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Jury retires in hammer murder trial

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/06/2016
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A jury has begun deciding on guilt of a man accused of bashing to death with a hammer the partner of a teen he was obsessed with.

Jiaxin Tu, 36, is charged with the murder of Shane Hawe-Wilson, 19, at a Panmure home in July last year.

Summarising the case before the jury in the High Court at Auckland retired to begin deliberating, Justice Christian Whata said whether Tu was suffering from a "disease of the mind" and whether he knew he was doing something wrong were the key questions that had to be answered.

During the trial, the Crown said Tu became obsessed with the young woman while they were neighbours in 2010, when she was just 12, and grew extremely jealous, even trying to pay a hitman to kill her then-boyfriend.

It was unclear whether the two had a sexual relationship, but the young girl took advantage of Tu's obsession with her to get him to give her money, cigarettes and other property over several years, prosecutor Kirsten Lummis said.

She said on July 1 Tu crept into the room where the teen and Mr Hawe-Wilson - her new boyfriend were sleeping - and struck the man over the head two or three times with a hammer, almost instantly killing him.

The girl slept for several hours, unaware, until Tu got into bed and tried to force himself on her, whereupon she woke up screaming and discovered her dead partner, she said.

But while there was no question Tu had attacked Mr Hawe-Wilson, his defence argued he was insane at the time.

Psychiatrist Russell Wyness said a combination of autism and delusional thinking meant Tu may not have realised what he was doing was morally wrong, possibly because he mistakenly thought he was in danger from Mr Hawe-Wilson.

He said Tu had increasingly shown signs of schizophrenia in the months before the attack and believed he was a god or Jesus at times.

But psychiatrist Peter Dean, called by the Crown, said despite Tu suffering from Schizoaffective disorder and his poor history of taking his medication, it was unlikely he was legally insane.

The trial is in its third week.

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