Honeymoon killing: Jury out in Te Anau strangling murder trial

A jury is deliberating whether Balclutha man Rodney Fallowfield murdered his wife Shirley Reedy.

Fallowfield had admitted he killed Reedy on May 15 last year, but denied he intended to do so when he was strangling her.

Justice Jan-Marie Doogue summed up the casethe High Court at Invercargill yesterday morning and the jury started deliberations about 12.50pm. The jury was unable to reach a verdict by 5pm and will resume deliberations this morning.

Justice Doogue told jurors whether they knew strangulation would lead to someone’s death did not matter. What they had to decide was whether Fallowfield had an actual appreciation there was a real and substantial risk death would follow in the strangulation of Reedy.

“You must stand in his shoes when you answer that question,” she said.

“You have to be sure that he knew that death was a likely consequence and went ahead and took those actions, regardless of the risk.”

She said the defence’s argument was the Crown could not prove that Fallowfield intended to kill.

“In other words they say to you the Crown can’t prove what was in his head at the time,” Justice Doogue said.

Justice Doogue went thoroughly through the main parts of the Crown and defence cases in her summing up.

She said there were five main parts to the Crown’s case: the physical evidence to the mechanism of death (strangulation); the physical injuries Reedy suffered; the injuries Fallowfield suffered; the statement he made to police including when he mentioned he thought he was over his hatred and anger; and the evidence of a woman who had been strangled by Fallowfield more than 30 years ago.

The defence case was that while Fallowfield accepted without reservation he had killed his wife, “whether as to Mr Fallowfield had the requisite state of mind to be guilty of murder, they say he did not”, the judge said.

“Nor did he know that his actions were likely to cause her death.”

The defence had put forward that all Fallowfield wanted to do was to make Reedy quiet.

It also said nothing that happened earlier in the day, before Fallowfield strangled Reedy, indicated murderous intent.

The jury also has to consider, if it does not find Fallowfield guilty of murder, a manslaughter verdict, which meant the Crown had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Fallowfield had caused more than trivial harm when he applied pressure to Reedy’s neck.

If they did not believe the Crown had proved this, then a not guilty verdict should be returned, Justice Doogue said.

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