Three men have been found guilty of blackmail over threats made when $35,000 in cash, described as “dirty money” by a witness in court, went missing from where it had been buried in a deer shed on a Nelson farm.
A woman who was charged with assisting and encouraging the blackmail, Anna Heloise Horgan, 37, of Nelson, was found not guilty and discharged by Justice Dobson in the High Court at Christchurch.
The jury returned its verdicts at 12.40pm yesterday after more than a day of deliberations on the seventh day of the trial.
About an hour earlier, Justice Dobson had told jurors they were allowed to consider 11-1 majority verdicts.
Those found guilty were Terry Jones, 43, of Nelson, who is Ms Horgan's partner, Ritchie Stuart Clutterbuck, 49, and Leon Delshannon Turner, 37, of Christchurch.
The jury returned majority verdicts for Jones and Ms Horgan.
Clutterbuck was charged as a principal offender, and the Crown alleged Jones had arranged the threats from inside prison, and Turner had assisted as a party.
Clutterbuck and Turner voiced their anger at the verdicts as they were being taken out of court. “Never threatened anyone; never blackmailed anyone,” they said, and swore.
The cash had been hidden on the farm at the request of Jones because the farmer was an old friend. Some money had been added, and some taken in the months that followed, but when it was to be moved, the farmer said he found it was missing.
The defence alleged that the farmer and his wife were responsible for the disappearance, and the Crown alleged that Clutterbuck had met the farmer, with the support of Turner, in a car park in Christchurch to get the money back or place a security over his property for a large amount.
The farmer said a threat was made against his daughter. He was told it was lucky he was a friend of Jones or he would not be walking.
“People go in the ground for this,” he was told.
Justice Dobson remanded the three in custody for sentencing on November 23 and asked for pre-sentence reports.
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