-city Christchurch streets and parks. Gavin Gosnell ENTER THE ACCUSED, GAVIN GOSNELL The two, according to Vaux-Phillips, would arrange to meet up using Facebook messaging, which she accessed at public libraries. Asked by Crown lawyer Barnaby Hawes if she knew the youth she described in court as her "friend" Miles well, Vaux-Phillips replied "Yes." Did she know he was living in a foster home? "Yes." Did he talk with her about that? "No, not really." As the weeks went by they continued to meet up, generally to drink, though Vaux-Phillips was unsure how frequently. Once or twice a week seemed to be her best guess in court. Vaux-Phillips said that in July 2011, then unemployed and a mother of one, she met the accused, Gavin Gosnell, in inner-city Cranmer Square. Within a couple of days she had moved in with him and considered him her partner. The pair lived in his flat in Cashel Street on the fringe of the central city. She says she met a number of Gosnell's friends who would visit the flat but she could only recall their first names or nicknames such as 'Shifty,' 'Louie' and 'Di,' in court today. The following month, on August 22, the day when the countdown to Miles' death started ticking, Vaux-Phillips said she and Gosnell had been drinking and were in the Moorehouse Avenue area. Using Facebook she contacted Miles and arranged to meet up with him at the Cashel Street flat. Gosnell and Vaux-Phillips continued drinking at the flat with other friends until Miles joined them in the late afternoon. He had with him a cellphone, an iPod and other items. Soon the alcohol was finished. A SERIES OF THEFTS Most of the other friends, who Vaux-Phillips says Miles did not know, left and it was decided that Miles and Vaux-Phillips would walk to nearby Eastgate Mall on Linwood Avenue to get more drink. It was getting dark when the pair targeted a Countdown supermarket to shoplift wine or spirits. Miles apparently went in first and emerged with a cask of wine. By this time Gosnell and several friends had arrived in a car. Then it was Vaux-Phillips's turn to go in while Miles waited outside. But when she came out Miles was gone. She walked back to the flat. The car and its occupants, including Gosnell, arrived at the flat and Vaux-Phillips noticed a cask of wine in it. Hawes: "Did you ask him if he got it off Hayden?" "Yes, he did." Meanwhile Miles, in a distraught state, had borrowed a cellphone from a member of the public and phoned his mother regarding the theft of the wine, his iPad and other items. Eventually Miles turned up at the flat and Vaux-Phillips describes him as looking "upset, like he'd been crying" and his face was swollen. Hawes: "Did you see any blood?" "No." A "BRUTAL AND PROLONGED ATTACK" The group settled in to watching TV and drinking. Asked to compare the relative builds of Miles and Gosnell, Vaux-Phillips described her friend as thin and shorter than herself. Gosnell, she said, was taller than she is. As the evening progressed Vaux-Phillips says she went outside for five minutes and when she returned Gosnell had punched Miles in the kitchen, telling him he shouldn't be at the flat. Miles, she says, retorted that his friend Vaux-Phillips was using Gosnell, that she didn't really like him. Gosnell, she says, then punched him again, in the side of the face, "then he just started beating him up, kicking and punching him, saying again that he should leave." Miles, she says, was by now trying to get away from Gosnell who kept pulling him back. "Hayden was trying to protect himself but Gavin would laugh at him." Soon Miles was "crying, begging me to help him." Gosnell, she says "sort of pinned him down and was trying to punch him in the face and head . . . Hayden was trying to get away and Gosnell was hitting him harder." By this time Miles was bleeding and Vaux-Phillips says Gosnell told him to go to the bathroom to clean himself up. "But when Hayden came back Gavin started punching his face again." In court Gosnell's own lawyer had already acknowledged in his opening statement that the attack was "brutal and prolonged." Prosecutor Hawes: "How long did this go on for?" "I'm not sure, quite a while." "How many times did it stop and start?" "About three or four times." "How many times did Mr Gosnell punch him?" "A lot." "How hard?" "Pretty hard... we could hear the punches." The High Court, Christchurch In a statement to police, Gosnell says he beat up Miles in the shower and at one stage threw razorblades at the wounded youth telling him "to slit his wrists". He told police he was telling Miles repeatedly he wanted to kill him. His lawyer now suggests the jury consider that Gosnell did not intend for Miles to die. Vaux-Phillips says