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Closing arguments put in murder trial

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/04/2016 NZ Newswire

  Beauen Wallace-Loretz and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist © NZ Police Beauen Wallace-Loretz and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist

Two teens charged with murder did not call police after fatally bashing a man over the head, allegedly in self defence, because to their "young, untrained, uneducated eyes", he only had a bleeding nose, a court has heard.

Leonard Nattrass-Berquist and Beauen Wallace-Loretz, both 18, are charged with the murder and robbery of Ihaia Gillman-Harris, 54, at the Ascot Motel in Epsom on December 27, 2014.

Nattrass-Berquist's lawyer Murray Gibson gave his closing address in the trial at the High Court in Auckland on Monday.

He said Mr Gillman-Harris was obsessed with the boys and it was possible he sought the company of young men who had not learnt to question wrongful behaviour.

He had a 15-year history of befriending young men with alcohol and cigarettes and making sexual advances, Mr Gibson said.

When he drove the boys to a motel room, after hours of driving around together, they were forced to defend themselves against a violent sexual attack.

Wallace-Loretz hit him over the head with a bottle of spirits twice to subdue him, but not to cause him serious injury, Mr Gibson said.

When they left the motel, his only visible injury was a bleeding nose and they could see no visible sign of serious head injuries, which a pathologist said caused his death.

Texts sent between the boys while in Mr Gillman-Harris' car earlier are alleged to show a plan to beat and rob him.

However, Mr Gibson said people frequently send text messages without considering the consequences, or whether they really meant what they were saying.

"How much value can you really put on a text message?"

Earlier, prosecutor David Johnstone urged the jury to put aside any prejudice against the victim because of his sexual preferences.

The defence was taking the "moral high ground" by emphasising Mr Gillman-Harris' lifestyle somehow made him more likely to sexually assault young boys, he said.

"What is it that makes a gay man more likely to be violent than a straight man? Nothing," Mr Johnstone said.

While the crown agreed on the older man's sexual preferences, his background provided no clues as to what occurred in the motel room, he said.

The text messages between the two defendants hours showed they planned to rob and beat the man, and ultimately carried that plan out.

Mr Gillman-Harris' injuries were consistent with being beaten and "totally overcome" without a fight, Mr Johnstone said.

He had suffered at least four, and probably five impacts to the head, caused by blows from a bat the defendants carried, not as they claimed, a spirits bottle belonging to the older man. The trial continues.

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