18 Feb 2010

Jury retires to consider verdict in Templeman case

5:58 pm on 18 February 2010

High Court jury will resume deliberations on Friday in the case of a 16-year-old boy accused of murdering schoolgirl Libby Templeman in Kerikeri in 2008.

The bruised, semi-naked body of Miss Templeman was found face-down in a stream in an abandoned orchard on 1 November 2008, a day after the 15-year-old disappeared.

The Crown says the boy has admitted to police that he hit, choked and dragged an unconscious Miss Templeman to the stream.

The accused denies the murder charge and the defence has asked the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter.

Justice Raynor Asher summed up the case at the court in Whangarei on Thursday after closing addresses by the prosecution and defence.

Justice Asher said much of the evidence was not in dispute, including the fact that the boy punched Miss Templeman knocking her unconscious and that he had dragged her into the stream to conceal her.

However, the judge said the jury would have to decide if the accused was aware Miss Templeman was still breathing when he did that, and if he had deliberately placed her face-down in the water.

Justice Asher said those questions were relevant to the issue of whether the boy showed murderous intent, and whether the jury found the boy guilty of murder or manslaughter.

The jury began its deliberations at 3.30pm on Thursday before retiring for the night.

Closing arguments

The Crown told the jury that the only correct verdict is murder.

In his closing address, Crown prosecutor Mike Smith said deliberate acts by the boy killed Miss Templeman and she was killed intentionally to stop her telling police that he had assaulted her.

Mr Smith said the accused's lies about his actions continued throughout the case, including evidence he gave on Wednesday that Miss Templeman had stopped breathing when he dragged her into the stream.

Mr Smith said the evidence showed otherwise, because Miss Templeman died of drowning and the jury should find the boy guilty of murder.

The defence asked the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter. Lawyer Catherine Cull said the boy accepted he caused Miss Templeman's death by an unlawful act, but he did not have murderous intent.

Miss Cull said the boy had acted as a 14-year-old in a panic who did not want to get into trouble and his lies to police, friends and Miss Templeman's mother reflected that.