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Death of friend a tragic mistake: defence

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016

Prosecutors say Tione Tione left his friend to die in a pool of blood - but his defence argues it was a tragic mistake by an unwell man.

Auckland man Tione, 39, is standing trial accused of the murder of 42-year-old Troy Wright in Takanini last year.

Opening the case for the prosecution on Monday, Crown lawyer Yelena Yelavich told the High Court at Auckland Mr Wright died from a severe beating to his head and chest that left him bleeding on the floor of his one-bedroom home on the morning of 23 September.

She said Tione showed up at Mr Wright's house at about 5am - after having drunk some beers and argued with his brother - and a fatal fight ensued.

Tione had stomped, punched and kicked Mr Wright, later telling police Mr Wright had struck him first in an argument over a cigarette, Ms Yelavich said.

Despite advice from his brother and fears he had killed Mr Wright, Mr Tione chose not to call an ambulance, instead trying to clean up the scene and then using a payphone several hours later to call emergency services - even though he had a cellphone on him.

"He effectively gambled with the life of the deceased," Ms Yelavich said.

The two men had been friends for several months, both unemployed and living nearby, sometimes seen walking around Takanini collecting cigarette butts together.

Ms Yelavich described Mr Wright as living a simple and quiet life on the sickness benefit and being treated for schizophrenia.

Mr Wright's mother, Mary, told the court he had spent time in mental health facilities during his 20s after seeing his father die and had been a promising student, chess player and worked with computers in his youth.

But defence lawyer Mr Shane Cassidy told the court Tione himself suffered from bipolar and schizophrenia affective disorders and the thought Mr Wright would die never crossed his mind.

"It just happened. I was just really depressed. But it had nothing to do with him," he quoted Tione telling police in a four-hour interview without a lawyer.

"He was unwell and I was unwell. He was a really good guy. I didn't mean to do any harm."

The trial, in front of Justice Rebecca Edwards, is set down for three weeks.

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