You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Murder-accused admits assaulting inmate

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/06/2016 Cleo Fraser

One of three men accused of murdering a fellow inmate at Christchurch Men's Prison has admitted bashing the man and says he would plead guilty to manslaughter.

Steven Betham, Levi Reuben and Akuhatua Tihi are on trial in the High Court at Christchurch charged with beating Benton Parata so severely on March 25, 2015, that he died in hospital six days later.

The trio deny the charge.

However, Tihi's lawyer Phil Shamy told jurors in a short opening address on Tuesday that while his client denies having murderous intent, he does admit assaulting the 44-year-old and accepts he is guilty of manslaughter.

The court heard earlier the Crown will argue Tihi played a main role in the attack and that he was motivated by the fact Mr Parata told him off for stealing a radio from an older inmate.

Prosecutor Deidre Orchard said CCTV footage shown during the trial will reveal the trio were in Mr Parata's cell before he was found by a guard lying on his bed injured.

Mr Parata received multiple blunt force injuries to his head, face and neck after being repeatedly stomped on and punched while he lay unconscious on the floor his cell.

"That means that the punches and kicks were delivered to a man who was unable to protect himself and that is a matter that you will find significant," Ms Orchard said.

It's alleged the bashing lasted less than two minutes.

Ms Orchard said jurors will be shown letters Tihi sent to a family member saying he and two others had put someone in hospital.

The Crown is expected to call 40 witnesses during the trial.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon