Alleged blackmail likened to 'Fair Go'

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 08:03 09/10/2012

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After a day of deliberations, the jury in a blackmail trial retired for the night and will continue considering its verdicts today.

Justice Dobson summed up from 8.30am yesterday on the sixth day of the trial in the High Court in Christchurch, and the jury began its deliberations before 10am.

Four people are on trial over alleged threats that were made when $35,000 in cash went missing from where it had been buried inside a locked deer shed on a Nelson farm.

The jury will decide whether a dispute over missing money was gangland-style standover tactics or a consumer affairs episode.

John Sandston, defence counsel for one of the accused, told the jury in the High Court blackmail trial: 'The Crown put to you that this was an episode of The Sopranos. I put it to you it is an episode of Fair Go.'

The trial arose from efforts to collect a debt, he said.

The Crown finished its evidence on Thursday, the fourth day of the trial and the jury heard all closing addresses on Friday.

Before the court are Terry Jones, 43, and his partner, Anna Heloise Horgan, 37, of Nelson, and Ritchie Stuart Clutterbuck, 49, and Leon Delshannon Turner, 37, of Christchurch. All deny blackmail, with the Crown alleging threats were made to a Nelson farmer to harm him or his family to force him to repay the missing cash.

The trial was told that the farmer buried the cash in a locked shed at the request of Jones, an old friend.

The Crown alleged threats were made in a meeting in a Christchurch car park.

For Horgan, Sandston claimed the farmer had stolen the money and was trying to 'wriggle out of it' with a claim of blackmail. "He was a thief and he's been found out."

For Turner, Paul Norcross said his client may have made smart comments, but it was a far cry from threatening to endanger people.

James Rapley, for Jones, said the so-called blackmail comment had been vague and uncertain.

For Clutterbuck, Bryan Green said there had been no threats for gain, and the jury should treat the farmer's evidence with caution.

Crown counsel Kathy Bell said the farmer had been scared by standover tactics. He had been told, 'People go underground for stuff like this', and took it seriously.

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