17 Oct 2016

'Spotless' murder case evidence adds up, Crown says

5:54 pm on 17 October 2016

Eleven pieces of evidence add up to prove a young Dunedin cleaner murdered his supervisor, the Crown has argued.

Alexander Merritt during closing statements at his murder trial.

Alexander Merritt during closing statements at his murder trial in the High Court in Dunedin. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

The trial of Alexander Merritt, which has been running for a fortnight in the High Court in Dunedin, is winding up today with closing arguments from both sides.

Karin Ross, 51, was found lying dead after being viciously attacked in the Spotless cleaning firm's car park last December.

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates told the jury that police had collected 700 pages of evidence.

Although that evidence was circumstantial, because there were no witnesses to Ms Ross' killing, that did not make the case any weaker, Mr Bates said.

He has been working his way through 11 key pieces of evidence, putting the Crown's interpretation on it, and explaining how the Crown believed the crime had been committed.

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates makes closing statements.

Crown prosecutor Robin Bates makes his closing statements to the court. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

That evidence included a bloodied hammer wrapped in a bloodied dark-coloured jacket that was found in a wheelie bin at the defendant's home.

There were very strong blood matches with both Mr Merritt and the victim, Mr Bates said.

In evidence, Mr Merritt's family members had recognised the type of glove found blood-stained in a wheelie bin along with the hammer. However, the family said they did not recognise the jacket.

Mr Bates said that was no surprise because he must have got a new one, which his family would not recognise.

Mr Merritt was a cleaner and could easily have picked up the hoodie from a lost property bin somewhere, Mr Bates said.

"If you are going to do something and you don't want to be recognised, then the last thing you would do is wear a top - your own top, that other people might have seen or could recognise."

The defence team said the jacket was a brown size 14 women's jacket.

Mr Bates said jurors should use their common sense to make the links between the evidence for themselves, to find Mr Merritt guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Mr Merritt's lawyer, Anne Stevens, told the jury that when Mr Merritt said he would like to see Ms Ross dead and burn her family, it was weeks before Ms Ross died and in response to her unfairly accusing him.

Defence lawyer Anne Stevens makes closing arguments on behalf of Alexander Merritt, in his murder trial over the death of Karin Ross.

Defence lawyer Anne Stevens speaks during today's closing addresses. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Ms Stevens said a mobile phone technician, Lawrence Watson, never tested Mr Merritt's phone, which was used as evidence, and was wrong about which model of Samsung phone he had.

She said the Crown could not produce any evidence showing the phone had ever been at the scene of the crime at Strathallan Street.

Ms Stevens said the Crown had tried but failed to prove any solid motive, as Ms Ross' complaints against Mr Merritt were basically trivial.

The Crown had promised a full bucket of evidence but the defence had shot holes all through it, and it could not hold water any more, she said.

Justice Davidson said he expected to sum up the case tomorrow morning before sending the jury out to decide their verdict.

Justice Nicholas Davidson at the High Court in Dunedin for the trial of Alexander Merritt.

Justice Davidson said he expected to sum up the case on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

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