Bradwell on the Macdonald verdict

July 4th, 2012 at 9:38 am by David Farrar

There has been a trend in recent years for journalists who actually did sit through an entire trial and heard all the evidence, to then give their opinion on the verdict. I actually think this is a good thing. It means you at least get the opinion of someone who is not basing it just on the few hundred words summary every day.

Martin VB from The Press did an excellent article on why he thought David Bain, not Robin, was the more likely killer of the Bain family. Yesterday from One News wrote on why he thought the verdict for Ewen Macdonald was the correct one:

  is not guilty. 

In the eyes of the jury, and in mine.  …

But having sat in court for every day of the month-long hearing (bar one, out of sickness) I can say what evidence they didn’t consider, simply because it wasn’t presented. 

First, no witness to say they saw who shot in the early hours of 8 July 2012. 

No DNA evidence worth the candle; only possible traces (along with other people’s) on the farm shotgun that could have got there before or after the murder. 

No murder weapon; only the Crown claim that the farm shotgun could not be excluded as the weapon. Along with any other 12-gauge shotgun in the country. …

No forensic evidence. Not a labrador puppy hair, not a fingerprint, not a fibre. Even the dive boot evidence – meant to be a Crown trump card – was inconclusive. 

Making a case with no witness, no forensic evidence and no murder weapon is a tough call.

Increasingly, as the trial went on, no motive. As Ewen Macdonald himself pointed out during his police interview, if he was aggrieved at how little work Scott Guy did on the farm, what sense did it make to kill him? As a result, he was working harder than he ever had. 

I think though with respect Bradwell misses the point here. The intent was not to have Scott Guy work longer hours, but to have it leave the farm (which he admitted to). He was worried Scott would try and inherit the farm and there would be no place for him. Plus he resented the equal profit sharing for what he saw as unequal work.

But a motive by itself is not sufficient.

Famously, his composure did break as his wife Anna described their idyllic life before the murder. I was sitting two metres away, close enough that I could have passed him a box of tissues, as he sobbed. There is no doubt in my mind that his distress was genuine. 

His distress can be genuine but have nothing to do with innocence.

Greg King, Ewen Macdonald’s ebullient lawyer, carried himself with a swagger and a smile that extended to court staff, reporters, witnesses and the public. 

He told me two weeks into the trial that he was supremely confident. The conversation was off the record but he won’t mind me repeating it now that he’s a winner. 

He told me the Crown’s case was “non-existent” and he had never been more confident of an acquittal. 

That was evident throughout the trial, as he turned Crown witness after witness to his advantage, dismantling and raising doubts about their evidence. 

It’s hard to imagine anyone who enjoys the audience as much as Greg King. 

I remarked on Twitter yesterday that if I ever kill someone, I’m so hiring Greg as my lawyer :-)

As momentum built during the trial, it was not unusual to find 100 people waiting for seats in the public gallery. I asked several what the appeal was; most agreed that it was the “family feud” aspect of the case. 

All murders are a tragedy for the family, but this one perhaps more than most. Bryan Guy was reserved with his choice of words yesterday, and I suspect this was due to the fact that Macdonald is the father of some of his grandchildren. They will have the unconditional love for a father that most children have, and the Guy family will have the awful job of coming to grips with their own loss and grief, but also looking after the Macdonald kids as well as they can. They seem to be have that amazing Kiwi rural resilience, but this is the most testing of times.

Several compared the case to a Shakespearean plot. It was an analogy that’s easy to understand. The wise ruler trying to keep the peace between the two warring heirs. 

Even the Crown used the term the “flaw of fairness” in Bryan Guy; that in trying to treat both men equally a tragic situation developed. 

Ewen Macdonald remains in custody. So he probably will for some time, as he pays the price for the crimes of arson, vandalism and poaching that he’s admitted committing. 

But whatever else he may be, he will never carry the tag of murderer. And that, to my mind, is entirely correct. Justice has been served.

In terms of the principle that no person should be convicted unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt – I agree.

However I would venture to say that I don’t think we are ever likely to see someone else charged with the killing.

Jordan Williams asked on Twitter yesterday if we should go down the Scotland route and have three verdicts available – guilty, and not guilty.

I think this is worth considering. It isa fact that many people found not guilty are still assumed by many of the public to have done the crime. If the jury could return both a not proven and a not guilty verdict (both being acquittals), then those found not guilty would have less suspicion on them, and effectively have their names cleared – rather than just be found not criminally responsible. This is how the verdicts came about according to Wikipedia:

Historically, the two verdicts available to Scots juries were that the case had been “proven” or “not proven”. However in a dramatic case in 1728 the jury asserted “its ancient right” to bring in a “not guilty” verdict even when the facts of the case were proven (see jury nullification). As the “not guilty” verdict gained wide acceptance amongst Scots juries, Scots began to use “not guilty” in cases where the jury felt the “not proven” verdict did not adequately express the innocence of the defendant. 

There are arguments against it also, but a debate worth having. I am sure the Kiwiblog plethora of defence lawyers will tell me why I am wrong :-) I did like this reference to it:

In popular parlance, this verdict is sometimes jokingly referred to as “not guilty and don’t do it again”

Heh.

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101 Responses to “Bradwell on the Macdonald verdict”

  1. UpandComer (528 comments) says:

    I would have loved to have been a defence lawyer on this case. It was a case that the defence shouldn’t ever have lost.

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  2. iMP (2,356 comments) says:

    The Police statement, “we are pursuing no other lines of inquiry or seeking anyone else” on top of “if anyone else brings fwd further information we will vigorously investigate it” establishes the Police unequivocally believe they got the right man, that Ewen Macdonald was responsible for the killing of Scott Guy.

    They also agree with the jury, that they were unable to secure enough evidence to nail their man.

    It’s worthy to remember, that ED was not found innocent, but “not guilty” (due to doubt aka lack of evidence) a quite diff. thing. I therefore support the Scots 3-tier system.

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  3. tas (612 comments) says:

    Juries should just come up with a numerical probability of guilt. Somehow the legal profession prefers to invent a whole bunch of nonsense terms to express probabilities.

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  4. AG (1,823 comments) says:

    “It isa fact that many people found not guilty are still assumed by many of the public to have done the crime. If the jury could return both a not proven and a not guilty verdict (both being acquittals), then those found not guilty would have less suspicion on them, and effectively have their names cleared – rather than just be found not criminally responsible.”

    I think you are overstating things, DPF. Put it this way … if the jury had returned a “not guilty” (as opposed to a “not proven”) verdict in the Bain retrial (as there seems a fair chance it would have), would all the doubters out there have been reassured and could David Bain begin his life again without a shadow of on his reputation?

    Juries should stick to one job … deciding if there is enough evidence to justify putting someone behind bars for a very, very long time. Anything else is the job of the wider court of public opinion.

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  5. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    I’m enormously relieved that EM was found not guilty.

    As others have pointed out here on a previous thread, we have not heard all the evidence. However the evidence that was reported by media (grain of salt) together with the fact that the defence only called two witnesses lead me to believe that we should have got a “not guilty” verdict.

    I’m relieved that justice still stands in this country. That jurors – ordinary joes like you and me – can put emotion aside and make decisions based on the evidence and information provided is gratifying and good to know should any one of us stand in the dock being falsely accused. They are not swayed by emotive pleas from the crown prosecutor who, in my opinion, got a hospital pass when assigned (or asked for) this case. He knew that his case was bollocks as evidenced by his appeal in his closing argument that common sense must rule instead of evidence!

    What is also revealing is the police’s acceptance of the verdict. It doesn’t seem like an appeal is on the horizon. Why is that? Not enough evidence, perhaps? If this was the case, why prosecute in the first place and waste all this time and effort on a case so paper thin that it took just 11 hours for the jurors to decide and the defence counsel uses the prosecution case as his defence?

    Anyone who says stuff like “well I always thought he looked shifty” or this gem “I’m from the country and we know he’s guilty” should be ashamed. They belong in the 1700’s Salem crying “witch, witch!” That is pure and unadulterated scaremongering and hysteria – two things the law is designed to withstand and has no place in a modern legal system let alone a modern society. As for the argument “If not him, then who”, well just because the investigative authority cannot find out doesn’t mean we should just take the easiest target.

    I don’t condone what EM did to Scott and Kylee’s house. He has cases to answer and will “get whats coming” to him in that regard. However there are hundreds of arsons and vandalisms in NZ every year. Most don’t end in murder. So to apply a different set of standards to the Guy trial would have been sophistry and hypocrisy – the crowds baying for blood so lets give them what they want! It sounds more like the coliseum in roman times than a modern courtroom in a modern society.

    This Pack mentality that some people evidence is shameful and a huge blight on those people’s characters. To also suggest that we should change the standards by which people are judged smacks of a knee jerk – a law to be shaped when we want it shaped differently because, once again, we don’t believe the jurors at heart and somehow through the myopic lens of the media, we the people know best. I can only hope I don’t have any of those people in a jury should I every stand in the dock falsely accused. Grow up a little, New Zealand and start thinking with your heads rather than your emotions.

    The burden of proof is set high for a reason. Guilt should conclusively assigned. Not on a balance of probabilities, not on a gut feeling or intuition and certainly not out of pack fervour out for blood.

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  6. seanmaitland (498 comments) says:

    the thing is, everyone in NZ knows this guy is a total, evil piece of work, and he is going to be stuffed as people don’t forget. His family is ruined now. The best he could do is to move far away from here, as in NZ he will have a miserable life.

    I feel sorry for Scott Guy’s family and Ewen McDonalds kids – but Ewen himself will live a life as bad as if he was in prison – he will never be able to move on from what everyone knows.

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  7. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    The Police statement, “we are pursuing no other lines of inquiry or seeking anyone else” on top of “if anyone else brings fwd further information we will vigorously investigate it” establishes the Police unequivocally believe they got the right man, that Ewen Macdonald was responsible for the killing of Scott Guy.

    It does no such thing. It only shows that the police ran out of leads. What they or rather the Crown should have done was stay the murder charges for lack of evidence. For example, the police has a clear suspect in the case of Kirsty Bentley such that everybody in canterbury knows his name but lacking any clear evidence, they have to wait. As it is by bringing the case to court, they damaged any chance of bringing in a proper conviction.

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  8. metcalph (1,427 comments) says:

    What is also revealing is the police’s acceptance of the verdict. It doesn’t seem like an appeal is on the horizon.

    The crown can appeal only on a matter of law, not a not guilty verdict. There would have to be a significant cock-up by the judge (i.e. the Gwaze case) or the defence for that to even be considered.

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  9. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > three verdicts available – guilty, not proven and not guilty.

    But what’s the point of a not proven verdict? The guy has been acquitted, a not proven verdict is not going to change that. But why stop at onl 3 verdicts? There is one glaring omission from the 3 mentioned – innocent or likely innocent. A not proven verdict would be inappropriate without jurors being able to declare the defendant innocent or likely innocent.

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  10. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Police unequivocally believe they got the right man

    Well, I suspect some police continue to believe that Arthur Allan Thomas murdered the Crewes…we shouldn’t necessarily have a lot of faith in what police think. After all, for police to look elsewhere would mean they’d have to admit they may have made mistakes…police seldom admit to ever admit making mistakes.

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  11. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    I wonder that he did not testify if he was innocent. Would he not want to stand up in court and clear his name?

    Also one does wonder about the ability to not have to testify in court. To not be subject to cross examination in a court of law.

    It seems to me that if MacDonald was not the murderer then he is a very unlucky man. Someone has murdered his brother in law in a planned and methodical way leaving no clues for the police to follow up. And he has been falsely accused of the crime. And no one is speaking up for him and celebrating the acquittal of an innocent man. Why is there not some celebration if the man is innocent?

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  12. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    “Why is there not some celebration if the man is innocent?”

