20 Oct 2016

Gable Tostee found not guilty of killing Warriena Wright

8:46 pm on 20 October 2016

Gable Tostee has been found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of New Zealander Warriena Wright, who fell to her death from his apartment after the pair argued.

Gable Tostee arrives in court.

Gable Tostee, in white shirt, outside the Supreme Court in Brisbane earlier in the trial Photo: Supplied / Kate Kyriacou

Mr Tostee, 30, was accused of killing Ms Wright, 26, after the two met via the dating app Tinder on the Gold Coast in early August 2014.

Ms Wright died after falling 14 floors from the balcony of his Surfers Paradise apartment.

The jury announced earlier today it had reached a verdict and the judge reconvened the court until 5.30pm (New Zealand time), with the verdict delivered about an hour after that.

Warriena Wright and Gale Tostee

Warriena Wright and Gable Tostee Photo: Supplied

During the trial, the court was told Mr Tostee restrained Ms Wright and locked her on his balcony.

The Crown argued that when Mr Tostee locked her out, Ms Wright felt so intimidated she died trying to escape.

The defence said Mr Tostee was trying to de-escalate the situation after a violent and drunken altercation, in which Ms Wright apparently threw rocks at the accused and tried to hit him with a telescope.

It argued Ms Wright's actions were not rational or foreseeable and Mr Tostee acted lawfully to defend himself.

The Crown argued Ms Wright "probably" unlawfully assaulted Mr Tostee, but the force used in response was unreasonable.

The court was told he continued holding her down, told her to leave and she agreed before he forced her onto the balcony - without her mobile phone.

He had started secretly recording their date on his phone about an hour before the fatal fall, with the recording becoming a key piece of evidence in the trial.

Mr Tostee, leaving the courtroom after the verdict, made no comment, but his lawyer, Nick Dore, said his client was very happy with the result and was relieved the matter was behind him.

"He thanks all those people who have supported him through this, and realises just how tragic this has been for many people," his lawyer said.

Wright family spokeswoman Deb Taylor said the trial had been "incredibly traumatic".

"As you may appreciate, Warriena Wright's family are still coming to terms with the loss of their daughter and their sister, as well as enduring the anguish of being present here for this trial this last two weeks," Ms Taylor said.

"They've been quite overwhelmed by the media, which has added another layer of stress to the trauma that they've already been experiencing.

"The family would like to make a request to all of you that you please respect their privacy now and when they return back to New Zealand, so they have an opportunity to put the pieces of their own lives back together again."

Four days of deliberations

The jury was in its fourth day of deliberations in the trial in the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

It had asked for advice from Justice John Byrne four times since beginning deliberations on Monday afternoon and had said reaching a verdict was proving difficult.

Jurors posed their fourth question to Justice Byrne yesterday afternoon, asking whether Mr Tostee's language could be considered to be force.

"The short answer is no," Justice Byrne replied.

He told the jury it should only be concerned about the "physical force" used by Mr Tostee, and whether or not it was more than reasonably necessary.

The judge had previously told the jury the degree of Ms Wright's intoxication should bear on their consideration on whether her decision to climb over the balcony was "a reasonable, rational or proportional response to the accused's conduct".

Responding to their suggestion on Tuesday they could not reach a decision, Justice Byrne said experience showed juries could often agree given time.

Mistrial application

Earlier this afternoon, Mr Tostee's defence made an application for a mistrial after a juror was found to have made several posts to social media site Instagram.

The person identified themselves as deliberating on the Tostee trial, making comments such as "ready for another hard day".

"I've snagged a nasty one, so it's a bit full on," the juror wrote, while locating themselves at the Supreme Court in Brisbane.

Justice Byrne rejected the mistrial application, ruling the communication did not show bias, nor did the juror discuss evidence.

He added he was disappointed the juror did not heed his directions not to comment to the case, especially on social media.

- ABC / RNZ

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