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Jury hears how teens planned fatal attack

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/04/2016
Beauen Wallace-Loretz and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist © NZ Police Beauen Wallace-Loretz and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist

Two teens planned the severe beating that would kill Ihaia Gillman-Harris while in the back seat of his car as he drove them to an Auckland motel, prosecutors says.

But one of the accused's lawyers says they were only trying to defend themselves from a sexual predator.

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

Opening the case for the prosecution on Monday, Crown lawyer David Johnstone told the jury the pair had plotted a violent robbery over text as they sat in the back seat of Mr Gillman-Harris' car while he drove them around Auckland. "G, should we roll him?" a message from Nattrass-Berquist to Wallace-Loretz read, Mr Johnstone said.

The pair had asked the 54-year-old to give them a lift from Pakuranga as they had done in past, the prosecutor said, adding he had on occasion bought them alcohol.

<p>Ihaia Gillman-Harris was killed at a motel in Epsom.</p> © NZ Police

Ihaia Gillman-Harris was killed at a motel in Epsom.

Nattrass-Berquist texted he wanted to put Mr Gillman-Harris in a hospital, Mr Johnstone told the High Court at Auckland. "I'm a f*** a gay c**t up," one message read.

The Crown said the pair then convinced Mr Gillman-Harris to withdraw some cash from an ATM before he took them to a motel where soon after they severely beat him with a bat and then took his cash, bank card and car.

Motel employee Jaswinder Singh told the court Mr Gillman-Harris was dazed and speaking incomprehensibly as he stumbled to reception after the alleged attack.

"Entered from the back door" were the only words that could be made out, Mr Singh said.

The court earlier heard Mr Gillman-Harris had snuck the teens in through the rear of the motel.

Mr Singh said he found a laptop in the room bloodied and smashed and a coffee table broken.

CCTV footage of one of the teens.  © NZ Police CCTV footage of one of the teens.  Despite emergency surgery, Mr Gillman-Harris died later that day in Auckland Hospital.

But Nattrass-Berquist's lawyer, Murray Gibson, said Mr Gillman-Harris was a "predator" who had lured the boys to the motel.

He said Mr Gillman-Harris had leapt on Nattrass-Berquist and tried to sexually assault him after the teen had rejected pornography he tried to show him while Wallace-Loretz was in the bathroom.

The teens had then fought him off in self-defence and had no intention to kill him, he said. Mr Gillman-Harris had plied the boys with bourbon and coke and offered to pay Wallace-Loretz for oral sex earlier that day, Mr Gibson said.

The texts just showed their disgust at the proposal, he said.

"Why else would a 17-year-old boy with two jobs and no previous convictions find himself in these circumstances?"

The teens, who were 17 at the time, have also pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated robbery and taking Mr Gillman-Harris' Range Rover. The trial is set down for four weeks.

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