13 Mar 2018

Murder-accused denies violence towards victim

3:21 pm on 13 March 2018

A man accused of murdering his girlfriend says he was never physically violent towards her.

Turiarangi Tai, on trial in the High Court in Auckland for the murder of Chozyn Koroheke.

Turiarangi Tai, on trial in the High Court in Auckland for the murder of Chozyn Koroheke. Photo: RNZ / Laura Tupou

Turiarangi Tai is on trial in the High Court in Auckland for the murder of 22-year-old Chozyn Koroheke, who he fatally shot in April 2017.

Giving evidence in his own defence today, Mr Tai said he and Ms Koroheke were pretty close.

He said they had their ups and downs and argued a lot, but the good times outweighed the bad.

Mr Tai denied the evidence given by a number of Crown witnesses that he was violent towards Ms Koroheke.

"I was never violent to Chozyn, just verbal violence really," he said.

He never once threatened to shoot her or physically assault her, he said.

His lawyer, Richard Keam, asked Mr Tai about where he got the shotgun from.

Mr Tai said he had got it from a friend, about two or three weeks before Ms Koroheke died, so he could protect himself, as he was worried about the violent people who were showing up at the house where the couple lived.

"I thought it was an antique really, I don't know nothing about guns," Mr Tai said.

Mr Tai also didn't know if the gun, which was kept in the attic attached to Ms Koroheke's room, was working or not.

He said he never touched it and never showed it to anyone else.

The night before Ms Koroheke died, Mr Tai said they had gone out drinking at a friend's house.

He left Ms Koroheke and they didn't see each other again until the next morning, when she was angry with him because she hadn't been able to find him.

Because of the argument, Tai said he started packing up some of his belongings, so he could spend a couple of days at home.

He wanted to leave before things escalated further, and was frustrated, rather than angry, he said.

Before he went into the bedroom where Ms Koroheke was, Mr Tai's other defence lawyer Peter Kaye told the court Mr Tai thought he had checked that the safety switch was on.

He thought because the switch was covering the 'S' marking, that it was on, but the opposite was in fact the case, Mr Kaye said.

Mr Tai was as surprised as everyone else when he pulled the trigger and the gun exploded, he said.

After Ms Koroheke was shot, Mr Tai was screaming for an ambulance.

His client would have never intended to kill the woman he loved, Mr Kaye said.