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Motel murder trial set to wrap up

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/04/2016
<p>Ihaia Gillman-Harris was killed at a motel in Epsom.</p> © NZ Police

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

A jury is set to begin deciding on the guilt of two teenagers accused of beating to death a man in an Auckland motel room.

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

On Wednesday morning, Justice Kit Toogood is expected to give his summary of the case before the jury of nine women and three men retire to begin debating their verdict.

The Crown alleges the two teens plotted a vicious beating - which would lead to Mr Gillman-Harris's death - over text messages from the back seat of his car while he drove them around.

The pair convinced Mr Gillman-Harris to withdraw cash from an ATM before he took them to a motel where they beat him and took his money, bank card and car, prosecutor David Johnstone told the jury.

But the defence said Mr Gillman-Harris was a predator who had lured the teens to a motel and plied them with alcohol before showing them pornography.

The boys had only attacked Mr Gillman-Harris in self-defence when he tried to sexually assault one of them and had no idea the two bottle hits over the head would kill him, lawyer Murray Gibson said.

Mr Gillman-Harris had a 15-year history of befriending young men before making sexual advances and had offered to pay the accused for oral sex, Mr Gibson said.

For the presecution, Mr Johnstone urged the jury to put aside any prejudice against Mr Gillman-Harris, saying his sexuality had nothing to do with the crime.

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

The trial, originally set down for four weeks, is now in its third.

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