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In court: The major players

Thu 26 May 2016 In: People View at Wayback View at NDHA

In the coming days will bring you a series features based on the murder of Ihaia Gillman-Harris and his attackers' trial. Here's a run-down of the main players who appeared in court. Justice Kit Toogood The judge: Older readers may remember Kit Toogood as the sleekly dark-haired on-screen legal adviser to Fair Go a few decades ago. Now a High Court Justice and somewhat less sleek and dark-haired, he presided over the trial with quiet dignity; a firm and moderating presence, and always concerned to a fault for the well-being and needs of the jury. The jury: Nine women and three men, of several ethnicities, pretty much all middle-aged or slightly younger and remarkably attentive for the entire three drawn-out weeks of the trial. Occasional administrative delays and frequent debates and negotiations between the judge and lawyers 'in chambers,' for which jury members – and the public – had to vacate the court, surely tried their patience sorely but they seemed to hold up rather well. The crown prosecutors: Sharp of features and stiletto-like in his questioning, David Johnstone was tenacious, forceful and just a little scary. Refining and redefining his questions as he homed in on precisely the points he wanted to elicit from witnesses he clearly unsettled the only defendant to take the stand. His colleague, Dale Dufty, was the good-guy lawyer from central casting, all metrosexual stubble and warm crinkly eyes, more labrador than rottweiler but quite capable of going in for the kill when required. The defence teams: Two separate teams, one for each defendant, worked in tandem. Tall, elegant and silver-haired, with a slightly imperious manner, Murray Gibson appeared for Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist and carried most of the in-court heavy-lifting of the combined defence. Yet his urbane charm overlaid a very determined personality, and he ran afoul of Justice Toogood several times in his determination to make a point - but he always judged the right moment to pull back before things got irretrievably fraught. His associate, David Niven, was more of an everyman, of regular appearance and reserved demeanour, a support performer to Gibson's star turn. Leading the Beauen Wallace-Loretz defence team was the terrier-like and at times rather dramatic John Kovacevich, always up for a verbal stoush and with a hint of the legal 'street-brawler' about him. His associate, Vivienne Feyen, an otherwise warm personality, could chill the room with her 'look over the spectacles perched on the tip of the nose, fix the witness with a long stare, say “Mmmmmm, yeeeeeeesss, I see...” then hold a pause longer and better than most Shakespearean actors' routine. Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist and Beauen Wallace-Loretz in the dock. The defendants: It was clear from the start that at least part of the reason Beauen Wallace-Loretz 'chose not to give evidence' had to do with his background, demeanour and attitude being unlikely to charm a jury. Whether by a quirk of physiognomy or perhaps due to a street-wise nature, a bad-boy sneer never seemed far from his lips. He frequently and light-heartedly acknowledged family and friends in the public gallery and spent much of the trial time hunched over, seemingly staring at his feet. However, a glance inside the dock would reveal a litter of loose sudoku puzzle pages scattered on the floor. He would occasionally take exception to something said in evidence and briefly remonstrate, occasionally passing notes to, or through, his defence team. His co-accused, Leonard Nattrass-Berquist, was fluffed up for his appearance in court, rounder of face and sporting angelically curly hair instead of the leaner, bovver-boy look apparent in evidence photos. He at times seemed easily bewildered and it was hard to avoid the impression that of these two partners in horrific crime he was not the dominant personality. He sat calmly in the dock, quietly - almost studiously - attentive to every twist and turn of the trial. In the public gallery were family and friends of the victim and both of the accused. It wasn't always easy to differentiate who were there for Nattrass-Bergquist and whom for Wallace-Loretz. Ranging from mundanely middle-class to dreads and tatts, they daily ebbed and flowed in numbers. At times some showed extreme displeasure at the proceedings, especially on the day Nattrass-Bergquist described to the court the seemingly dysfunctional home life of Wallace-Loretz. The Gillman-Harris family, many down from Northland, were well-represented throughout the trial with several of them attending every day. Dignified, of varying ages and somewhat comfortably provincial in demeanour, they sat quietly, occasionally tearfully but generally stoically as their brother, uncle and friend's last days, last minutes and lifestyle were played out and picked over endlessly in questioning and cross-examination. Daily News staff - 26th May 2016

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 26th May 2016 - 11:53am

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