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Epsom accused: word 'bat' in txts meant 'bottle'

Wed 13 Apr 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Ihaia Gillman-Harris Texts and cctv evidence have this morning been re-interpreted in the high court as the crown has sought to prove that an attack on a gay man in an Epsom motel was premeditated and carried out with a weapon taken to the scene by one of the accused. It is alleged Ihaia Gillman-Harris, 54, had earlier offered Beauen Wallace-Loretz, 17, $1000 for an oral sex act, after which he and his close friend Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist, also 17, decided to rob the older man.  A crown prosecutor this morning suggested to Leonard-Nattrass-Bergquist, who was on the stand as a defense witness, that texts sent between himself, Beauen Wallace-Loretz and a third man, Connor Saunders, showed a clear intent to attack and rob Gillman Harris. The defense had previously suggested the texts were an act of bravado or 'trash-talk' between the two youths and that they had no intention of carrying out what they appeared to be planning. Dozens of the texts were sent between the pair while they were in a car being driven around central and eastern Auckland by Gillman-Harris in the early hours of 27 December, 2014, the morning of an altercation after which the older man died. The texts included messages such as: Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Should we roll him Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Idm g [Idm=I dont mind] Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Lead the way my bro Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Tell connor whata goods Beauen Wallace-Loretz: how bad you want? Don't think he's got cash though Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Hardout Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Hospital? Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Ay? Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Cblue [a nickname for Connor Saunders] said na but me and you g? Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Yes g All day Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Must have cash if he said that to you Beauen Wallace-Loretz: If i'm doing it g doing it properly beedub all out cuh Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: yea all da ima fuck a gay cunt up g grand for us 3 brada Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Chur brada While at a Pakuranga parking area, where the Crown suggested Wallace-Lortetz left the car for a few minutes to retrieve a bat from a hiding place, the following text conversation occurred: Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Straight up if I 'm doing it i'm keeping it all g fuck g I hate faggots g Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: Allgoods g just ask to see the money then roll him Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Aint going down g Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Sorry g but na cuz Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: So di I g fuck this weird cunt Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: I wanna roll him anyway Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: But no point withot cash Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Hold up g there will be the perfect moment just ride it out Beauen Wallace-Loretz: youcan start it up whenever you eant g told youto let me bring my bat Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: dont need the bat Beauen Wallace-Loretz: Take him to the bay I really wanna get a knock out with it soooo bad that's why I gotm it (The crown suggests the word 'bay' is a typo for bat.) In other messaging around this time the crown says the pair became concerned about where to carry out the attack, concerned about cctv cameras. “Fuck who cares we wearing hats” “just do it at the carpark Bruv” “Take a piss with him and grab th bat Beauen Wallace-Loretz: I can't hit his head Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist: then dontg legs or just help me punch him over. A little later Nattrass-Bergquist texted to Connor Saunders, an associate who had been with the trio earlier but had been dropped off elsewhere: “...we'll take him motel and smoke him there then come back." It was suggested by the crown that on the way to the Epsom motel, which Gillman-Harris chose and paid for, one of the pair, possibly Nattrass-Bergquist, had agreed to a paid consensual sex act with Gillman-Harris and that the older man had withdrawn $400 cash from two atms for this purpose. Nattrass-Bergquist denied this. Under intense crown questioning Nattrass-Bergquist maintained his assertion that the word 'bat' in the texts actually meant 'bottle' and referred to a bottle of spirits he says Gillman-Harris had offered the pair. He also denied the interpretation offered by the crown that motel cctv footage showing Wallace-Loretz backing and 'crabbing' sideways from Gillman-Harris's car to the motel door then backing through the door indicated a way of hiding from their intended victim that he was carrying a bat. The crown contends the bottle of spirits, which the defense case suggests was grabbed in the heat of a fight in the motel room between the older man and the youths and was used to strike the Gillman-Harris on the head, never existed. Nattrass-Bergquist maintained the bottle was real though he could not say what sort of spirit-bottle it was other than "square." He also maintained that he was sufficiently outraged by seeing the homepage of a porn site, pop-up advertisements and 90 seconds of movie during which an “attractive young woman” was seen walking down a street talking on a cellphone and stopping outside a tattoo shop, images he had previously described as pornographic, to angrily slam the laptop player shut. Asked repeatedly where his degree of anger rated on a scale of one to ten, Nattrass-Bergquist eventually decided it was high on the scale. Asked by the crown what he had thought the trio, a 57 year-old man and two youths, were going to the motel for, Nattrass-Bergquist replied: "To sleep." The trial by jury continues in the High Court at Auckland. Over the past days the public gallery has been packed, primarily with members of Gillman-Harris's family and their supporters but also a handful of people connected with the defendants.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 13th April 2016 - 2:24pm

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