Jurors in Gwaze trial sent home

Last updated 16:39 28/05/2012
Justice Christine French
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
PUT EMOTIONS ASIDE: Justice French sums up in the George Gwaze trial, telling the jury to reach their verdict dispassionately.
George Gwaze
Kirk Hargreaves
ACCUSED: George Gwaze.

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The Christchurch jury deciding the Gwaze trial failed to reach a verdict today.

George Gwaze, 60, a former veterinarian in Zimbabwe, is charged with violating and murdering 10-year-old Charlene Makaza, his niece, in her bed in the family home in Bryndwr, Christchurch.

Gwaze, who, with his wife, had adopted Charlene and her sister Charmaine when their parents died in Zimbabwe, allegedly injured Charlene in a violent sexual attack on January 5-6, 2007. She died on January 7 in Christchurch Hospital.

The jury remained locked in deliberations in the High Court in Christchurch until about 4.20pm, bringing up about 12 hours considering their verdict since Friday at midday.

About midday today the jury indicated they were having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict and asked for directions on a majority verdict.

By 4.20pm they indicated they had had enough for the day and wanted to continue tomorrow. They were sent home for the night.

 

Earlier Justice Christine French told the jury of five women and seven men, it was possible for them to deliver a verdict on which 11 agreed.

"If you do not have 11 agreeing you are not in a position to give a verdict,'' she said.

Further directions would be made if the jury could not get 11 to agree, she said.

He was first tried on the charges in 2008.

The Crown case argues Charlene's anogenital injuries were recent and consistent, only with blunt force trauma.

As part of its argument it points to the fact the accused's DNA was on the underwear and skirt Charlene was wearing that night as well as on her fitted bed sheet.

It says she died from lack of oxygen to the brain and of the three mechanisms by which that can occur, the only way reasonably consistent with her presentation was blockage of her airways.

The Crown asserts the pain of the anogenital injuries would have been excruciating so that she would have called out but did not do so and therefore something must have prevented her from doing so.

It says it would be an untenable co-incidence if at the same time she was sexually violated she just happened to suffer from an overwhelming HIV related infection.

The defence say the strands (of the circumstantial evidence) are fundamentally flawed and cannot possibly amount to proof beyond reasonable doubt.

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It says Charlene's anogenital injuries are explicable by her HIV condition, possibly impacted by medical treatment.

The DNA, it says, could have got there entirely innocently by way of transference in laundering and it questions how the crime could have occurred with Charlene's older sister Nothando only centimetres away.

There was no physical evidence of asphyxiation and toxic shock could not be excluded. She presented with all the classic signs of toxic or septic shock taking account that an HIV person may present with some atypical symptoms, the defence said.

- The Press

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