    Because other people out there who have not heard the evidence, put their intuition as being more right than 11 peoples logic.

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  13. tvb (4,330 comments) says:

    I am sceptical of a not proven verdict. Does it mean the case can be retried. But the crown makes the decision to prosecute the case when they think it is ready knowing an acquittal means the case is closed. The choice is theirs.

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  14. laworder (288 comments) says:

    I too agree with the Scottish system of having three verdicts available, guilty, not proven and not guilty, and I would envisage that a case with a not guilty outcome would not be able to be retried.

    I can understand why the jury returned the verdict they did in this case, the Crown case was simply not strong enough. It appears on a balance of probabilities that McDonald did it, but that is not enough to convict someone.

    The advantage of the Scottish system is that it allows for someone who is clearly innocent to have their name unequivocally cleared, which doesn’t happen at the moment, while also allowing for cases where the existing evidence is insufficient to convict to be retried later.

    Regards
    Peter J
    see http://www.sensiblesentencing.org.nz

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  15. Dean Papa (784 comments) says:

    anyone who would present himself on telly with spiky bleached hair is, by definition, an imbecile. Bradwell’s observations on the trial are therefore worthless. That he could even claim there was no motive demonstrates that he is as thick as the jury members. Bradwell also appears to have been as captivated by Greg King’s amateurish and leaden Johnnie Cochran impersonation as the clueless jury. No surprises there.

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  16. Will de Cleene (485 comments) says:

    should go down the Scotland route and have three verdicts available – guilty, not proven and not guilty.

    The last thing we need is a “Not Yet Guilty” verdict.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (3,282 comments) says:

    I remarked on Twitter yesterday that if I ever kill someone, I’m so hiring Greg as my lawyer :-)

    If you’re ever charged with murder or manslaughter, this is how we’ll tell whether you did it: if you hire Greg, we’ll figure you guilty, if you hire someone else, we’ll assume you’re innocent :-)

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  18. grumpyoldhori (2,361 comments) says:

    XChequer so would you say it would be wrong of Kylee Guy to take MacDonald to the civil court for damages over the death of her husband ?

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  19. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    “anyone who would present himself on telly with spiky bleached hair is, by definition, an imbecile.”

    Yeah, good call. By that standard, we should ignore the PM cause he lisps, Grant Robertson cause he’s a little paunchy and just about anyone else with a difference in appearance or mannerism.

    Quality observation, Dean.

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  20. F E Smith (3,304 comments) says:

    I would be quite happy with NZ going the three verdict route. I agree with Prof Geddis, however, that it would make little difference in a case like the Bain trial.

    I also disagree with you, laworder; I suspect that had there been a balance of probabilities verdict then Mr McDonald would still have been acquitted. The Crown case appears to have been founded on suspicion only, with no actual evidence of guilt.

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  21. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    Not at all, Grumpy. Why? It’s a legal right to recourse and if a jury or judge determines differently then so be it.

    However, given the weight of evidence apparently disposed at this trial, why would anyone conclude that it would have any different outcome than the one just landed?

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  22. Lance (2,629 comments) says:

    Dean Papa scribbled
    “as thick as the jury members”

    That is a very ignorant thing to write.

    I personally think Ewen McD is as guilty as sin but if you can’t prove it you are just speculating. Every jury I have ever been on consisted of a wide cross section of the community and everyone took their task very seriously.
    I guess you would be the wanker in the jury room who wouldn’t listen to the debate but just bullshit on saying shit like ” I don’t care what you say, I’m not going to give any reason, I think he’s guilty and that’s all there is about it”.
    We had a few like that and the others thought they were imbecilic.

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  23. wreck1080 (3,863 comments) says:

    @lance:
    “I personally think Ewen McD is as guilty as sin”

    Sounds like you think beyond all reasonable doubt .

    I personally would not think so strongly without evidence. In fact, there are quite a few facts that indicate it may have been someone else.

    The cops should continue investigations IMHO.

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  24. grumpyoldhori (2,361 comments) says:

    Lance very true, i have been on three juries,

    and each time I was impressed with the amount of effort people put into getting a verdict that went by the rule of beyond reasonable doubt.

    Of course as a member of the unwashed onlookers I can go by, that bastard just looks guilty :-)

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  25. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    DPF has got the wrong trial where he is discussing motive. He overlooks that things were settled between the 2 men, and that EM was considering moving to another farm – he is after all a hight quality farmer whose skills would go with him. I suspect that Bryan Guy appreciated that when brokering the 10% to each couple. MacDonald kept the financial powerhouse (the milking) going strong.

    I was surprised by the article. I thought it was insightful and gave me a better appreciation of both the trial but also the critical analysis skills of the author.

    XChequer 10.32. I’m with you on that. I was never totally confident that this case wasn’t heading toward a MOJ. Greg King’s confidence of an acquittal (and therefore the system,) as mentioned in the article, is also a reason to feel relief.

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  26. Jimbob (641 comments) says:

    Now that the dust has settled, it appears that there was no chance that Ewen Macdonald would ever be found guilty based on the prosecution’s evidence. Then the question the comes up is why charge him with the crime when he was going to be acquited? It seems cynical if it is just to just ruin his life.

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  27. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > I wonder that he did not testify if he was innocent. Would he not want to stand up in court and clear his name?

    Hmmm Peter Ellis stood up in court to clear his name. How did that work out? How exactly was Macdonald meant to clear his name? By denying the allegation? That’s exactly what Ellis did…

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  28. wreck1080 (3,863 comments) says:

    The more I think about this, the more I think the prosecuting authorities are incompetent.

    They had no evidence, only theories.

    Some supposed evidence even goes in Ewen Macdonald’s favour.

    Personally, I think a few heads should roll over this one.

    If myself, a layman , can figure out the cops don’t have a case, then, why couldn’t the cops?

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  29. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > The crown can appeal only on a matter of law, not a not guilty verdict.

    True in general, but if new and compelling evidence were to be found, Macdonald could be retried.

