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Unsecured room contaminated court hears

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/04/2016
Beauen Wallace-Loretz (L) and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist (R) © NZ Police Beauen Wallace-Loretz (L) and Leonard Nattrass-Berquist (R)

Motel staff began cleaning blood from the scene of an alleged murder before investigators had arrived because police didn't secure the room, a court has heard.

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.

The prosecution says the teens called Mr Gillman-Harris to pick them up from Pakuranga then convinced him to get cash out, before driving to the motel where they severely beat him, stole his money and took his Range Rover.

On Wednesday, Police Sergeant Anthony Turner, told the court when he arrived to do an examination of the room at 11.30am, about three hours after the alleged attack, he found it being cleaned by motel staff.

Two or three people had to be removed from inside, he said.

He was unable to say how many people had been in the room in the three hours or how contaminated the scene had become.

The first officer on the scene, Constable Ross Stewart, earlier said he had asked staff to lock the room before he left.

Police photos shown to the jury revealed a vacuum cleaner and two buckets in the middle of the blood-stained and glass-covered room.

Sergeant Turner said the motel manager apologised and said they had been trying to wash the blood out of the carpet.

A broken glass coffee table seen earlier in the room had been thrown into a bin outside.

Motel staff earlier told the court Mr Gillman-Harris' credit card had actually been charged $500 after the incident, before they realise what had happened.

The Crown says the teens planned the fatal attack, including putting him in hospital, over text from the back seat of Mr Gillman-Harris's car while he drove them around.

But the defence says Mr Gillman-Harris was a sexual predator who lured the boys, then 17, to a motel room, plied them with alcohol and tried to sexually assault Nattrass-Berquist while Wallace-Loretz was in the bathroom.

The beating had only been in self-defence, Nattrass-Berquist's lawyer, Murray Gibson, said.

The trial continues.

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