8 Dec 2009

Jury considers verdict in police manslaughter trial

10:13 pm on 8 December 2009

A High Court jury will resume deliberations on Wednesday in the trial of a police officer charged with manslaughter.

Constable Clinton Hill, who is suspended on full pay, is accused of the manslaughter of George Harris in Manukau in 2004.

Mr Hill is also charged with assault and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court has been told that Mr Hill, who was not on duty at the time, was involved in a scuffle with Mr Harris when the pair were picked up by two officers.

Mr Hill is said to have assaulted Mr Harris in the back of a police car and chased him before Mr Harris was run down by a street-sweeper truck and killed.

The jury began its deliberations at 3pm on Tuesday.

Closing submissions

The Crown and defence made closing submissions earlier on Tuesday.

Crown prosecutor Stuart Grieve, QC, told the court the accused and Mr Harris were picked up by two on-duty police officers after Mr Harris tried to steal Mr Hill's phone and ripped his jacket.

The Crown says Mr Hill instructed one of the officers to drive around the back of a bank where he assaulted Mr Harris in the back seat of a police car.

Mr Harris escaped custody and was chased by Mr Hill before being hit and killed by a street sweeping truck.

The Crown says the jury should accept Mr Harris' decision to escape, because he had been assaulted. Mr Grieve says Mr Harris' death was a result of him being chased by the accused.

The defence told the court on Tuesday the Crown's evidence against Mr Hill was unacceptable and unreliable.

Lawyer John Haigh, QC, outlined what he said were several inconsistencies in the evidence of the Crown's key witnesses.

Mr Haigh says the two on-duty police officers who gave evidence have changed their story several times since the incident took place in 2004.