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  30. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    Very good question Jimbob 11.46. One that needs answering, particularly how Crown Law could not see the gaps in their own case. I don’t think it was cynical to ruin EM’s life, I think it is partly to do with the unrealistic pressure police find themselves under in some cases. I would prefer a situation in more complex cases (ie those that rely on circumstantial) a semi-independent evaluation was made of the prosecution file. To me, that would see police in the role of gathering evidence but not somehow being made responsible that it should fit a prosecution.

    Even on this thread there are those spitting vitriol at MacDonald for reasons unconnected with evidence or common sense. The exact people who with their howls of outrage shape public expectation in an unreasonable way. One case like this, and the outraged know it alls result in police not being respected for the job they so well undertake. The police don’t make the crime nor the evidence of lack of it, we need to respect that.

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  31. grumpyoldhori (2,361 comments) says:

    wreck1080 MacDonald was a good bloke who committed no crimes and should nail the police for besmirching his good name ?

    Now that is a powerful longbow you are tugging on.

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  32. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    Maybe it is just me but if you are innocent would you not want to testify? To stand up in court and give your side of the story. To look the jurors in the eye and tell them that you are an innocent man?

    Now if you were guilty and you had a good defence lawyer then he would say to you-do not testify,say nothing. The prosecution is denied the cross examination and so is the jury. Our adversarial system of justice often gets to the truth through cross examination. I am sure the public would have been much more convinced of his innocence if he had taken the stand and passed the test of telling first hand his side of the story.

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  33. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    Dear Scott,

    Yes, its just you.

    Regards,

    XChequer

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  34. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    Perhaps some wider publicity could be given to the views of tas, papa, maitland and Scott II amongst the criminal classes. The prospect of being tried with any of them or, horror, all of them on the jury would certainly give the most recidivist crim second thoughts. The downside I suppose is that the rest of us might be too scared to leave our homes for fear of being caught up in some incident and wrongly charged.

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  35. KH (694 comments) says:

    Bradwell says ”No Motive” Was Bradwell actually at the trial ?
    Consider Macdonald burning the old house. Consider McDonald destroying everything possible at the new house. Both extreme and major acts. Not Just a little lashing out.
    Those were the acts of a deranged and manevolent man. For which he had a motive, however loopy and unreasonable we might find that motive. This man was / is a timebomb.
    Oh — and all that was ‘last year’ so of course we should not think or it. Probably just went away – poof. this years Tui moment.

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  36. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    thedavincimode and xchequer- so you think he is innocent then?

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  37. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    Scott 12.01 You’re probably right – it is just you.

    Greg King’s advice was sound, so why would EM disregard it. He’d given his denials in a four hour grilling where I think he came across strongly in his denial of the murder.

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  38. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    The jury does….. and that should be the salient point for you too.

    I wasn’t in the room listening to all the evidence. Were you? Or are you going with your “gut” on this one?

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  39. laworder (288 comments) says:

    Scott wrote

    Maybe it is just me but if you are innocent would you not want to testify? To stand up in court and give your side of the story. To look the jurors in the eye and tell them that you are an innocent man?

    Quite possibly McDonald did want to do that, but his defence lawyer strongly advised him not to, for reasons unknown. I have heard of similar instances before. Personally I would wish to testify if I was innocent, but my hypothetical defence lawyer may tell me not to…

    Regards
    Peter J
    see http://www.sensiblesentencing.org.nz

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  40. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    “I am sure the public would have been much more convinced of his innocence if he had taken the stand and passed the test of telling first hand his side of the story.”

    Have you ever thought of becoming a stand-up comic? You’re well on the way.

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  41. Nookin (3,274 comments) says:

    “The more I think about this, the more I think the prosecuting authorities are incompetent.
    They had no evidence, only theories.
    Some supposed evidence even goes in Ewen Macdonald’s favour. ”

    Not altogether correct. They had evidence but there was conjecture as to the conclusions to be drawn from that evidence. One particular item might be quite equivocal. Many items (strands of the rope) might point in a particular direction. We do not know whether the jury accepted the strength of all of the strands but still said that it was not enough or whether the jury found that some of the strands were broken and what was left was not enough. There may even have been disagreement among the jury about the validity of some of the strands and that agreement may never have been resolved leading to the final outcome.

    The Crown is not allowed to cherry pick evidence and only produce evidence that points in a specific direction. It is required to lay out all of the evidence, including evidence that might be exculpatory.

    “Maybe it is just me but if you are innocent would you not want to testify? To stand up in court and give your side of the story. To look the jurors in the eye and tell them that you are an innocent man?”

    In this case, the jury had the benefit of seeing an extensive interview with Ewen MacDonald. His “defence” was laid out for them to see. If the explanation is clearly in front of the jury, and there are no other “gaps” to be filled, why would you want to give evidence? It is up to the Crown to prove guilt. It is not up to a defendant to prove innocence. There may well be cases where a conviction is inevitable in the absence of evidence on behalf of a defendant. This was not one of them.

    Why on earth would someone like MacDonald choose to pit his wits against an experienced barrister in an environment with which he is not familiar in circumstances where there is really little more to add to the statement that is already clearly before the jury? The defendant can only go backwards.

    In some cases, ego rather than commonsense might drive a person into the witness box (Clayton Weatherstone comes to mind) but I would be surprised if any experienced defence counsel would ever have suggested that MacDonald hop in the box.

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  42. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    I can see that basic comprehension isn’t your thing Scott. Maybe if I spell it out slowly:

    I……H…O…N…E…S…T…L…Y ……… D…O…N…’…T ………….. K…N…O…W.

    But I do know that I wasn’t at the trial, presumably you weren’t at the trial, and now an experienced criminal lawyer is suggesting that the evidence wasn’t even sufficient to prove guilt on the balance of probabilities; a much less onerous test.

    Beyond that Scott, I really can’t help you any more. You might try evening classes at the local high school.

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  43. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    Yes I understand your points about trial procedure and what a defence lawyer would advise. But you think he is innocent then? You think my opinions are so wrong but you will not state that you think him innocent?

