7 Nov 2017

Pawn shop murders: Accused says he was doing 'God's work'

5:57 pm on 7 November 2017

A man on trial for a double murder claims he was just doing God's work, while the Crown argues he killed the men in an angry jealous rage.

Zarn Tarapata at the High Court in Auckland.

Zarn Tarapata at the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen

Lawyers made their closing arguments at the High Court in Auckland today at the trial of Zarn Tarapata, accused of murdering 69-year-old Paul Fanning and 47-year-old Paul Matthews in July 2014.

Mr Tarapata killed the two men at their workplace, a pawn shop called Ezy Cash, in Takanini.

Experts agreed he suffered from schizophrenia at the time. Mr Tarapata thought the men had had sex with his partner, the mother of his children, Tamara Cassie.

In the Crown's closing address, lawyer Richard Marchant said Mr Tarapata was delusional, in a jealous and angry state at the time, and not following directions from God as the defence argued.

He told the jury Mr Tarapata demonstrated that same rage two days prior when he went to his friend's house and confronted him with claims he had been sleeping with Ms Cassie.

"He went up, saw Bryce, came back down and accused Tamara of having sex with Bryce," he said.

"They both go back and the defendant, this is important, appeared to be angry. And I think all the experts agree that that anger was as a result of him being jealous."

The day after the killings, Mr Tarapata went to Huntly to his father's house and confronted him in the same way, claiming he had slept with Tamara Cassie, Mr Marchant said.

"The Crown says that it's the same emotions - anger and jealousy - which have him go into the Ezy Cash, delusionally believing that Tamara was having a sexual relationship with these men."

But the defence lawyer Jonathan Krebs disagreed.

In Ms Cassie's evidence, she said Mr Tarapata was enraged and yelled at her after he had confronted his friend and father, but after he killed the two men at work, he was distant, Mr Krebs told the jury.

"This episode is so totally totally different to what happened at Ezy Cash that it's distinction is such, that something else must have interceded, there must have been something else to make Mr Tarapata snap in the way that he did."

He said Ms Cassie said Mr Tarapata was engrossed in his bible in the months leading up to the deaths and was the same immediately before and after the killings.

She had never seen him like that before, Mr Krebs said.

"He wasn't like that at the Bryce episode, he wasn't like that when earlier on he had asked her if there was anything going on with Mr Fanning and Mr Matthews. He wasn't like that on any other occasion," he said.

"Something was happening in his head when he was out the back [of the shop] and the Defence said it was the command from God.

"That was what was operating on his mind at the time. He accepted the command and he went about doing God's work."

Mr Tarapata told the police about God's messages when he first spoke to them eight months later.

Ms Cassie echoed that statement when she gave evidence in court but prosecutor Mr Marchant said she had never mentioned it in the six statements she gave to the police.

Everyone is considered sane when they commit a crime so it was on the Defence to prove Mr Tarapata wasn't, Mr Marchant said.

Mr Krebs said Mr Tarapata was so disordered in his thinking that at the time he killed Mr Fanning and Mr Matthews, he lacked the capacity to be held responsible for the crime.

The judge will sum up tomorrow before the jury gives its verdict.