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Teen's defence of fatal bashing 'nonsense'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/04/2016
Beauen Wallace-Loretz (L) and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist (R) © NZ Police Beauen Wallace-Loretz (L) and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist (R)

A prosecutor has slammed an accused teen's defence of the fatal bashing of an Auckland man, calling it "nonsense".

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

Nattrass-Berquist was cross-examined by prosecutor David Johnstone at the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday, who alleged the two boys wanted to rob and beat up a gay man, and did so with a bat - although it has never been found.

Mr Johnstone highlighted a series of texts between both defendants, sent while the teens were driving around Auckland with Mr Gillman-Harris in the early hours of the morning, drinking.

Texts included "should we roll him?", "ima f*** a gay c*** up", and "hospital?" - alleged to be a question on whether they should beat him so badly he needed hospitalising.

The defendant said it was all based on bravado, as the boys were uncomfortable with a sexual proposition the older man allegedly made to Wallace-Loretz, offering him $1000, the defendant said.

But Mr Johnstone said neither teen indicated to the other they were joking about their plan to bash and rob the man.

"You were entirely serious about this," Mr Johnstone said.

He said it was apparent from the texts the teens discovered Mr Gillman-Harris did not have much cash on him, but they decided to beat him anyway.

Further texts such as "told you to let me bring my bat", Mr Johnstone said referred to a bat stashed by Wallace-Loretz in a bush at Pakuranga Mall.

Mr Johnstone alleged the teens convinced the man to drive them to the mall where Wallace-Loretz grabbed the bat and Nattrass-Berquist texted his friend "just do it at the carpark".

Ihaia Gillman-Harris © NZ Police Ihaia Gillman-Harris Wallace-Loretz said "I can't walk with it" and Nattrass-Berquist replied, "Just walk like an idiot".

However, there were too many CCTV cameras to beat him there so the teens pretended to agree to a sexual act with Mr Gillman-Harris and he drove to cash machines to withdraw $400, before heading to a motel room, Mr Johnstone said.

Once there they fatally beat him with the bat and took off in his car.

But Nattrass-Berquist says that the `bat' referred to in texts was actually a bottle of spirits in Mr Gillman-Harris' laptop bag, that he had shown the teens earlier.

Wallace-Loretz had managed to sneak it out of the bag while in the mall carpark, take off with it, and return it to the bag unnoticed, the defendant said.

He was then allegedly forced to use it to strike two blows to Mr Gillman-Harris' head later in the motel room, in defence of his friend because the older man was sexually attacking him.

A pathologist earlier said the older man suffered about five impacts to his head and serious bruising to his body.

Mr Johnstone said Nattrass-Berquist's claim the man assaulted him while his friend was present was "just a nonsense".

The trial continues.

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