Coroner says no to Scott Guy inquest
Kylee Guy's pleas for an inquest into the murder of her husband Scott have gone unanswered, after a coroner effectively acknowledges the only person Kylee could find responsible for the death is Ewen Macdonald.
Feilding farmer Scott Guy, 31, was gunned down at the end of his Aorangi Rd driveway in the early hours of July 8, 2010.
At a high-profile trial in Wellington last year, MacDonald, his brother-in-law, was acquitted of his murder.
In a decision released this morning, Palmerston North coroner Carla na Nagara has declined to hold an inquest into the death.
''While it is open to me to resume my inquiry, summons Mr Macdonald and compel him to give evidence, I do not consider that is a defensible exercise of my power in the circumstances of the case,'' na Nagara said.
''Mr Macdonald exercised his right not to give evidence in person at his trial.
''In my view it would undermine the integrity of the criminal trial process if I chose to compel Mr Macdonald to give evidence at a coroner's inquest convened solely to identify Mr Guy's killer.
''I note there are no other suspects who would be called.
''The purpose of summonsing him would effectively be to have an opportunity to obtain evidence he was not compelled to give in a higher court, and I do not consider this appropriate, even on a fact finding mission.''
Na Ngara said there was a risk a coroner's inquest could become a ''backstop jurisdiction'' for matters not resolved in criminal trials that would risk a blurring of the boundaries between coroner's findings of fact and findings of legal responsibility.
It would be ''disingenuous'' not to say that Macdonald was the only person over which a finding would be made, and no other witnesses were sought by lawyers acting for Kylee Guy in her request for an inquest.
''There is no cogent evidence pointing to anyone else having been involved, so the finding of fact implicitly urged is that Mr Macdonald was the person who killed Mr Guy.''
Guy's parents, Bryan and Jo, had ''no issue'' with the coroner's decision not to resume her investigation into the death.
However, Kylee Guy's lawyer Chris Morris sought a resumption on the basis that:
* The identity of the killer had not been determined in court
* Macdonald's acquittal did not mean it was inappropriate for a coroner to establish who shot Guy, as the question of who killed him was different to whether Macdonald bore any legal responsibility for the death
* Summoning Macdonald to an inquest would be a ''valid further line of inquiry'' as the only information about his whereabouts at the time of the shooting came from interviews given to police
* It would be in the public interest to have a factual finding into Guy's death, given the extensive publicity about the case and rumours about the death, the person responsible and circumstances
* Kylee Guy feels strongly it is important she and sons, Hunter and Drover, be assured all steps were taken to determine the circumstances of the death. ''She feels at this stage this has not happened''
* It is in the interests of other suspects that a factual determination is made about the death.
Ms na Nagara said the high level of public interest in the case did not equate to public interest issues such as death prevention.
She also said, having considered the court transcripts and the scope of the police inquiry, all available steps had been taken into determining the circumstances of the death.
The coroner was also unconvinced that the interests of other suspects were of sufficient merit to hold an inquest.
''With respect to the present case, I am satisfied on the basis of the evidence and information available to me that there are no known suspects who reputations need to be protected by a finding of fact as to the identity of the killer,'' Na Nagara said.
She ruled Guy's death was either a ''random or opportunistic act'' or was ''related to issues firmly rooted in his private or personal life''.
Either way, holding an inquest would not allow the coroner to gather evidence to make recommendations to draw public attention to or reduce the chances of other deaths happening in similar circumstances.
BRYAN GUY REACTS
Scott's father Bryan had read the coroner's report and agreed with Ms na Nagara's decision.
"When we look at her legal responsibilities, I think she's done all she can do," Mr Guy said.
"It's just another chapter in the whole story. We'd love to know who killed Scott, obviously, but this doesn't really answer that question and so it doesn't end it for us. It doesn't bring Scott back.
"For us it's not closure or anything. It's just part of the legal process."
Macdonald is serving a five-year prison term for crimes, including arson and vandalism of property belonging to Scott and Kylee Guy.
Macdonald's first bid for parole was unsuccessful last year and he will see the Parole Board later this year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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