Guy murder case costs to grow

SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE: Greg King sums up in the trial of his client Ewen Macdonald who was acquitted in the High Court at Wellington.
SUCCESSFUL DEFENCE: Greg King sums up in the trial of his client Ewen Macdonald who was acquitted in the High Court at Wellington.

More than $1.15 million of taxpayer money has been spent on the unsolved murder of Feilding farmer Scott Guy.

About $333,000 of that was generated by the month-long murder trial of Mr Guy's brother-in-law, Ewen Macdonald, who was found not guilty in July of the shotgun slaying.

Mr Guy, 31, was shot twice outside his rural home in the pre-dawn darkness of July 8, 2010, on his way to milk cows.

Macdonald, 32, who worked with Mr Guy and was married to his sister Anna at the time, was arrested for the murder in April 2011 but acquitted by a jury of 11 in the High Court at Wellington.

Figures released to The Dominion Post show the cost of the unsuccessful murder prosecution by Crown lawyers Ben Vanderkolk and Paul Murray was $206,536.

That includes $21,328 in disbursements, such as travel and accommodation, since Macdonald was committed for trial last August and proceedings were moved from Palmerston North to Wellington.

Of the total Crown expenditure, $97,994 was for the months of June and July, when the trial took place. The Crown chalked up $18,245 in disbursements during that time.

Meanwhile, legal aid payments to Macdonald's three-pronged defence team of Greg King, Peter Coles and Liam Collins totalled $126,953.

But the legal fees pale in comparison to the extensive nine-month homicide investigation, codenamed Operation Yellow.

Police spent $694,773 putting together a case against Mr Macdonald. About $150,000 went on travel, food and accommodation for the 92 police staff who worked on the investigation at one time or another. Forensic costs totalled just over $102,000.

The final bill for all parties is expected to rise later this month when Macdonald, who is still in police custody, is sentenced on six charges pre-dating the murder.

They include killing 19 calves, two counts of arson, poaching, destroying 16,000 litres of milk and an axe attack on Mr Guy's home.

The nearly 17 months Macdonald has spent in jail since his arrest have also cost about $128,000 of public money, but that time will count as part of a likely jail sentence for his other crimes.

The overall cost of the Scott Guy case still falls well short of the taxpayer spending on David Bain, who was convicted in 1995 of murdering his family and spent 13 years in jail before being acquitted in a 2009 retrial.

That process cost in excess of $4m, with Mr Bain's legal aid totalling $3.3m - the highest for any individual in New Zealand.