17 Sep 2013

Murder trial told about battered woman syndrome

4:46 pm on 17 September 2013

An expert in battered woman syndrome will be the sole defence witness for a woman accused of stabbing her Mongrel Mob partner to death.

Jessica Keefe, 30, is on trail at the High Court in Wellington charged with murdering Sean Verma in January this year.

Dr Alison Towns today gave evidence of research she has done into battered women syndrome. However, she admitted in cross-examination that she had never met or assessed Ms Keefe.

The Crown claims Ms Keefe arrived home drunk and in an angry mood and stabbed Mr Verma.

However, defence lawyer Dr Donald Stevens, QC, said in his opening address Ms Keefe had used the knife in self-defence.

He said Ms Keefe told the police she could not remember if she stabbed Mr Verma or whether, as he lunged in to continue his attack on her, he had reached over to punch her and impaled himself on the knife.

Prosecutor Emma Light last week told the jury the relationship between Ms Keefe and Mr Verma was a violent one, and police had been called to their home six times before the night of the fatal stabbing.

Ms Light said on the night he died, Mr Verma was heard telling Ms Keefe to leave the flat and was seen dragging her by the hair towards the front door. Mr Verma was unable to leave the house as he was serving a sentence of home detention there.

Lawyers for both sides will make their closing addresses on Wednesday.