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Defense seeks to eliminate the word 'gay'

Tue 12 Apr 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News

Ihaia Gillman-Harris As the defense seeks to avoid the use of the word 'gay' the troubled backgrounds of the two young men accused of murdering gay man Ihaia Gillman-Harris emerged in court as the defense court has got under way. Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist and Beauen Wallace-Loretz were both 17 when they accompanied Gillman-Harris to an Epsom motel in late December 2014. The crown says they went with the gay man with intent to rob and attack him. The defense claims Gillman-Harris sexually attacked Nattrass-Bergquist and was injured when the pair fought back Nattrass-Bergquist told the court his parents separated before he was born and he was primarily raised by his mother. “My parents never got on,” he said, “and couldn't bear to even sit in the same room together.” His half-brother and half-sister had different fathers. He says he never did well at school. “I didn't understand a lot of things... I had difficulty paying attention in class... my teachers tried to tell me I had ADHD.” He said he was asked to leave school and went to live with a cousin. He had an interest in motor vehicles and took several automotive training courses. At the time of Gillman-Harris's death he was working part-time in a Kingsland cafe and he has had no criminal convictions. Nattrass-Bergquist says he and co-accused Wallace Loretz had become extremely close friends after meeting at a training course. Wallace-Loretz had a difficult relationship with his mother who was frequently angry, apparently due to alcohol, and he was frequently kicked out of the home. At times he would have nowhere to sleep. Amongst hundreds of txts exchanged between the pair in the lead-up to the attack, examined in great detail during defense questioning, Wallace-Loretz said: "I hate faggots", to which Nattrass-Bergquist replied: "So do I fuck this weird c**t." The defense addressed the issue of homosexuality in an opening statement. “Being gay is irrelevant,” Nattrass-Bergquist's lawyer told the jury. “It should be scrubbed from the vocabulary. They are people... who are capable of lasting relationships... who make a contribution to society and we should applaud them for it. This case has nothing to do with sexual orientation. "[Mr Gillman-Harris] is different... her lived out of a car..." so he could be "available to drive around the inner city areas of Auckland... there are photos taken by [him] of a series of young men consistently the same as the two boys." Later, he asked Nattrass-Bergquist whether he had “any friends or acquaintances who prefer their own gender.” The accused replied: “Yes... close friends and family friends” and momentarily used the word “gay.” The defense lawyer immediately commented: “We're trying to eliminate that word.”    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News

First published: Tuesday, 12th April 2016 - 7:10pm

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