2 Jul 2012

Scott Guy jury retires for night

10:15 pm on 2 July 2012

The jury in the trial of the man accused of shooting Feilding farmer Scott Guy has retired and will resume deliberations on Tuesday.

Ewen Macdonald is accused of murdering his brother-in-law on 8 July 2010 and denies that he shot the 31-year-old.

The Crown says Mr Macdonald was concerned about inequalities he perceived in the amount of work he and Scott Guy had to do around the farm and tension arising from that led to the killing.

The defence says while the 32-year-old acknowledged that he had damaged property belonging to Scott Guy and his wife Kylee, that does not make him a murderer.

Justice Simon France summed up the case in the Wellington High Court on Monday, telling jurors they have to be satisfied that, in July 2010, the accused still had the fears and frustrations that led him to damage the couple's new home 18 months earlier.

The judge told the jurors although the evidence reflected badly on Ewen Macdonald as a person, he could not be found guilty based on his character.

"It is important you only use this information you have about Mr Macdonald's past conduct the right way. This isn't a trial about character. The fact that he's done bad things in the past or has lived with this secret matters only insofar as that evidence legitimately helps you decide this case."

Justice France said it is up to the jury what weight it puts on evidence relating to the accused's shooting of a neighbour's deer - but the only relevance of that is to show his capacity to shoot at night.

The judge said while the Crown's case is based on circumstantial evidence, there was nothing unusual about that and it did not make the case flawed or weaker.

Regarding the defence's suggestion that a farm worker or someone else might have been responsible for Scott Guy's death, Justice France said there is no onus on the defence to prove those matters.

The judge said at this stage, the jury must try to reach a unanimous verdict. Jurors retired to begin deliberations at 11.30am on Monday.

At least 50 people lined up at the court in the morning in a bid to watch the final stages of the trial. Court officials said about 45 family members had seats put aside in the public gallery, leaving about eight seats for members of the public.

Closing addresses

In his closing address on Friday, Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said Scott Guy's killing was a planned and intensely personal event.

Mr Vanderkolk said unlike other possible suspects, only Ewen Macdonald had committed other offences against Mr Guy and strongly disliked him.

However, defence lawyer Greg King said the Crown had failed to fully investigate a white sedan seen on Aorangi Road around the time Mr Guy died, or a suspicious looking man who turned up at a neighbour's home asking for him.

Mr King said the Crown had adopted a presumption of guilt against his client.