Crown closes graphic Hayden Miles case

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 13/04/2013
Gavin John Gosnell
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
ACCUSED: Gavin John Gosnell denies murdering Hayden Miles.
Hayden Miles
VICTIM: Hayden Miles.
Nicolette Vaux-Phillips
IN COURT: Nicolette Vaux-Phillips.

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Did Gavin John Gosnell intend to kill Christchurch teenager Hayden Miles?

Was he aware the boy might die when he brutally assaulted him on August 22, 2011, but bashed him anyway?

Or, did he just want to rough him up, then panicked and came up with a bizarre plan to dismember and dispose of the body?

These are the questions a jury of six men and six women will decide on as early as Monday after a week of grisly evidence in the High Court in Christchurch.

The Crown has now wrapped up its case after testimonies from 16 witnesses and filmed police interviews with Gosnell. Some evidence regarding Hayden's dismemberment heard yesterday was so graphic, a female juror started crying and the trial had to be adjourned.

Gosnell, 28, denies murdering 15-year-old Hayden, saying the killing was manslaughter.

Gosnell maintains he never wanted the boy to die, but confessed to police how he repeatedly punched and kicked the 15-year-old in his Cashel St flat, stopping and resuming three to four times.

The next day, the court was told this week, Gosnell cut his body into 12 parts with a bread knife and a $20 electric jigsaw from Bunnings Warehouse, then buried the remains in three locations - the Ruru Lawn Cemetery in Linwood, the Memorial Park Cemetery in Bromley and beside a tree in his backyard.

He cleaned the house and burned evidence then went to Dunedin.

The court also heard about Hayden, a boy who stayed in regular contact with both his parents despite behavioural issues and truancy landing him in Child Youth and Family care.

It heard how he met Nicolette Vaux-Phillips on the street in September 2010, and they became good friends.

Vaux-Phillips, now 19 and a mother, met Gosnell in a park in July 2011 and only days later moved into his Cashel St flat.

Gosnell, 28, had worked in Dunedin as a male prostitute, had a self-confessed "shady past", and the court was told he had told a friend years earlier of his desire to kill someone who would "not be missed".

Vaux-Phillips would later not only watch the brutal assault on Hayden, but accompany Gosnell to dispose of his body parts, then cover up his death by posting messages on the boy's Facebook page.

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Sobbing through much of her evidence and hidden from Gosnell by a screen, Vaux-Phillips told the court she only did these things because Gosnell threatened her with the same fate.

Initially, they had a cover story, the court heard.

Hayden had turned up that night intoxicated, badly beaten and, Gosnell believed, wanting to confess his love for Vaux-Phillips. The next morning he was gone.

However, after police seized carpet from the flat that was covered in Hayden's blood, then spoke to witnesses who had turned up at the flat on August 23 and been told of a body on the couch, it all unravelled.

According to Gosnell's filmed confession to police on December 17, after his arrest, Hayden had made a comment that Gosnell was "using" Vaux-Phillips - and he "snapped".

He was angry and wanted to make Hayden "feel what I was feeling".

Forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage, who examined Hayden's remains and carried out an autopsy on the various parts on December 17, 2011, yesterday said he had no doubt Hayden was already dead when his body was dismembered.

He said Hayden most likely died from bleeding to the brain after a "prolonged and determined" assault by Gosnell.

The only fractures found on Hayden's skeleton were a nasal fracture, showing he had a broken nose, and another to his right forearm.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane will open his case on Monday, but is not expected to call any witnesses.

MONDAY

The trial begins and the court hears how murder- accused Gavin John Gosnell punched and kicked Hayden, left him unconscious on a couch, then dismembered and buried his body when he was found dead the next day.

The defence argued Gosnell should be found guilty of manslaughter, not murder, because he did not intend to kill Hayden.

The jury of six men and six women was told the fatal assault started after Hayden told Gosnell his then-partner, Hayden's friend Nicolette Vaux-Phillips, was "just using him" and "didn't like him anyway".

TUESDAY

Defence says Gosnell "panicked" and came up with a "bizarre" plan to dispose of his body.

During cross-examination Vaux-Phillips agreed Gosnell had never previously indicated he wanted to harm Hayden, it was only his comment that she was "just using" Gosnell that sparked the bashing.

WEDNESDAY

A former friend said Gosnell often said he wanted to kill someone.

Hayden's mother, Jacqueline Miles, described her son as having "behavioural issues", which manifested in truancy. She eventually asked for help from Child, Youth and Family, and Hayden lived with CYF caregivers from December 2010.

THURSDAY

Filmed police interviews were shown. Initially, Gosnell stuck to his cover story. Hayden had turned up at the flat intoxicated, badly beaten and, Gosnell believed, wanting to confess his love for Gosnell's partner, Vaux-Phillips. Gosnell helped him have a shower, put him to bed on the couch, and he was gone in the morning.

After police charged Gosnell with murder he agreed to a "truthful" account. During it, he said he "couldn't believe it" when he found him dead the next day and that "I didn't want to kill him."

He sought help from an associate, who said Gosnell needed to kill Vaux-Phillips as well but "I couldn't kill two".

FRIDAY

Hayden Miles most likely died from bleeding to the brain after a "prolonged and determined" assault, causing him to slip into a coma and then die, the court heard.

Forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage told the court he had "no doubt" that Hayden was already dead when his body was dismembered.

- The Press

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