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Pulemoana v R [2019] NZCA 293

09 July 2019

Decision

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Summary

Appeal dismissed.
Evidence - admissibility.
Criminal practice and procedure -juries. Criminal law - inconsistent verdicts

Mr Pulemoana was found guilty of the murder of James Fleet and the manslaughter of Raymond Fleet. He appealed his convictions.

Did a Crown witness give evidence that resulted in a miscarriage of justice?
Held, no. Evidence given of what a co-offender had told witness about Mr Pulemoana's involvement, in particular that he had placed James Fleet in a headlock shortly before he was killed, regrettable but no miscarriage of justice caused. Nothing deliberate or improper in way evidence introduced; while "headlock" was uttered it was indistinct; even if the jury did hear it, significance unlikely to be fully appreciated and jury given clear directions it was inadmissible.

Did the Judge err in refusing to discharge a juror (Mr X)?
Held, no. Mr X attended two antenatal classes run by James Fleet's mother (Ms Fleet) approximately 14 years ago; Ms Fleet and the juror's wife had been Facebook friends and had limited online interactions six to seven years ago. Mr X was unaware of the Facebook contact, had no other interactions with Ms Fleet or the Fleet family, and confirmed he could approach task with an open and unbiased mind. Nothing which might lead a reasonably informed and fair minded observer to apprehend or suspect he might not have discharged his duty in an impartial manner.

Was Mr Pulemoana's murder conviction unreasonable because it was inconsistent with the manslaughter verdict for Mr Hora?
Held, no. Factual inconsistency arises where given the evidence two verdicts cannot stand together. There is no inconsistency where verdicts are reconcilable because of differences in the nature and quality of the admissible evidence. Verdicts reconcilable; differences founded in nature and quality of evidence relative to Mr Hura's and Mr Pulemoana's respective cases.