29 Jun 2012

Murder was to counter lifestyle threat - Crown

11:16 am on 29 June 2012

Crown counsel has told a jury that the man accused of murdering Feilding farmer Scott Guy killed his brother-in-law after being confronted with the reality that the family farm and his way of life were under threat.

Mr Guy's brother-in-law, Ewen Macdonald, is before the High Court in Wellington charged with murdering him in July 2010 at Feilding on 8 July 2010.

In his closing statement, Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk described Mr Macdonald as a man with a capacity for deceit, who abused the trust of his wife Anna while he led the life of an arsonist and vandal.

Mr Vanderkolk said that Mr Macdonald murdered Mr Guy after hearing plans the structure of the family farm could be substantially altered, meaning his and his family's security were under threat.

He said the accused and Mr Guy's plans for the future were wildly divergent.

Murder of the Feilding farmer was a planned and intensely personal event, said the Crown prosecutor.

Mr Vanderkolk said all Mr Macdonald had to do was ride the short distance to Scott Guy's property and once the shooting was over he could return home and go about his normal morning activities without attracting suspicion.

But he said Mr Macdonald made a couple of slip-ups including having a disagreement with another person at the scene over whether Mr Guy had been shot or had his throat cut.

Mr Vanderkolk said that, in a later interview, Mr Macdonald told police that he had seen the lights of Scott's vehicle through the bars of the farm gates, something only the killer would have seen.

Unlike other suspects, he said, only Ewen Macdonald had committed other offences against Scott Guy.

Crown arguments are that Mr Macdonald shot Mr Guy dead in his driveway over tensions about the future of the family farm. During the trial, which has so far taken almost four weeks, the Crown called about 60 witnesses.

And the Crown says the wife of the defendant, Anna Macdonald, has been walking a tightrope throughout his trial, and her evidence over the whereabouts of a key pair of dive boots cannot be relied on.

Part of the Crown case against Mr Macdonald is that distinctive dive-boot marks found at the murder scene belonged to a pair of boots owned by the farmer, but never found.

Mrs Macdonald told the court she could not remember if she had thrown out a pair of similar dive boots years before.

Mr Vanderkolk says Mrs Macdonald opened herself up to possibilities about what happened to the boots after her husband asked her to think about what she had done with them.

He says she is an honest witness but her evidence about the boots cannot be relied on.

Defence witnesses

But defence lawyer Greg King has told the jury that the Crown's closing address was light on evidence and full of speculation, and he has pointed to what he says are four flaws in the Crown case.

The Crown says Mr Macdonald cycled to Scott Guy's property and shot him dead, then returned to his own home before carrying on with his daily farming routine.

But Mr King says there were easier ways to have killed Mr Guy, including making it look like a farm accident.

And police failed to find another vehicle seen in the area that morning, or to find a suspicious-looking man who was in the vicinity around the time Mr Guy died.

Mr King will continue his closing address on Friday.

The defence called two witnesses, an electrical engineer and a US firearms expert, and wrapped up its case on Wednesday.

Electrical engineer Peter Shelton gave evidence on Wednesday that magnetic fields where Mr Guy lived could not have influenced the timekeeping of digital clocks.

An earlier Crown witness who heard shots on the morning Mr Guy died had said he could not be sure about the time because his clock was always out as a result of the magnetic fields.

US gunsmith and competitive shooter Mitchell Maxberry had tested a gun similar to the one believed to have shot Mr Guy and told the court it would take seven seconds to fire three shots from that type of gun.

Crown witnesses had said they heard three shots in quick succession but Mr Maxberry said the killer would have had to be using a semi-automatic weapon for that to be the case.

Defence lawyer Greg King told the jury there is not simply reasonable doubt but an absolute abundance of doubt in all strands of the Crown's case.