Miles, who did not appear to defend himself, was crying and trying to cover himself. By this stage, she says, Gosnell was laughing as he continued the assault. He was to later tell the police, according to the Crown, that he could not stop himself. Hawes: "What did you do?" Vaux-Phillips: "I tried to pull him off Hayden but it didn't work." "How many other people were in the room?" "Three or four." Vaux-Phillips says Gosnell was trying to knock Miles out "because he was on 7pm-7am curfew... in case the police came to check him out." By this stage Miles was considerably bloodied. Eventually the punching and kicking stopped. Hawes: "Why?" "I'm not sure, Hayden couldn't breathe properly or something." BEDTIME Gosnell, she says, dragged Miles into the bathroom, "took his clothes off him and got him into the shower." Then he dragged Miles by the arm, naked and wounded, into the lounge. Vaux-Phillips was still in the living room. When she checked in on him in the lounge "Hayden was lying flat on his back, naked... doing nothing... not moving... not breathing properly... he was moaning." Vaux-Phillips says she left him there and went to bed. Hawes: "Did Mr Gosnell knock him out?" "I don't think so." "Did Mr Gosnell come to bed?" "No, he stayed in the lounge." Under questioning from Hawes, Vaux-Phillips said she subsequently heard banging noises coming from the lounge. This indicated, she believes, that Gosnell was hitting and punching Miles harder, trying to knock him out. Eventually Gosnell came through to the bedroom. His shoes were "covered with blood." While Gosnell was in bed there were no more banging sounds, indeed no other noises in the night, according to Vaux-Phillips. MORNING IN CASHEL STREET As Vaux-Phillips' testimony regarding her recall of the next morning's events continued, Gosnell, who had so far remained hunched over in court, unresponsive and with eyes cast down, began to take an intense interest in the proceedings. When she got up in the morning, Vaux-Phillips says, "Hayden was lying on his side on the couch... I checked if he had a pulse and he was dead." She told Gosnell and friends who had arrived by car. She said one of those friends of Gosnell seemed to already know about it. Yet another carload of people she didn't know arrived. "Gavin and I went inside." "We pulled him off the couch and onto the floor," Vaux-Phillips told the court. The radio was turned up loud "in case he [Miles] woke up." She says Gosnell went into the kitchen and came back with a knife "and proceeded to cut into Hayden." Then, she says, Gosnell said the knife wouldn't work. "So he got a jig saw and I seen him start to saw him up." The court was shown a green-bodied handyman's electric jigsaw similar to the one it is alleged Gosnell used. At this point Gosnell exclaimed in court: "For real? You're saying I would cut up someone who was still alive?" He was sharply cautioned by the presiding judge, Justice Lester Chisholm, to remain silent. Vaux-Phillips, who had been emotional, barely audible and extremely hesitant throughout her testimony, began sobbing behind the curtained witness stand. Justice Chisholm called a recess. DISPOSING OF THE BODY PARTS When she resumed her testimony Vaux-Phillips described how Miles' body was cut up and the pieces were taken into the bedroom "about three times." When she ventured into the lounge "there was blood everywhere," and also in the bathroom, in the shower, and on walls. She says the cut-up body parts had been put into black shopping bags." When it was over, she says, Gosnell told her to clean the flat up. Hawes: "Did you do that?" "Yes." "After cleaning the blood we walked to the cemetery and found two fresh graves in which to bury Hayden." Then "I went to the library and went on Facebook and posted on Hayden's page" as though he was still alive, Vaux-Phillips says. Asked whose idea that was she said it was Gosnell's idea. "About lunchtime" the pair went back to the cemetery. "We took Hayden with us, and a shovel." She says Gosnell dug up the soil of the fresh graves "and put Hayden in them." Then, Vaux-Phillips says, they made a fire in the Cashel Street flat's backyard and burned towels, cushions and other bloodstained items. At that point in her testimony the court adjourned for the day and the hearing will recommence tomorrow morning. [Footnote: Hayden Miles was officially considered 'missing' for several months, during which time his family and friends tried desperately to find him, including appealing to the gay communities for help.] Daily News staff - 8th April 2013

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 8th April 2013 - 9:51pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us