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No evidence against kidnap accused: lawyer

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/11/2016

A lack of the evidence against one of the accused in a kidnapping trial is the crux of his defence, his lawyer has told a jury in the High Court at Rotorua.

Benjamin Dwyer, 28, is on trial with eight others, who have pleaded not guilty to 62 charges, laid either separately or jointly.

These include kidnapping a wealthy businessman and his maintenance worker in February last year.

The other defendants are Stephen William Daly, 33, Jordan Alexander Christian, 21, David Peter Clark, 36, Brent Anthony Gunning, 37, Liam John Kane, 24, Matthew John McDonnell, 45, Stacy Walton Dennis Paora, 29, and Sam Wiremu Rolleston 23.

One of the charges Dwyer faces is robbing the businessman's girlfriend of her cellphone a month earlier.

His layer Tony Rickard-Simms said Dwyer didn't realise when he went to her apartment looking for the cellphone she'd handed it over. Dwyer had wanted it because of photographs she'd taken on board the businessman's launch where Dwyer's partner had been injured.

Referring to the woman's account of her encounter with Dwyer, the lawyer said her judgement had been impaired by using P in conjunction with prescribed medication.

He said Dwyer's involvement ended at the apartment, he had not been at the businessman's Mt Maunganui storage shed where the man's employee was kidnapped, nor had he been at Rotorua where the businessman was roughed up or at Tarawera when the businessman was abducted.

He said there were no fingerprints or DNA to rely on or evidence of cellphone messages linking Dwyer to any of these places.

Dwyer was clearly not at the businessman's remote farm when property was being extorted from him or present when he withdrew $10,000 from a Taupo bank.

Similarly there was no evidence Dwyer was involved in the theft of the businessman's VW Polo car or truck.

Referring to heavy machinery belonging to the businessman found at Dwyer's property, Mr Rickard-Simms contended it had been stored there by its owner.

He reminded the jury, the businessman's identification of Dwyer from a police photo montage was made after two days of interviewing during which he'd gone without the P he was addicted to. This, he said, made it suspect.

Mr Rickard-Simms is the first defence lawyer to make closing submissions.

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