Summing up starts in Oxford murder trial

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:37 19/07/2013
murder 2 std
MURDER-ACCUSED: Thuvan Prawesh Sawal.
murder1.std
ON TRIAL: Mudiyanselage Viraj Wasantha Alahakoon.

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Closing addresses have been completed and Justice Christian Whata has begun his summing up for the jury in the trial of two Sri Lankans charged with the murder of one of their countrymen at Oxford in February 2012.

The judge's summing up began soon after 12.30pm on the 20th day of the trial in the High Court at Christchurch.

The Crown's closing address was delivered on Wednesday afternoon, and the defence closing addresses began yesterday and ended about 11am today.

Before the court are Thuvan Prawesh Sawal, 24, a kitchenhand, and Mudiyanselage Viraj Wasantha Alahakoon, 35, a jeweller from St Albans, who deny murdering 28-year-old dairy farm worker Sameera Madurangana Manikka Battelage, and the arson of the house at Oxford where he lived on February 23, 2012.

Alahakoon also faces two charges of assaulting a woman on different dates in December 2011 by cutting her hair without her permission and slapping her.

He has not pleaded guilty to the assault charges but his defence counsel, Pip Hall QC, has told the court that he accepts that "guilty verdicts would be appropriate".

The Crown case has been that Battelage was killed because of a relationship he had with a woman who both the accused knew.

The two men both say they were present, but accuse each other of committing the murder and arson.

Justice Whata told the jury they must decide if Alahakoon or Sawal had killed Battelage by cutting his throat.

"If you find that one of them cut his throat, did the other accused ask, help, or encourage him to do it?" he said.

"Or, if you are unable to identify who did it, but you are sure that it was either [Alahakoon or Sawal], you must then ask yourself, did they have a common intention or plan to do it together?"

The trial is continuing.

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- The Press

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