Accused 'just needed to call out'

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 14:17 12/02/2014
Juliette Gerbers
JOHN COWPLAND
JULIETTE GERBES: Defending manslaughter charge.

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A woman accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend just needed to call out for help, the Crown says.

Prosecutor Clayton Walker accepted that Christopher Jones, 22, cornered and intimidated Juliette Anne Gerbes, 21.

But she should have called for help instead of picking up a knife, he told the High Court in Napier.

Jones died from the stab wounds to his stomach on October 13, 2012.

Gerbes is defending a charge of manslaughter.

The pair had been fighting verbally and physically after they had been drinking at a party the night before.

At home, Jones had tried to initiate sex, but Gerbes said she wasn't in the mood. The couple tussled before Gerbes picked up the knife from the bench.

Gerbes denies plunging the knife into Jones. She claims Jones grabbed the knife during the argument and pulled the blade into himself.

The jury has retired and are deliberating their verdict.

Walker said it was an emotional case because a young man lost his life and his girlfriend was accused of fatally stabbing him.

He asked the jury to put their sympathies and prejudices aside.

The jury needed to assess the evidence and not to judge the case on the couple's violent lifestyle, Walker said.

The Crown did not accept Gerbes' explanation that Jones had grabbed her hands and pulled the knife into himself.

The position and angle of the knife wound were inconsistent with Jones pulling the knife towards him and it was implausible to think he would stab himself, Walker said.

Gerbes had a tendency to initiate violence and had told police, "I'm not frightened of him", Walker said.

Gerbes had been infuriated after Jones threatened to go to a bar and find another woman to sleep with following her refusal to do so.

Walker said she picked up the knife to send Jones a message: "'Don't mess with me, back off, I'm serious'. But he [Jones] wasn't intimidated by that."

Gerbes "lost it" and plunged the knife in, Walker said.

"All she had to do was call out for help."

Gerbes' claim of self-defence did not stand up because it went "way beyond" what was necessary to deal with the situation, Walker said.

In her defence Eric Forster said Gerbes acknowledged the relationship had been violent but she would never go to the extreme of stabbing Jones.

Tolerating violence was a bad strategy as it always got worse, Forster said.

"This relationship was always going to end badly."

The dispute on the night of the stabbing was a "highly charged", he said.

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Jones was bigger and stronger than Gerbes and could have easily grabbed her wrists to prevent the stabbing, Forster said.

But Jones had no defensive wounds on his hands.

"There were two people applying force to the knife," Forster said.

The only direct evidence of what happened that night was Gerbes' police interviews, where she was open and consistent, Forster said.

There was a great deal of uncertainty about the mechanics of the stabbing which Forster said provided enough reasonable doubt for the jury to find Gerbes not guilty.

- The Dominion Post

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