Four flaws in case against Macdonald - defence

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2012

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Ewen Macdonald had the motive, the skill, and the state of mind required to kill his brother-in-law Scott Guy, the Crown says.

But Macdonald's legal team have a simple response to those allegations: "Where's the evidence?"

After 3-1/2 weeks of testimony, Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk and defence lawyer Greg King delivered their closing addresses to the jury at Macdonald's murder trial in the High Court at Wellington yesterday.

Mr Vanderkolk wrapped up his closing in just under four hours, while Mr King will conclude his today .

Macdonald's wife, Anna, sat in the public gallery for the first time, alongside her parents, Bryan and Jo Guy, and her older sister Nikki.

They heard Mr Vanderkolk describe Scott Guy's murder as the result of an "intense, personal hatred" that Macdonald developed out of fear he would be forced off the Feilding farm they co-managed, known as Byreburn farm, should Mr Guy inherit it some day.

Tension over how the farm was run had been building since 2008, which was about the time Macdonald began trying to scare Scott and Kylee Guy out of Feilding with acts of arson and vandalism, as well as leaving threatening notes in their letter box, Mr Vanderkolk said.

"You cannot imagine ... the deep-seated resentment and anger that drives the state of mind of the accused who's doing it ... it's extreme conduct of the most wanton kind."

He asked the jury to take a look at the bigger picture and base their verdict on common sense.

He also directed them to a picture of what the murder scene would have looked like at 4.45am on July 8, 2010, saying only an experienced hunter like Macdonald would have had the skill to shoot Mr Guy in the pre-dawn darkness.

Macdonald had also told police that he recalled seeing the headlights of Mr Guy's ute shining through the bars of his closed gates, which was an image only the killer would remember, Mr Vanderkolk said, because Mr Guy had opened his gates just before he was shot.

Because there were no witnesses to the murder, the case could only be proven by reference to circumstance and coincidence, he said.

But Mr King urged the jury to base their decision on something more substantial.

He said Mr Vanderkolk presented three hours and 40 minutes of allegations in his closing statement and only 20 minutes of evidence. "Everything you have just heard is wrong," he told the jury.

He said there were four fatal flaws in the Crown case. Among them were the four witnesses who recalled hearing gunshots at 5am, rather than 4.45am, and three shots rather than the Crown's two-shot theory.

"If that is right, then there is no way in the world Ewen Kerry Macdonald could be the killer. It's a fact, he could not have done it."

THE DEFENCE

Greg King: "Can you realistically say, I'm certain?"

* Three of the four Crown witnesses to hear shots heard them about 5am; Macdonald was at work.
* Two thought they heard three shots in succession. That was too quick for the shotgun on the farm.
* A car was seen near the house.
* The Crown says Macdonald cycled to and from the murder.
* A cigarette packet found outside the house matched one stolen by a burglar with a history of shotgun crimes.

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THE PROSECUTION

Ben Vanderkolk: "A verdict based on common sense."

* Macdonald had the motive: he felt Mr Guy was not pulling his weight.
* He had been trying to drive Mr Guy and his wife, Kylee, out of Feilding.
* He had time, he knew where the farm shotgun and puppies were, and he knew when Mr Guy would be leaving home.
* He owned dive boots with distinctive soles.
* As a hunter, he had enough expertise to shoot Mr Guy in limited light.

- The Dominion Post

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