Rape claim not to be considered
The rape allegation against Glen Jones was not one of the issues to be decided in the case of the four people accused of murdering him, a jury has been told.
Mr Jones, 40, was disabled and worked at a Featherston supermarket.
He was beaten to death in what the Crown alleges was a vigilante attack after he was accused of rape.
Summing up the case to the jury in the High Court at Wellington today, Justice Alan MacKenzie said the allegation made against Mr Jones was part of the background and the jury did not need to decide anything about it.
The jury had been given a statement of the circumstances of the rape claim but jurors should not get sidetracked into considering if there was any substance to the allegation, the judge said.
The assault on Mr Jones was an unlawful act and had no justification in law, he said.
His comments came as he gave legal directions to a jury which was reduced to 11 on Monday when it was discovered one juror knew someone indirectly involved in the case.
It is the fourth week of the trial. Two of the defendants acknowledge they are guilty of manslaughter.
Glen Jones suffered fatal head injuries when a group barged into his flat on January 12, last year.
The judge said part of the jury's task was to separate the evidence given in police interviews into what the person being interviewed said about themselves and what they said about other people.
Justice MacKenzie said the information in the interviews was only evidence in respect of the person who was speaking to the police.
When one of the defendants was talking to the police the others were not there and so could not challenge what was being said. The defendant having the police interview might have an incentive to minimise their own role at the expense of others, the judge said.
Earlier today the jury heard the address on behalf of the final defendant, Hayden Ranson, 28.
At the start of the trial Ranson pleaded guilty of aggravated burglary of Mr Jones' flat, and this morning his lawyer Steve Winter asked the jury to find Ranson not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
"He has a tab to pick up for that night in Featherston and it's a big one and he knows it," Mr Winter said.
Yesterday a lawyer for another defendant, Matthew John McKinney, 29, asked the jury to return a manslaughter verdict. McKinney had also pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to the charge of aggravated burglary.
Tariana Hineteanaurangi Jones, 34, and Kristofer Lee Jones, 24, have pleaded not guilty of murder and aggravated burglary.
Toni Maree Miller, 23, was charged only with aggravated burglary and pleaded not guilty. She drove one of the two cars that went from Masterton to Featherston with the people involved in the attack on Glen Jones.
The Dominion Post