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Crown lays out main 'five planks' of its case

Mon 18 Apr 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Ihaia Gillman-Harris In summing up the trial of two young men for the murder of Ihia Gillman-Harris, the gay man who died soon after an altercation in an Epsom, Auckland motel in December 2014, the crown has distilled the prosecution case against the accused into five “planks." Leonard Nattrass-Berquist and co-accused Beauen Wallace-Loretz are on trial facing charges of murder, unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and aggravated robbery. In his summing up of the case today the lead defense lawyer said Gillman-Harris's injuries were “inconsistent with him starting and continuing a fight” in the way one of the accused, Nattrass-Bergquist claimed on the witness stand. Co-accused Wallace-Loretz did not give evidence in the trial. He said there was “evidence of the involvement of a bat or a weapon of that nature” was likely responsible for many of Gillman-Harris's injuries. That the text messages sent between the pair were clearly developing the plan to carry out a violent robbery were “grounded in reality” as shown by the attack being carried out. That Gillman-Harris's cash, credit card, vehicle and phone were stolen, “reflecting their putting their plan into effect.” And that events after the the alleged attack confirm that responsibility for the altercation lies on the defendants and not Gillman-Harris. The Crown cast doubt on glowing character references provided by witnesses, saying it was clear they did not know Nattrass-Berquist's complete character. The crown acknowledged that it was clear Gillman-Harris had been anticipating a "consensual sexual encounter for money" with one or both of the youths but said evidence given in court reinforced the view that Gillman-Harris was “not one for confrontation, let alone violent physical confrontation.” “The issue is whether, against the weight of evidence, Mr Gillman-Harris initiated a violent assault so great it required such a violent resonse,” he said. “Judge this case on the evidence. This is not the time to take into account feelings of prejudice or sympathy.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 18th April 2016 - 10:29pm

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