Convicted killer Karl Nuku takes own case about a robbery ruling
A convicted killer has argued his own case to the Court of Appeal that a judge did not follow the correct process during a separate robbery trial.
Karl Nuku was part of a gang called the Killer Clown Fiends when he and another man were found guilty of the 2010 murder of Dean Browne, who was bashed with a hammer at a flat in Wellington's Oriental Bay.
Browne's body was taken to New Plymouth and left in a garage.
Two weeks before Browne died, Nuku and the other man, Mikhail Pandey-Johnson, were alleged to have committed a robbery in Auckland.
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It was alleged Nuku went to visit the target of the robbery and spent a few hours drinking and collecting information to help Pandey-Johnson commit the robbery.
Two masked men broke into the house and one of the victims was stabbed in the hand and thigh with a screwdriver. A cellphone and a bag of cannabis were taken.
Nuku's appeal against the robbery conviction has already been dismissed but he also took a different legal route, arguing the case himself via a video link from prison, asking for a judge to review procedural points during the robbery trial.
Nuku lost that argument in the High Court, but appealed to the Court of Appeal. On Wednesday the three appeal judges reserved their decision.
The main point of Nuku's argument was that the judge at the robbery trial had not given reasons for rejecting an application, in the course of the trial, to have the case against Nuku dismissed.
After Nuku's trial lawyer had spoken to the judge asking for the discharge, the judge said he did not want to hear from the Crown in response and rejected the discharge application.
But he never gave reasons for his decision. Nuku said that, by not wanting to hear from the Crown, he had been deprived of learning the Crown's grounds for saying Nuku had assisted in the robbery.
For the Crown, lawyer Ian Murray said Nuku's case had always been that he was by chance at the house where the robbery took place and was a victim as well, but the Crown said it was planned he would be there to give "active assistance".
The Crown alleged Nuku was a "Trojan horse" in the robbery.
When Nuku's lawyer asked for the discharge, the judge's brief rejection would probably have been enough, but he added that he would give reasons later and then did not.
However, it was possible to infer his reasons from what was said in court.
Murray said Nuku's appeal against his convictions had already been dismissed, so it was hard to see what the remaining prejudice was.
Nuku was sentenced to a total of eight years and six months' jail on charges of robbery and unlawful possession of firearms. The sentence runs at the same time as his life term for the murder of Browne.