Rachel Maree Faul stepped out of the dock and hugged her family before bursting into tears after an Invercargill jury found her not guilty of kidnapping a man near Queenstown.
Faul, 22, the remaining defendant in the 2011 kidnapping case, pleaded not guilty to the charge of kidnapping along with a charge of offering to supply ecstasy, which was discharged yesterday morning. The jury trial started in the Invercargill District Court before Judge Gary MacAskill on Monday. Yesterday, after about four hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
The high-profile case involved several people charged with various offences relating to the violent assault and kidnapping of Jason Maynard after a drug deal went wrong.
Judge MacAskill, in his summing up yesterday, told the jury the Crown had alleged Mr Maynard left Queenstown for Cromwell on November 25 but went to the Crown Range turnoff after he received a text message from Faul, who asked to meet him.
When Faul arrived in her vehicle, Mr Maynard was waiting. As he approached Faul's vehicle, about five males arrived on foot from a second car and beat him up. He was put in the back seat of Faul's car and she drove for about 3km towards Arrowtown, Judge MacAskill said. She stopped the car and Mr Maynard was pushed out. The incident had followed a drug deal where Mr Maynard supplied a substance the group were dissatisfied with and wanted their money back, he said.
The Crown said Faul had arranged the drug deal and later lured Mr Maynard to Crown Range Rd. Mr Maynard was forced into her car, Judge MacAskill said.
The defence case pointed to Faul's distress after what happened to Mr Maynard and the beating was not what she wanted to happen. She and Mr Maynard were friends, he said. The defence had said things got out of control and what the men did was wrong but Faul was not involved in the violence.
The defence had also said Mr Maynard's arrival in the back seat of her car was "sudden and spontaneous" and she drove off without thinking. There was no plan to put him in the car or to detain him, Judge MacAskill said.
- The Southland Times