13 May 2010

Jury retires for day in hit-and-run trial

6:00 pm on 13 May 2010

A jury has retired for the day in the trial of a woman killed in a hit-and-run after her bag was snatched in South Auckland.

Christopher Shadrock is on trial for the murder of Joanne Wang, 39, who struggled to stop her handbag from being stolen in Westfield shopping centre carpark in Manukau in June 2008.

Five other men are accused of being accessories to the crime.

The Crown says the men were a gang of thieves preying on shoppers. It says Mr Shadrock, 23, tried to steal Mrs Wang's handbag, and when she would not give up, he tried to get away.

When his reverse escape was blocked by another car, Mr Shadrock chose to drive forward and hit Mrs Wang instead, the court was told. The Crown says Mr Shadrock must have seen his victim yelling at him before he chose to accelerate into her.

The defence says Mr Shadrock admits that he stole the handbag but never intended any harm, let alone to kill Mrs Wang, and the jury should consider a verdict of manslaughter.

In his summing up to the jury at the High Court in Auckland on Thursday, Justice Hansen says Mrs Wang's death was the result of a bag-snatch that went badly wrong in a way no one could have anticipated.

The judge says this is a particularly sad case, because an innocent woman was killed before the eyes of her young son, and it is a horror scenario that has left a grieving family and a shocked community.

Justice Hansen says as a result, six young men with the rest of their lives ahead of them are before the court facing serious charges.

The judge told jurors they must find Mr Shadrock either guilty of murder or manslaughter.

The jury began its deliberations at 2.30pm before retiring at 4.45pm on Thursday. It will resume on Friday morning.