Jury say shooting was not murder
A jury has found Otaki Beach man Tuaine Llewellyn Bevan not guilty of the murder of his former partner.
Instead, almost a day after being sent out to consider their verdict, the jury found Bevan guilty of the manslaughter of Stacey Lake, 23.
Justice Jillian Mallon said Bevan would be sentenced next month.
Both the prosecution and defence lawyers had agreed Bevan killed his former partner, Stacey Lake, 23, but were at odds about whether it was deliberate.
During the trial Bevan argued he was ‘‘mucking around’’ with a sawnoff rifle and didn’t realise it was loaded when he pulled the trigger.
He had been accused of murdering his girlfriend in the bedroom they shared, about 4pm on May 8 last year.
In his hour-long closing address yesterday, Crown prosecutor Paul Murray said the events leading to the death of Ms Lake were fuelled by murderous intent.
From the time they began to have “domestics’’ days earlier, to the time he pulled the trigger, Bevan knew what he was doing, Mr Murray said.
“What was in his mind? Everything that had happened.
“He did want rid of Stacey Lake, and that’s what was in his head when he pulled the trigger.
“The accused acted upon that murderous intent, which can never be undone.’’
Ms Lake had told friends she did not like guns in the house, and Mr Murray said she would not have rested in a room while Bevan played with the rifle, as the accused claimed.
“He was focused, he was clear and he was deliberate about what he was doing. There was time to think, to reconsider. He certainly doesn’t put the safety on.
“He pulls the trigger – a deliberate action, and the only thing that will make the gun work.”
But defence lawyer Christopher Stevenson said Bevan’s reaction afterwards demonstrated the importance of acquitting him.
The way the accused asked for help from bystanders, and how the police treated him, showed someone who had not tried to kill.
“To convict him of murder, you would have to disregard that.”
Instead, Mr Stevenson spent his address – which also took about an hour – presenting Bevan as a man who had created a terrible situation for himself.
“He demonstrated a high level of idiocy – with all due respect... but he takes full responsibility.
“It was incomprehensible, foolish and unforgivable – but it wasn’t murder.”
During both addresses, Bevan sat with his hands folded and his head bowed. He rarely looked around the courtroom, staring at the floor during most of his time in the courtroom yesterday.
Justice Mallon said to the jury that murder was the “intentional killing of a person”.
She said if the jury decided Bevan had genuinely thought the gun was safe, he could not be convicted of murder.
However, he could still be convicted of manslaughter.
Mr Murray said that while witnesses who saw Bevan after the shooting said he was distraught, any emotions had to be put aside.
“Emotion cannot be allowed to overrule reason. His reaction is the realisation of the enormity of what he has done.
“There is remorse and regret, but it’s all after the event.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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