Waihi man guilty of manslaughter, not murder
BELINDA FEEK AND ELTON SMALLMAN
The killing of a holidaymaker outside his caravan on New Year's day was manslaughter, not murder, a jury has decided.
A jury returned the verdict in the trial of Israel Kaihau, 19, in the High Court in Hamilton just after 5pm. He will be sentenced on November 29.
Kaihau was accused of the murder of Robert Murray Wilkinson, who died after a knife was plunged into his skull and through his brain at Waihi Beach.
The jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty on the charge of murder but found Kaihau guilty of manslaughter. He will be sentenced next month.
Earlier the court heard closing arguments from defence counsel Paul Mabey, QC, and Crown prosecutor Ross Douch.
Previous evidence was that Kaihau had been on bail and did not want to be seen by police. He hid on the property where Wilkinson and his wife, Luise, were staying. Wilkinson told Kaihau he would have to leave and the police would be called. After that Kaihau stabbed the 64-year-old.
In his closing submissions, Douch said Kaihau had shown no credibility on the stand.
Kaihau had previously testified that he had not intended to kill Wilkinson, and had simply reacted quickly when Wilkinson had tried to wake him from a drunken stupor and stepped on his sore leg. That evidence was dismissed by the prosecution.
"The only thing [Luise Wilkinson] heard was her husband speaking and this terrible bang. No cursing, no swearing ... then he stabs out at somebody," Douch said.
"Mr Wilkinson had no defensive wounds. Mr Wilkinson, in simple terms, didn't have a chance ... didn't see it coming."
Closing his case, Mabey told the jury they weren't here to "take revenge" on Luise Wilkinson's behalf and said a verdict of manslaughter must be returned.
"You're not here to put the record straight, but to determine whether or not this young man is guilty of murder," he said.
Kaihau had had a knife on him the night of the killing, but "he's not on trial for carrying a knife", Mabey said.
"He hid evidence, he burnt some clothes, he's not here for burning evidence. He lied to police. He's not on trial for lying to police ... just because someone lies, doesn't mean they're guilty of the charge they face."
Kaihau was in good spirits on the night of the killing and Luise Wilkinson, who spoke to Kaihui before the killing, described him as "polite" and non-threatening, he said.
It was not feasible that a "happy, drunk boy become a cold-blooded killer because a householder said, 'I'm going to report you"', Mabey said.
"There was no sign of aggression or anything about his conduct that evening that would even suggest that he was out looking for trouble.
"All that's required here is that you have a reasonable doubt about the case and you must find him guilty of manslaughter."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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