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Homeless man manslaughter trial under way

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017
© NZ Police

The manslaughter trial of a man accused of causing the death of a homeless man on Christmas Eve is under way in the Hamilton High Court.

Neville Patrick Harris, 48, has been charged with the manslaughter of Tama Retimana, whose body was discovered by a kayaker in the Waikato River on December 27.

The court was told on Monday that an altercation took place between the two men following a prolonged drinking session at the river bank on Christmas Eve.

During the evening Mr Retimana, 29, decided to engage in sexual activity with his partner in front of the accused, which incensed the defendant, who punched the deceased in the face.

Harris told police that brought the victim back to his senses and they continued drinking.

However, Mr Retimana later repeated his behaviour but asked Harris to join in for group sex.

Angry, Harris attacked Mr Retimana, this time punching and kneeing him in the head. The victim fled into the river where he tried to swim away from Harris and drowned.

Autopsy results showed Mr Retimana was more than seven times over the legal limit to be able to drive, with 360mg of alcohol found in his blood. He also had cannabis in his system.

Crown lawyer Ross Douch told the jury that this admittedly did not help the victim but asked them to focus on the extent of the brutality that was committed against Mr Retimana which led to his fatal decision.

"See if you think there is this cause or connection between his going into the river with the violence dealt out by the defendant," he said.

Harris has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and his trial, which is set down for five days, will be in front of a jury of six men and six women.

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