    It is still an important question because Scott Guy and his wife and his family have not got justice.

    Does Scott Guy’s wife think MacDonald is innocent? No.
    How about his own wife?
    How about the Fielding community?

    If he is guilty then he has got away with murder. If he is innocent then he should have taken the stand. And cleared his good name.

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  44. alex Masterley (1,507 comments) says:

    Nookin,

    Mr MacDonald was interviewed for a considerable time by the police.

    That was disclosed to the jury, when 9 times out of ten defence counsel would have attempted to get the interview declared unlawful or in breach of the defendants BOR Act rights, or any other reason.

    My pick is that Mr King saw that and thought the interview was as good as it was going to get and did not object to the record of the interview being produced.

    And as you say why throw Mr MacDonald to the wolves?

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  45. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    Are you eligible to vote Scott?

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  46. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    thedavincimode- ah you are an agnostic then? Like why are you so insulting to those who do have an opinion if you do not? Why not find some thread on which you do have an opinion instead of being so smart to others?

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  47. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > If he is innocent then he should have taken the stand. And cleared his good name.

    Scott, you’re not getting it…how would he have cleared his name by testifying? Christ, Peter Ellis has been declaring his innocence for the last 20 years, but remains a convicted paedophile.

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  48. Viking2 (11,371 comments) says:

    DPF has got the wrong trial where he is discussing motive. He overlooks that things were settled between the 2 men, and that EM was considering moving to another farm

    Resentment never settles, it just festers away until there is a resolution.

    See The backgrouder on McD character in the paper today. Good indications of the mind of the man.

    Call Nigel Latter if you need an interpretation.

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  49. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    As a layperson I can see why McDonald would have been advised not to take the stand. The lack of evidence meant there was a very likely ‘not guilty’ verdict, why risk stuffing that up? What he said could hardly have improved his case, and a mistake or misinterpretation could jeopardise it.

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  50. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    Scott, in all sincerity, I only go out of my way to insult arseholes, stupid people and hypocrites in order to shake them out of their myopic, fucked up and/or bigoted beliefs and value sets.

    It is a thankless task, but God’s work must be done.

    Please rest assured that I don’t think that you are an arsehole or a hypocrite.

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  51. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    “It is still an important question because Scott Guy and his wife and his family have not got justice”

    You are almost right as justice was handed down to Ewan McD and the Guys in the form of a Not Guilty verdict. They haven’t recieved a full measure as the killer hasn’t been caught and tried yet. These are the facts Scott.

    “If he is guilty then he has got away with murder. If he is innocent then he should have taken the stand. And cleared his good name.”

    Once again Scott. Taking the stand has no bearing anywhere on guilt or innocence except for you. You a refusing the verdict. EM is not guilty. Accept it. Or are you saying that you know better?

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  52. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    Do you, or have you ever, Scott owned any Proline dive boots size 8.5 to 9.5?

    I only ask because you seem to know much more than the jury or the police.

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  53. Nookin (3,274 comments) says:

    Scott

    The choice is not between guilt and innocence. The jury has no power to determine innocence as a fact. The only issue is whether guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt. I don’t know whether he did it or not and I do not have the means to finds out. I would like to know, for sure, who killed the Crewes, Jennifer Beard and the Bains along with a number of other victims. Unfortunately, I will probably never know, just as I may never know, for sure, whether MacDonald did it. I may, if I study the evidence, decide that he probably did it but that is still not enough. Sometimes people get away with murder. In this case, it was MacDonald or persons unknown. You’ve just got to learn to live with that.

    Alex

    Agree. I didn’t see much of the interview, obviously, but if the police didn’t make any headway and MacDonald’s denial was clear then why try to exclude it?

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  54. Longknives (4,686 comments) says:

    “Ewen Macdonald is not guilty.
    In the eyes of the jury, and in mine. ”

    I call bullshit on Simon Bradwell… Let me guess- “exclusive ‘scoop’ interview with MacDonald is in the pipeline??
    Look at how supposed ‘impartial’ journalists swooned over David Bain after his trial..

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  55. KevinH (1,208 comments) says:

    Sadly for the Guy family their world has been turned upside down, shaken violently, and now they are no further ahead than they were at the beginning of this terrible tragedy. No answers, yet so many unanswered questions, the most difficult of situations.

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  56. grumpyoldhori (2,361 comments) says:

    No motive for murder ? Scott Guy at a family meeting saying that he expected to inherit the farm as the eldest son and if MacDonald wanted to stay on he could work for Scott Guy.
    A pretty powerful motive for murder if you married a farmers daughter expecting to end up owning the farm then the son who is at the top of the tree due to his name would have you back down to being just one of the hired help.

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  57. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    XChequer-no I do not own any boots like that,or have ever done so. However thank you for asking.
    But you seem to have a detailed knowledge yourself of the relevant footwear. Perhaps your property should be searched?

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  58. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Sometimes people get away with murder

    True…but convicting an innocent person is much worse than acquitting a guilty person. Convicting an innocent person for murder doesn’t change the fact that a murder happened…it magnifies the tragedy.

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  59. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    Agree with you grumpy.

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  60. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    “but convicting an innocent person is much worse than acquitting a guilty person”
    -never agreed with that premise sorry. Check out Proverbs 17:15

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  61. F E Smith (3,304 comments) says:

    To those people who say that they would want to give evidence if they were truly innocent, can I make a couple of points?

    Firstly, as pointed out above, McDonald had already made what sounds like a very good interview. That in itself is always a good thing to rely on in Court. Especially as a person’s memory in the interview will generally be better than 6, 9, or 12 months down the track when in the witness box.

    Secondly, please do not overestimate your ability to hold up to a tough cross-examination from a very experienced Crown Solicitor. They are not there to play nice. They will do their best to confuse you, to trip you up, to take the worst possible interpretation from what you say and use it to their advantage.

    Ha, exactly what we defence lawyers are always accused of doing!!!! :D

    An observation re the use of motive: I am always amused with the Crown’s approach to motive in a trial. If there is a motive then they will focus on it and say it is hugely important. If there doesn’t appear to be one, then they will say that it is not relevant, people do things for all sorts of unknown reasons and the jury should not worry about the lack!

    No matter how confident you might be in your innocence, I assure that standing up to a good cross-examination is not easy. As an accused person it is even tougher to come out of it with any credit at all. Stay calm and the Crown will say you are cold. Become passionate and they wiil say you are aggressive. Lose your temper and you may as well change your plea there and then! You only get one go at it, and if you have a bad day then you might have the next few years of prison time in which to regret it.

    My advice to a client is invariably that if they have given a good interview then they should not enter the witness box.

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  62. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    grumpy that situation existed at the time EM married, it didn’t just happen. Bryan Guy said that he felt EM interest in the farm was more his interest in the younger daughter. There was no evidence EM wasn’t satisfied with the 10% share he and his wife owned, while reserving their right to look elsewhere, buy a greater share and so on. In fact I think I read today that EM wanted to lift his share to 20% within a certain time period. But most of all killing Scott didn’t guarantee ownership of the farm – something you have overlooked completely.

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  63. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Check out Proverbs 17:15

    Are you unable to think for yourself?

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  64. Scott Chris (6,043 comments) says:

    Bradwell piece shows that you can sit through an entire trial and still be completely wrong in your conclusions.

    Of course Macdonald is the likely killer. Any other possibility is far less likely given the circumstantial context. Simple laws of probability.

    Boils down to over-analysis. Over-heats their poor wee brains. Can’t see forest for the trees.

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  65. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Simple laws of probability.

    Scott, a trial isn’t a probability contest. And you haven’t explained why Macdonald is the likely killer…some of the evidence presented by the Crown suggests that he is unlikely to be the killer.

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  66. trout (934 comments) says:

    Anybody have any ideas why Calum Boe (?) was not called as a witness? Apparently he is in clink for the vandalism but his account of his and EM’s ‘adventures’ would have been useful. Perhaps EM was wearing diving boots? Personally I think the prosecution was woeful (a mistake to use a provincial barrister – juries are attuned now to TV type hystrionics). EW did have motive and his actions overall point to a carefully planned strategy of building up to the ‘coup de grace’ by staging events that would suggest that outsiders were involved in criminal activity on and around the the property. There are other charges against him (besides the vandalism and deer slaughter) that have had details suppressed.

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  67. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Personally I think McDonald had a romantic interest in Kylee Guy….and it came to a head and he offed Scott. His actions with the home burning etc cause me to wonder….

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  68. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    More patronising nonsense from Scott Chris.

    So trout, was EM also responsible for the drunken caller at a nearby farm looking for Scott. Or the cigarette packet dropped at the scene from a burglary 4 days earlier for which another party has been convicted. The tyre mark on the driveway as well, the neighbours hearing shotgun blasts that morning when he was at home turning off his alarm having got up for the day? Do you suspect he had arrangement with the local gangster who was robbing people under arms at the time as part of his carefully planned strategy.

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  69. F E Smith (3,304 comments) says:

    trout,

    Ben Vanderkolk is not a provincial barrister. He is the Crown Solicitor for Palmerston North. He holds a solicitor’s certificate and is somewhat experienced in these things.

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  70. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    Boils down to over-analysis.

    You really are a fucking idiot Scott. That’s why I find you so amusing. :P

    scorned

    I guess the Police are just too stupid to have considered that possibility….

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  71. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Nostalgia-NZ, can you elucidate the basis for these statements you made?

    1) “things were settled between the 2 men”
    2) “EM was considering moving to another farm”

    I saw nothing in the trial coverage that suggested that either strongly enough to be stated as fact.

    EM’s motivation for working on the farm (Anna) when he was a teenager has little to do with the situation 10 years later when he is well settled into his adult life.

    Indeed there was evidence at the trial (towards the end of the prosecution’s evidence) that shortly before the murder both Ewen and Anna had been concerned about some issues with the running of the farm, but they were told by the mother IIRC to not worry about it. (Shortly afterwards Scott was dead.)

    From your comments it sounds like you would therefore assume that Ewen did as his mum-in-law said and didn’t worry about it, but I don’t think that’s reasonable myself.

    Scott Chris, I think Ewen probably did it as well, but there just wasn’t enough evidence to link the murder to him, IMO. It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that he did it, but not the only possibility. This is why I think the Crown prosecuted the case, but they might have been a little too confident in what they had.

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  72. projectman (209 comments) says:

    Well argued XChequer at 10:22 am and later. It’s pleasing to see some rational discussion on the matter, which is sadly lacking in many other posts.

    By the way, most people accused of murder do not put themselves in the witness box. Why should they? The onus is on the Crown to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

    One thing we can conclude from this verdict is that not one of the 11 jurors thought EM guilty. If just one did, the jury would have come back unable to reach a verdict, i.e. a hung jury. Looking at it the other way, all 11 thought him Not Guilty.

    So, to all those who think EM guilty – get over it. You don’t have any basis for concluding this. The process we have has delivered.

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  73. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    david@tokyo

    1) Evidence was given by a number of witnesses that after Ewen and Scott returned from the SI conference they were getting on better. The comparison was made between then and earlier evidence of the family meeting on the farm where Scott asked for ‘his’ inheritance.

    2)The discussion about moving away from the farm was given in evidence by Anna MacDonald who was against the idea.

    Yes there was evidence regarding Mr and Mrs Guy also returning from a later SI conference with some new plans for the farm. Mrs Guy reassured her daughter that the couple had no reason to be concerned about what those plans were.

    It’s very reasonable to assume that both Ewen and Anna accepted what her mother said, by that time the couple were shareholders and their concern may have been no more that mum and dad may have decided to sell their majority share. In a summary in today’s herald described that MacDonald had intentions to raise the couples share to 20% over the next few years.

    But even if any inroad could be possibly made into these facts, MacDonald had nothing to gain by Scott’s death – unless you know of some reason that wasn’t raised at the trial. If that point were reached however with some ‘new’ evidence, the mechanics of the scene that morning fail the Crown – which is the reason many people seem to be expressing the view that the Crown were pushing things uphill with imagination and the wrong size footprints.

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  74. Scott Chris (6,043 comments) says:

    @david@tokyo

    Not sure I agree that the crown should have prosecuted the case even if they were convinced he was the culprit. The physical evidence was very thin. Waste of money imo.

    [projectman] One thing we can conclude from this verdict is that not one of the 11 jurors thought EM guilty.

    I disagree completely. All we know is that none of the jury was convinced of Macdonald’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Big difference.

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  75. niggly (817 comments) says:

    Question: If MacDonald was found not guilty by the jury, has already spent 15 months in custody, then why won’t the authorities release him until his next court appearance at the end of this month on those vandalism charges?

    Is it normal to keep someone who vandalised property in jail until their court appearance? I wonder how many other vandals are simply bailed until their court appearance?

    Ok, perhaps the stakes are higher in this situation, but I hope the Police/prosecution have good reasons for doing this, lest they come across as holding a grudge and/or MacDonald seeks redress from the authorities later.

    [DPF: he is charged with arson, that has a maximum sentence of 14 years.]

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  76. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    The physical evidence was very thin

    :lol:

    What about the imaginary evidence Scott? I guess that was pretty solid was it? :D

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  77. projectman (209 comments) says:

    Scott Chris at 4:06 pm

    Yes, I could have added the words “beyond reasonable doubt”, but that doesn’t alter the situation in that if just one of the jurors thought Macdonald guilty on the balance of probabilities (say), he/she could have stood his/her ground and not agreed with the Not Guilty verdict of the other 10.

    The possible voting situations were:

    11/11 Guilty beyond reasonable doubt
    11/11 Not Guilty
    and in between those a mixture of Guilty beyond reasonable doubt, Not Guilty and “I can’t decide” (a hung jury).

    A hung jury is equivalent to some extent to the Scots Not Proven.

    I have to disagree completely with your comment that “All we know is that none of the jury was convinced of Macdonald’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt”. It is quite logical to conclude from the verdict that none of the jury harboured any doubt about his Non-guilt.

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  78. F E Smith (3,304 comments) says:

    Niggly,

    Arson is not the same as vandalism. As DPF pointed out, it has a much higher maximum sentence.

    With regards the bail issue, he still hasn’t been sentenced following the guilty plea for the arson, and a sentence of imprisonment is almost certain in that matter. Therefore, to allow bail the judge would essentially be saying that there is no way the sentence will be more than 45 months, and that before he has heard from Crown or Defence on the issue. That would not be a good idea.

    More simply, s13 of the Bail Act says that a judge must not grant bail unless it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that it would be in the interests of justice in the particular case to do so. Given the almost certainty of a prison sentence, I think it would be nigh on impossible to argue that bail would be in the interests of justice.

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  79. Jimbob (641 comments) says:

    Plus he is up on other charges that are suppressed.

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  80. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    I think it would be nigh on impossible to argue that bail would be in the interests of justice.

    Nor in the interests of Macdonald given the prospect of him being lynched by a psychic vigilante squad comprising Kiwiblog’s armchair experts.

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  81. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > [DPF: he is charged with arson, that has a maximum sentence of 14 years.]

    But if you know anything about sentencing, those convicted of arson typically receive a fraction of that sentence. Maybe 2-3 years at most.

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  82. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Ths guy was sentenced to only 8 months imprisonment for burning down a school, and that came after he had been convicted of 5 previous arson attacks!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3934429/Arson-a-day-before-home-detention

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  83. RF (1,371 comments) says:

    I am having trouble accepting that 3 shots were fired in quick succession. Difficult if a two shot shotgun was used and if a pump or semi auto was used.. Where are the empty shells ? I own both pump and semi autos and confirm that ejected shells can finish up some distance away. Not the sort of thing you would spend valuable looking for in the dark if you have committed a murder and want to leave the scene in a hurry.

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  84. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    Not only that RF you need to collect 3 puppies on the way and you’re getaway vehicle is a push bike.

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  85. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    … not to mention, travel back in time …

    That’s some fast pedalling right there.

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  86. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    projectman says:.

    ………………Looking at it the other way, all 11 thought him Not Guilty…………………..

    Yea but yea but, about the only bit I paid any attention to in the whole thing was that in his directions the Judge told the jury he wanted a unamimous verdict as one juror had fallen over. So, no pressure on 11 civilians involved in the most complicated thing most will ever endure in their lives

    FES or Graeme would a 10 -1 or 9- 2 been enough for a verdict?

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  87. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Paul,

    Judges typically tell jurors that they should return a unanimous verdict, but that isn’t always possible. There are several on here who are adamant he’s guilty, so presumably they would’ve have held out in the jury room. I think 10-1 would’ve been acceptable but am not sure about 9-2.

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  88. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Ross

    Yea but alot of tough shadow boxers on here- I know there can be enormous weight brought to bear on a stop out juror,

    I was interested in the 10-1 though, thats getting close.

    Figjam Power was looking at minority verdicts being acceptable a while back but thats not something I’d be keen on even though I think jury trials are like witch burning, they’ve had their time

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  89. happyornot (1 comment) says:

    XChequer, love your comments.
    It amazes me some of the ignorant posts that have been made!

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  90. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > I know there can be enormous weight brought to bear on a stop out juror

    Well, in the old days, for sure, because there were no majority verdicts then. But today majority verdicts mean that stop out jurors can’t affect the outcome. What’s a minority verdict?

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  91. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    He was looking at 9-3s or similar, not minority my wrong word but slim majorities , basically he was looking at there being no chance of a a hung jury to keep the wheels moving.

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  92. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    PEB

    Reviewing what we know, in particular the things the prosecution was unable to string into the narrative – should this have gone ahead?

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  93. Dazzaman (1,138 comments) says:

    Viking2
    Resentment never settles, it just festers away until there is a resolution.

    Yeah exactly.

    I’m sure even small instances of perceived favouritism by the senior Guys or lapses back into the competitiveness between Guy & Macdonald would’ve been enough to tip Macdonald back into his seeming dark head space.

    King painted, not without some supporting anecdotal evidence, the relationship between Guy & Macdonald as improving leading up to the murder. He may be correct….but the earlier actions of arson/property damage do tend to indicate something more calculating & diabolical lurks within him. The logical end point of hate & envy is murder….at the extreme end.

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  94. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    The Scorned (284) Says:
    Personally I think McDonald had a romantic interest in Kylee Guy….and it came to a head and he offed Scott. His actions with the home burning etc cause me to wonder….

    “romantic” – really? Given what he did, if there was any feelings for Kylee they were sick and twiseted.

    Someone said that Scott and Ewen had been getting on better but if you’re in a long running feud with someone and decide to kill them then you’re not going to continue to be nasty to them as that would just make you the polices’ first port-of-call. He was into long term life planning so I don’t think it’s impossible that he could made a long term plan over this.

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  95. Anthony (789 comments) says:

    Anyone with any experience or has had tuition on interviewing people over wrongdoing would know that when the suspect doesn’t give an outright, “No, I didn’t do it”, like MacDonald did, then it is a very good indication that they did do it. If you were accused of murder would you just say “Ah no, I’m not that pscyho”?

    In fact, an innocent person is more likely to get angry at a false accusation.

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  96. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Nostalgia-NZ,

    I guess I might have missed or forgotten some of that later evidence, I’d like to go back and check it again sometime. But I’m still not really especially impressed with the idea that Ewen was quite happy with mum-in-law’s assurances, not from what my memory recalls of reading the trial coverage at the time anyway (although of course I should double check again)

    But as for Ewen having nothing to gain from the murder, for me this seems essentially irrelevant given what we know of the guy. He’d already taken huge risks with his life by his arson and vandalism (and apparently 3 other previously unreported crimes that we’ll hear about later at his sentencing). I don’t see how those acts were supposed to be of great benefit to him either – and in all cases he took the risk despite the risk/reward trade-off being extremely poor in my estimation – but the thing is he had got away with crimes initially, and perhaps for him this skewed the trade-off more favourably.

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  97. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    This piece from “Jimmy Ellingham, who sat through every day of the murder trial” sits better with me than does the Bradwell piece.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/7218901/Jury-left-with-little-choice

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  98. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Wanted to add that Ellingham does say some things I disagree with – like the idea that Ewen wouldn’t make a few Freudian slips such as insisting that Scott had been shot didn’t make sense. If he was the murderer, then at this point in time he would have been feeling a hell of a lot of pressure, and very eager indeed to see that the mystery appeared the way he planned it. Not hard to make mistakes under pressure.

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  99. Nostalgia-NZ (5,101 comments) says:

    david@tokyo

    The Judge when summing up told the Jury that the trial wasn’t a test of character and the evidence of other offending had been admitted for various reasons. You are leading into an area that ‘could’ be relevant if there was direct evidence supporting EM as killer but there just isn’t. Others here want to look at the depths of resentment and speculate on that, the apparent ‘anger’ associated with the earlier crimes – all however speculation. EM is not a well-settled cookie. He married young and was a devoted father according to his wife. His thrills came from hunting, maybe because of his early marriage and farm life he was somewhat stifled and acted recklessly in ‘another’ life.. Kids burn down school houses, an All Black shoots seals and so it goes on – but to prove the kid will be a life long arsonist or worse, or the All Black a violent anti-social requires evidence beyond the facts that go to the heart of an alleged crime – didn’t happen in this case. So even if EM is the very worst some here suspect him of being, that remains suspicion and nothing more.

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  100. OpenMind (54 comments) says:

    Dazzaman (890) Says:
    July 4th, 2012 at 11:20 pm
    Viking2
    “Resentment never settles, it just festers away until there is a resolution”.

    “Yeah exactly. The logical end point of hate & envy is murder….at the extreme end”.

    Is that right Dazzaman? You and Viking2 must be well researched criminal psychologists to have such an authority on these matters. You can even tell what Ewen MacDonald ‘would have’ been thinking in a parallel storyline. Amazing insight you have.

    “I’m sure even small instances of perceived favouritism by the senior Guys or lapses back into the competitiveness between Guy & Macdonald would’ve been enough to tip Macdonald back into his seeming dark head space.

    Sorry, but I believe both of those statements are contradictory and bollocks. Resentment can settle, and the resolution to stop resenting can in fact be the resolution. It appeared Ewen’s resentment towards Kylee and Guy came to a resolution when he decided to stop being a twat, buy her a present, bless the house, be a more involved Dad and husband etc. She would probably still get on his goat as would Scott and his ‘big-picture’ thinking but the point is he took steps to resolve his inner conflict.

    And saying “the logical end point of hate & envy is murder” is a load of paradoxical bollocks. Murder is surely an ‘illogical’ end point. I could name a hundred people right now who either openly or in secret bitterly resent and envy others, who would never in a million years contemplate murdering the object of their resentment. You know why? Because ‘they’re just not that psycho’.

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  101. Dazzaman (1,138 comments) says:

    @OpenMind, like every arsehole, including yourself, we all have an opinion. You’d be no more schooled about these matters than anyone else I’d say.

    Resentment can settle, and the resolution to stop resenting can in fact be the resolution.

    Really? I wouldn’t call burning down one house & busting up & defacing another a little matter that just needed settling by buying a gift or two. Are you that naive? Any steps he took were probably to assuage his guilt at that time but I doubt those actions would go even part way to establishing some sort of ‘resolution’ to his resentment.

    As for your other point, well it is the logical endpoint of all hate & envy…of course not for everyone (do I have to clarify that for you, lol) but not everyone takes it to as extreme a point as arson & property damage either. What was that you were saying? Pft!

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