The lawyer for a man convicted of murdering a publican at the Red Fox Tavern in 1987 today told a court the Crown’s evidence was circumstantial and did not prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The man, who cannot be named, and Mark Hoggart were in 2021 sentenced to life in prison with a minimum parole period of 10 years for murder and aggravated robbery.
Publican Chris Bush was shot dead at the Maramarua pub in October 1987 and the offenders fled with more than $30,000.
Today at the Court of Appeal in Wellington, the men appealed their convictions.
They watched on via video link as defence lawyer Christopher Stevenson began arguments on behalf of his client.
Stevenson said the Crown’s evidence fell “way, way short” of the threshold required to prove his client was guilty.
“The overall picture was not good enough,” he said, also picking apart specific pieces of evidence.
Stevenson said the evidence was not reliable because the trial took place more than 30 years after the murder, describing that as an enormous delay.
“Delay in this case very much undermines at multiple points on the evidential road, the evidence itself, the reliability thereof.”
He said it also meant the defendant was unable to respond fairly to the allegations.
Stevenson also argued that the evidence against another man – Lester Hamilton – was far stronger.
A prison inmate had told the court in 2021 that Hamilton confessed to the murder.
Stevenson said the Crown did not argue Hamilton’s innocence beyond reasonable doubt.
The court will hear from Hoggart’s lawyer and the Crown tomorrow.
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz