Brian Edwards Media

Not Guilty. Why it will not be the verdict of us all.

stuff.co.nz

There were two verdicts in the Scott Guy murder trial. In the first, a jury found the accused, Ewen Macdonald, Not Guilty; In the second, Scott’s widow, Kylee, declared Macdonald guilty, when she screamed, ‘He killed my husband!’ These were the last words spoken at the trial.

It is interesting to speculate which verdict will resound most with the general public. My guess is that it will be the second.

There’s precedent to support that opinion. A Not Guilty verdict in high profile murder trials, relying on circumstantial evidence,  is rarely accepted as the last word by the man and woman in the street.  Arthur Allan Thomas and David Bain, not to mention OJ Simpson,  provide excellent examples.

This morning I decided to recruit my own jury. During our morning walk, I approached 12 adults, some of whom I know well, some with whom I have only a passing acquaintance. I’d say they were a reasonable cross-section in terms of gender, age and socio-economic status. I asked each of them whether they believed Ewen Macdonald had killed Scott Guy. All 12 said they believed he had. When questioned further, all but one agreed that, given the available evidence, the Not Guilty verdict was the right verdict in law.

Several commentators have expressed the view that justice has been served in this case. It’s true that the requirements of the law with regard to the trial of an accused person have been met. Patently there was reasonable doubt . But I doubt whether anyone other than Ewen Macdonald knows for certain whether justice has been served.

That is the problem with ‘reasonable doubt’. The doubt remains at the end of the trial. Nothing has been resolved. 

Since 1728 Scottish courts have had three verdicts available to juries in criminal trials: Guilty, Not Guilty and Not Proven. Not Proven seems to fit pretty well with the concept that the guilt of the accused must be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ – the middle ground between Guilty and Not Guilty.

Some commentators have therefore suggested that we should add Not Proven to the list of available verdicts in this country, particularly where evidence in the trial is largely or wholly circumstantial. But it seems to me that this is mere semantic juggling. In the minds of our man and woman in the street Not Proven will be even more likely to be translated as Guilty than Not Guilty  under the same circumstances.

In a book on murder in New Zealand which I co-authored with Mike Bungay QC in 1983, Bungay observed that jurors often had difficulty following the complex forensic evidence in murder trials and tended to rely on their instinctive impression of witnesses and of the person in the dock. If that is true of jurors, who are at least present throughout the trial, hear all the evidence and are guided by the judge on how to proceed, it must be doubly true of the average person who’s read about the trial in the paper and seen clips on the television news.

 Most of us will come to a view on Ewen Macdonald’s guilt or innocence on the basis or our impression of the players in this drama and, for want of a more satisfactory term, our common sense.

We will not be persuaded to avoid the conclusion that the terrible things Macdonald first denied and later confessed to having done to Scott and Kylee’s property are highly relevant to the question of whether he later killed Scott. We will ignore the judge’s advice that no adverse conclusion may be drawn from Macdonald’s refusal to enter the witness box or face cross-examination. We will interpret the police’s statement that they will not be looking for anyone else as meaning they remain satisfied that Macdonald is the killer. And the words screamed by Scott Guy’s widow on hearing the verdict, ‘He killed my husband!’, will ring more loudly in our ears than any argument advanced in court. Kylee  Guy has no doubt that Ewen Macdonald murdered her husband.

None of this detracts from the fact that Not Guilty was the only possible verdict. But it will not be the verdict of us all.

86 Comments:

  1. I personally think he is guilty; however guilty or not Ewen MacDonald is an extremely disturbed and nasty individual.

  2. I think he dunnit, but only because the over-egging of his lawyer. Greg King has watched too much LA Law and taken too few acting classes.

    BE: I must say King’s performance was one of the most extraordinary I’ve seen in a court of law. ‘Crazed’ was the term which came to mind. But of course he isn’t and the fact of the matter is that his cross-examination, particularly on the bootprint, probably won the case.

  3. Macdonald’s increasing bizarre and dangerous behaviour leading up to the murder – the graffiti, burning the old house, trashing every window and wall in the new one, removing Kylee’s puppies… all points to a mentally unbalanced person who harboured evil thoughts towards Scott & Kylee.

    I think the judge got it right when he told the jury, “This isn’t a whodunnit.” I believe that the jury got it wrong, but that’s our justice system for better or for worse.

  4. For me, the reporting of this case invoked a number of other issues, quite apart from the verdict, regarding the spectacle created for our prurient interest every night on the news, and worse, how given a jury of his peers found Macdonald not guilty, his opportunities in New Zealand may well be such it will make no difference. Surely we need to look closely at privacy issues regarding how criminal cases are dealt with by the media, which is a topic I’d rather see you comment on in this blog, Brian.

    BE: I can’t follow this argument at all. The more people are able to see what goes on in a court of law, the better surely. The exercise of justice should be as transparent and open as possible. Prurience doesn’t come into it.

  5. 5

    John Discorganiser

    It seems reasonable to suggest looking at “not proven” as an option for jury trials. There was reasonable doubt, yet so very much compelling circumstantial evidence.

    BE: My point was that the public will simply regard it as a synonym for ‘guilty’.

  6. The dynamics within the jury would be interesting, I wonder how they all got to the same conclusion, I wonder if the jury heard something we did not?

  7. 7

    jennifer hampton

    I truly believe that unless we sat through this laborious trial…we should not a judgement make !

    BE: Well that would mean that almost none of our 4.4 million citizens would be able to make a judgement.

  8. I think I see what Mark Hubbard is getting at Brian. I too want open and transparent judicial proceedings and I want our media to report cases calmly, soberly and factually. If there are important points of law at stake I want to have those explicated to me (I’m not a lawyer but I’m interested as a citizen in our laws, what they mean, and how we administer them). But I don’t want to know what the reporter’s impressions of how the defendent and the witnesses feel and respond are. As with much of our reporting these days in the Scott Guy case the media have gone very downmarket and tabloid on this case and that serves the interest of no-one except the sellers of advertising in newspapers and on TV. What i have found particularly irritating is the way the families have been inveigled into playing along with it.

    BE: “What i have found particularly irritating is the way the families have been inveigled into playing along with it.” I think that gives the parents in particular little credit. That the coverage has tended to the tabloid, I agree. But Scott’s parents have shown extraordinary courage in fronting the media and have given most of us an extraordinary insight into the toll which this has taken on the family. And I believe they did so willingly. The process may even have been cathartic for them.

  9. Brian, per my linked blog post, why is ‘the more people are able to see what goes on in a court of law’ better? Transparency in a nonsense in respect of a case like this one: none of us were in the court. Unlike the jury, we haven’t got all the facts, and if you’ve served on a jury you’ll know that what is reported on the news, and the slant on it, can run counter to the facts as being debated by the solicitors.

    Although, even regarding all of that, vis a vis my blog post again, I don’t care about the audience, only the participants, and particularly the defendant: what use is a not guilty plea when you will spend your life governed by an uninformed public opinion of you formed by watching sound bites on the six o’clock news? Remember Lindy Chamberlain speaking to that effect just last week?

    The point of my post is simply that, outside rare cases of public danger, as decided by the police, all criminal trials should grant name suppression as of right, until verdict. The media should be in the court, but again, embargoed until verdict. And if not guilty, then you tell me what an man found innocent by a jury should then have his life destroyed in the bush court of people’s uninformed opinion. In the case of a not guilty verdict, there should be permanent name suppression.

    It’s about privacy. And how how disregard of same to the defendant, here, reflects the disregard of the state to our own privacy.

  10. Sorry, typo, that’s … you tell me why a man found innocent by a jury (transparency) should then have his life destroyed in the bush court of uninformed public opinion? In the case of a not guilty verdict, there should be permanent name suppression.

    But my first linked post explains all my rational.

    BE: My answer to your question is that trials can’t be conducted in secret. As citizens we have the right to see what goes on in our courts. We can’t just read the outcome of a trial in the papers once the trial is over and trust that everything was done properly. That’s an invitation to injustice and corruption.

  11. Brian, you make the proposition, ” But I doubt whether anyone other than Ewen Macdonald knows for certain whether justice has been served.”
    I would have to say, that if there was another protagonist, who may have carried out this crime , he would also know! Correct?
    I don’t know who did it. However, after following what has been reported in the press, I would appear to me that the case against McDonald has not been proven and I would rather, ( without prejudice to the accused) a guilty person go free than an innocent person be convicted…..

    BE: You’re correct. If someone else killed Scott Guy, then they may be the only person who knows who did it. I don’t see the relevance of your last sentence. A guilty person going free or an innocent person being convicted – why should these be regarded as alternatives? We presumably don’t want either.

  12. As awful as all this is for Kylee Guy, in her grief and loss she is not able to have a rational view of the situation so hardly the best judge. It’s not hard to imagine the Police reassuring her they had the perpetrator and her taking their word as law. Many people naively believe if the Police say it, so it must be so. There have been many cases of the “evidence” being made to fit the person they have in their sights. Yes it’s natural for people to make the link between the vandalism and the murder, but – lets face it circumstantial is only circumstantial, and nothing more. I think that everyone wants to believe he is guilty despite the lack of evidence is more a judgement on us as humanbeings. The mob likes nothing better than to believe in guilt over innocence.

    BE: I never suggested that Kylee had a rational or dispassionate view. My point was that when the widow of the murdered man openly accuses the defendant of killing her husband immediately after he has been found not guilty, the effect on the public will be considerable.

  13. as abopve

  14. I think ewen will crack within the next six months

  15. If the jury were swayed by lawyer Greg King’s “crazed” performance, then they are a bunch of sheep herders rogering one another.

    The Herald’s Anna Leask, described King’s summing up as “highly intense and almost theatrical at times”. But it was far worse than that; it was sickening farce. The exaggerated gesticulations and histrionics, embellished by the modulated cadences that accompany the rising-and-lowering of the voice, to be punctuated by those “tension-inducing” pregnant pauses.

    It was emotionally manipulative as it was cringingly awful; redolent of a novice film student producing a poor remake of the
    1950s-60s’ Perry Mason Show. Yuk!!

  16. I’m not saying conducted in secret. Media should be there. But up to, or in case of, not guilty verdict, permanent name suppression should apply. All the facts, otherwise, can be reported.

    If I have initiated force or fraud on no one, then my privacy trumps the public’s right to know what the state believes I may, or may not, have done, until they can prove their case. It’s the civilised classical liberal society where the state is my servant, and I am a free man, versus the semi-police state social democracies we’ve voted in, where society has become a reality TV show, and we are forced to live our lives in the public arena, at the beck and call of bureaucrats, even though we may have committed no crime.

  17. I actually though King’s manic performance would freak out the everyday Kiwi jury so much that they’d tune out on bis rave which would’ve been counter-productive to the defendant..turned out I was wrong !

  18. 18

    My personal favourite-

    Lawyer King- Why would someone go and point out mistakes at the murder scene if they had done it?

    Viewer watching- Cause he’s nuts!?

    The Herald today was embarrassing- 9 pages of coverage. A reality show without a title has slunk in…

  19. The Police need to present a better case,it seemed like wing and a prayer stuff to me.Running a trial to satisfy public opinion doesnt serve justice well.Whatever the theatrics of King The Police may have guessed the outcome before the trial started

  20. As far as I could see, there was no real “evidence”. The media has sensationalised the strange actions of McDonald. As for the families , they spent a lot of time as witnesses but again offered no evidence for the murder. Greg King must have been thrilled with the completely circumstantial case put forward by the prosecution.

  21. 21

    Surely this issue is fairly simple. The evidence presented proved MacDonald could well have done it but not that he did do it.

    No comprehensive evidence was presented that any other known person could well have done it – but that does not prove no such person exists.

    I agree with pjr though the police may have been misled about the conclusiveness of the forensic footprint evidence which basically got destroyed at trial.

  22. “We will ignore the judge’s advice that no adverse conclusion may be drawn from Macdonald’s refusal to enter the witness box or face cross-examination.”

    Will we? The jury certainly didn’t ignore the judge’s advice. Jurors seem to have taken it very seriously. As for your comment that “We will interpret the police’s statement that they will not be looking for anyone else as meaning they remain satisfied that Macdonald is the killer”, that is a typical police response post-trial. Since when did police ever say after a trial “We may have made a mistake”? The police, it seems, don’t make mistakes, or, if they do, are reluctant to publicly admit to doing so.

    The police case again Ewen Macdonald was very weak. The evidence points away from him being the killer. He began the trial with the presumption of innocence and ended the trial in the same position. Any other conclusion is wishful thinking.

    BE: You’ve totally missed the point. I wasn’t recommending these approaches, I was simply laying out the reality of public reaction to this sort of verdict. There will remain a widespread and probably majority view that Macdonald was the killer.

  23. What was the last word on the three shots in quick succession from witnesses, and this not squaring up with the prosecution’s contention that a double-barrelled shotgun being used (that takes seven seconds to reload)?

    Or did I miss something there? Apologies if so – I don’t have a TV and avoid printed daily matter like the plague!

    However, as the years pass, I see more and more shades of grey in life, as opposed to black and white, and it is absolutely possible that somebody other than McDonald shot Guy. Possibly somebody paid by McDonald?

    Ultimately my gut fees tells me that McDonald is guilty. The elements fit too well, as does the evidence pointing – my opinion – to a guilty David Bain.

    In other words, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so :-)

  24. This trial will be etched in New Zealand criminal history and ranks alongside The Arthur Allan Thomas case and The Bain trial for the intrigue and sensationalism. Books will be written about it, there might even be a movie. Greg King is a relatively well known lawyer, but after this trial he has probably become New Zealands modern day number one defence lawyer and his hourly rate probably doubled after the jury delivered their verdict.

    What the police lacked was that one piece of evidence that absolutely tied Ewan McDonald to the murder scene such as a finger print or witness seeing him there. I think hes guilty, along with most of New Zealand, so when he is released from prison for arson he will always be a guilty man walking no matter where he goes in this country.

  25. Interestingly, Brian didn’t mention that Brian Guy also lied to police. What negative inference (if any) should we take from that? Should we say, for example, that since he lied to police, he might be capable of a terrible crime? I would hope not.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/crime/news/article.cfm?c_id=30&objectid=10811322

  26. New Zealand Herald news nadir: what became of the surviving puppies? Seriously?
    http://nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10815097

    Sample:

    Sue was affectionately known as “gannet-guts” for her propensity to eat anything. At tea time they’d say “Suzie” and she’d go and sit in her kennel and wait for dinner.

    Oh dear. Not a journalistic triumph.

  27. 27

    Jennifer Tooseman

    Re the “boot” not being size 9, the size of footwear Ewen MacDonald claimed he wore. Many farmers, when buying boots, buy them several sizes larger than their usual shoes so that they may wear several pairs of socks with them. Particularly if they use the boots for hunting, when they will be out at night in very cold temperatures!! So the size of the boot(11?) is not necessarily proof that it was not Ewen MacDonald’s boot!

  28. Jennifer,

    You might be correct that the size of the boot is “not necessarily proof that it was not Ewen MacDonald’s boot!” But unfortunately, the police never identified the boot that made the print. It could have been a size 9 or it could have been larger. It could have been a Proline or it could have been another brand. Whatever the truth, it seems that the boots owned by Macdonald had been discarded some 2 years prior to the murder. That’s evidence which surely points to someone else being the killer.

  29. I agree with your 12 acquaintances Brian. I also think that if the jury had been asked whether MacDonald was guilty ‘on the balance of probabilities’ (this, I understand, is the level of proof for civil rather than criminal courts – as per the OJ Simpson cases) then the result might have been different. ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’ is a much higher standard of proof. I also wonder whether juries require a much higher level of definitive forensic evidence a la CSI and that a jury from an earlier era – say the 1960s might have found him guilty. Not making a value judgement here, but just saying that times have changed.

    BE: Very interesting and thoughtful comment, Jeanette.

  30. Jennifer

    The other point is that Macdonald did buy size 9 boots, they were not any bigger than that. But the defence suggested that the boot impression left at the scene of the crime was bigger (or maybe a different brand) because of the number of wavy impressions that it left.

  31. “Not making a value judgement here, but just saying that times have changed.”

    I’m sure you’re right, Jeanette. Since the 1960s the police have disgraced themselves on a number of occasions in high profile cases. For example, AA Thomas, Bain, Ellis, Watson, Lundy, Tamihere, Dougherty, Farmer, etc. The public are now more aware than ever before that they cannot and should not automatically believe what police say. My grandparents, who have since passed away, seemed to be in awe of the police and were of the belief that they could no wrong. Times have certainly changed.

  32. “There will remain a widespread and probably majority view that Macdonald was the killer.”

    That may well be true, but it doesn’t necessarily count for much, especially if those reaching that view know little about the case.

  33. 33

    I wonder what the other crimes are that Ewen has admitted too which were determined by the judge to not be able to be disclosed to the jury and a thus currently suppressed.
    I cant see why a past crime cannot be known to the jury especially when a large section of many prosecution and defence case is based on the accussed character.

  34. I find the prejudice demonstrated here against MacDonald disturbing.

    I do think all those who are of the view that Ewen Macdonald is guilty ought to consider this just-released statement from his parents….

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7226376/Jury-got-right-verdict-Macdonald-family-say

    What we do know is that, out there somewhere is a killer. For the Police to say they are not looking for anyone else is either strategic or irresponsible. The word of the jury must be accepted – indeed the Police have publicly accepted their verdict (and this is the very reason for having a trial). Now, in my view, they must be seen to go out to find the perpetrator, and the truth. Where their search leads to is anyone’s guess.

    BE: I very much doubt that the police have accepted the jury’s verdict. They are resigned to it. That is an entirely different matter. Their view will almost certainly be that they already had the perpetrator. What they didn’t have was sufficient hard evidence to gain a conviction.

  35. 35

    Mr Stokes, that is actually what the police have said they will do should any new evidence come to light, they haven’t permanently closed the case .

    The timing of his parents statement is interesting considering its before he is sentenced on the other charges and the suppressed charges he was found guilty of.

  36. Martin Hector – presumably you are happy for the Police to sit on their bottoms waiting for something to happen while a killer walks free?

  37. 37

    Charlene McDannold

    John,
    I have considered the just released statement of his parents and it does not change my belief that Ewen Macdonald is guilty of the murder of Scott Guy. It is not prejudice but my considered opinion based on extensive, detailed following of the trial. I also heard the details of the other 3 charges on the National Radio (they jumped the gun re: the suppression order and have since retracted the item, based on legal advice) and I was even more shocked(if that is possible), at what Ewen is capable of. I know I am straying here, but who in their right mind would want Ewen Macdonald as a neighbour, or even a member of their community, based solely on the 6 charges he has pleaded guilty to. Thank god, Callum Boe has a consience, otherwise Ewen Macdonald would continue to believe he is invincible, continue living a life of lies, and who know what other crimes he would have committed. I hope he can get psychological help, because he seems to have some of the attributes of a sociopath. Sociopaths are absolutely capable of deceiving every one, including those closest to them, and sadly even themselves.

  38. @John Stokes: “Martin Hector – presumably you are happy for the Police to sit on their bottoms waiting for something to happen while a killer walks free?”

    Not quite. He’s still in custody, pending sentencing for taking a splitting ax to EVERY wall of a new house, trying to burn down another dwelling, and writing vile graffiti about Scott Guy’s wife.

    I’m unsure as to what behavioural metric you’re using to assess the seething pent-up rage that impels someone to commit those kinds of deeds revealing the pathological rage, and not understand how natural the progression is to…

  39. “should any new evidence come to light”.

    But no new evidence may come to light. Besides, didn’t police admit during the trial that there were many suspects? Wouldn’t it be prudent to closely examine the main suspects, given the possibility that police overlooked something, or a suspect’s alibi might be false? Wouldn’t that be good policing?

    I was surprised to learn that police didn’t do a thorough check of all the boots that could’ve made the imprint at the crime scene. Why not? Incredibly, the boot that the Crown presented as evidence couldn’t have been the same boot which caused the imprint. That is lazy police work at best and incompetence at worst.

    Out of interest, did any police officers try to re-create what the Crown suggested Macdonald did on that fateful morning – ride on a push bike at 5am while carrying a shotgun and 3 puppies?

  40. There is much that displeases me about our justice system (delays, jury composition, suppression of names,evidence and records, antagonist format ….)

    but I choose to focus on the conventions:
    that nothing will be read into somebody exercising their right to silence . Yeah, right.

    that other cases and convictions will not be introduced into a trial. In this case, the courts’ powers of suppression are of much greater practical effect. In most cases they kept out of the jury’s consideration. But should they?
    Ewen MacDonald seems to be a serial night predator, with something close to a compulsion to commit well planned outrages in the hours of darkness, and be the socially responsible school trustee,parent and farmer by day.
    Surely no jury can make a proper decision of such an offender if trials are restricted to the one offence and others cannot be considered as evidence ?

  41. @Ross

    You wrote:
    —–
    Whatever the truth, it seems that the boots owned by Macdonald had been discarded some 2 years prior to the murder. That’s evidence which surely points to someone else being the killer.
    —–

    Well, what if Macdonald just kept the boots for two years. Wife couldn’t recall throwing them out or not (who can, after two years, when the significance of such things is only known in hindsight?).

  42. Further to my previous post, it seems police were indeed lazy, as the following report shows:

    After Scott Guy was murdered, police recorded how long it took to get from his place to Ewen Macdonald’s place down the road. Detective Glen Jackson was in charge of the murder scene investigation.

    The Crown alleges Macdonald shot Mr Guy outside 293 Aorangi Rd, before biking back to his house, 147 Aorangi Rd.

    In February this year Mr Jackson and Detective Laurie Howell returned to the street to conduct some timing experiments.

    It took Mr Howell 3 minutes 44 seconds to bike between the two houses. He then walked the 1.47 km in 12 mins 4 secs.

    Defence lawyer Greg King asked if Mr Howell carrying three puppies and a shot gun. Mr Jackson said he was not, and that the experiment took place at 11.36am in the summer, not in the dark.

    They had not tried to take the bike from the garage or return it afterwards.

    Mr King also asked if Mr Jackson had found any evidence of a bike being used.

    “I didn’t find anything to suggest a bicycle was there,” Mr Jackson said.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/7128537/Jury-shown-Macdonald-confession

  43. 43

    “the police may have been misled about the conclusiveness of the forensic footprint evidence which basically got destroyed at trial.”
    The only thing that Greg King established about the boots was that the sample on display couldn’t have been the boot that left the imprint. The extra two wavy lines is meaningless. The soles will have been cut from a sheet and then trimmed. The measurement of the imprint that the scientist gave was that the length of the sole matched a size 9 boot and that was the issue at stake. Not the number of ripples on a closely rippled sole. Still, if he conned the jury with that we shouldn’t be surprised. There are others (see above) who have also missed the point.

  44. 44

    Charlene
    I wish i had heard that National Radio disclosure of these suppressed charges. Its a shame that you cant interview the jury here to see if the suppressed charges may of changed their minds

  45. 45

    Ross, i didnt hear that bit in the case but three puppies in a backpack and a shot gun isnt going to send you backwards, Ewens a big fit outdoor worker

  46. Someone said:
    What was the last word on the three shots in quick succession from witnesses, and this not squaring up with the prosecution’s contention that a double-barrelled shotgun being used (that takes seven seconds to reload)?
    ~~~

    One explanation could be 2 shots from the shotgun plus the echo from the second shot, the echo from the first shot being masked by the actual second shot.

  47. @ John Stokes – what we know is that the killer of Scott Guy is probably Ewan McDonald and that the prosecution lacked that one piece of vital evidence to link McDonald to the murder – see my earlier entry. What we also know is that McDonald is not walking free, he is in Manawatu prison and hopefully he will receive a long sentence for the weird and violent actions perpetrated against the Guys prior to the murder. As for McDonalds parents being”at peace with the verdict”, that is understandable from parents who are supporting their child.

  48. > but three puppies in a backpack…

    So the police found a backpack with puppy hair inside? No, they didn’t. How about producing some evidence pointing to Macdonald.

  49. Like many here my gut feeling told me he is guilty, but as I heard the evidence, it became clear, much of it wasn’t clear.
    I find the timing argument a real problem as as a dog person – the idea that he put three 8 week old labrador puppies in a backpack and rode on a bike back home – they would be fear howling – not to mention their size and dexterity…. a real mystery – that yes only the killer can resolve.

  50. Number Eleven

    You don’t appear to have looked at the evidence very closely. Police essentially admitted that they hadn’t done a thorough search of what type of boot might have made the impression at the crime scene. It may have been some other boot, not a Proline. Wouldn’t it have been prudent to look at what boots could have made the impression rather than doing a half-arsed job?

  51. 51

    Ross I think Ewen had near on a year to discard such a backpack, mine often dont even last that long.
    Mr Guy misled police by saying he had his gun locked up when he knew he didnt and only changed his story after Ewen was arrested. I thought that was quite dodgy and a crime too

  52. Martin

    You’re speculating again. Where’s the evidence pointing to Macdonald? That’s not an unreasonable request. Police did, after all, spend 9 months investigating the case before they charged him, and continued investigating after that. What evidence did they uncover during that time?

  53. 53

    Ross ive finished speculating apart from what the suppressed charges are about.

  54. 54

    Charlene McDannold

    I would still like to know what you personally think, Dr Edwards. about the likelihood of Ewen MacDonald being the murderer of Scott Guy.

  55. 55

    Number Eleven, the prosecution had ample opportunity to make those points if they were valid. Quite obviously then they were not.

  56. 56

    Ive just seen that Greg King is being interviewed on Tv one Sunday night, ive never seen a defence lawyer promo their case so early afterwards before. With TVNZ journalists itl definitely just be a promo for him too.

  57. Martin Hector –
    Like him or not, Greg King has made an impressive job of the case for the defence. Given the public interest in this affair, don’t blame him that the tv stations want to interview him and keep the story going – and promote their own ratings.

    As an aside, no doubt the women’s magazines are looking at the girls involved too, with their cheque books in hand.

    Laprasene and Alex –
    Ewan Macdonald is being held in custody for crimes that do not include murder. He has effectively already served 14 months. We may find that is deemed sufficient penalty, but we won’t really know until he next appears in court. Unless there is a charge that is much more serious that we don’t know about right now, effectively he is a free man. And rightfully so.

  58. 58

    John, if it wasnt serious why suppress some of these extra charges.
    I dont dislike Greg King yet, i do dislike a man who blows his own trumpet.

  59. There were 3 effluent ponds which could not be drained. Quite likely they have puppies, dive boots etc in them.

    MacDonald’s anger was directed at Kylee in the graffiti, not Scott. All 4 people who heard the gunshot said it was at 5am when Ewen was back home. The murder was 18 months after the vandalism. Ewen had recently roomed with Scott at a farming conference and were said to be getting on a bit better, if not friendly.

    Still far from convinced of Ewen’s innocence, but plenty of reasonable doubt.

  60. It was emotionally manipulative as it was cringingly awful;

    To Roger and the others who have criticised Greg King’s performance: King did his job.

    It was a case based on circumstantial evidence. King gave the jury reason to have at least some doubt over every, or virtually every, piece of evidence put forward. He understood that it didn’t matter if the entire jury thought Macdonald was probably guilty; all that mattered was that they weren’t sure he was guilty.

  61. The media should be in the court, but again, embargoed until verdict. And if not guilty, then you tell me [why a] man found innocent by a jury should then have his life destroyed in the bush court of people’s uninformed opinion. In the case of a not guilty verdict, there should be permanent name suppression.

    Mark, You live in a fantasy world if you think that’ll work. I guess you could expand state powers to crack down on the mainstream and informal media, but that wouldn’t be very libertarian…

    where society has become a reality TV show,

    Yeah, under capitalism the media does tend toward banality, I agree.

  62. 62

    “Yeah, under capitalism the media does tend toward banality, I agree.”

    Ive never come across Boleshevik tv

  63. mpledger wrote:
    One explanation could be 2 shots from the shotgun plus the echo from the second shot, the echo from the first shot being masked by the actual second shot.
    ———
    Good thinking. I hadn’t considered that.

    Doesn’t preclude there being more than one person, or a hired killer (big risk for Macdonald to take though).

    I’m looking at the valdalism, etc., as something that Macdonald hoped would have “solved” the Guy “problem”. It follows that when it didn’t, other avenues need to be considered.

    Time provides opportunity for planning. Concealment of boots for some time before using them, a period of goodwill and friendliness so as to discount being seen as an obvious enemy, etc. All together enough to plant the seeds of doubt in the jury’s mind.

  64. Someone said
    “I find the timing argument a real problem as as a dog person – the idea that he put three 8 week old labrador puppies in a backpack and rode on a bike back home – they would be fear howling – not to mention their size and dexterity…. a real mystery – that yes only the killer can resolve.”
    ~~~~~

    But it doesn’t all have to be in one trip. He could have got the puppies earlier in the night, killed them instantly, cycled to the effluent pond and then gone back to kill Scott some time afterwards.

  65. You’re speculating, mpledger. That seems to be what the prosecution case was based on – speculation. Given that police spent at least 9 months investigating the case before they arrested Macdonald, don’t you think they ought to have come up with something more substantial than mere speculation?

    BTW, the prosecution never suggested that Macdonald made two trips…the two trip theory was used in the Scott Watson case to cover prosecution gaps in evidence and logic.

  66. When the other charges against Macdonald are revealed, people will be shocked and repulsed. He told the police he was not a psycho. These further charges would suggest he is.

  67. 67

    I do find it weird those other charges a suppressed as normally after a trial all other things relating to the defendant are released. I read that these charges will be released in time as its only an interiim suppression but why the judiciary is still suppressing them i cant fathom
    May be they think the public may of somehow moved on by the time the charges are released

  68. 68

    Your mini vox pop not withstanding it is clear to me that the accused is not guilty of any offence he has not pleaded guilty too. I say this because the jury announced this verdict. To then second guess the jury decision is to question the basis on which any jury trial is conducted. By tradition and law and being part of, in board terms, our culture we depend on the belief that jury trials help to maintain justice in our society.
    Personally, I prefer a tribunal of legal experts or judges who I believe are better qualified than a street worker or even worse, somebody such as myself, to pass a judgment resulting from charges relating to my miscreant behavior.
    It’s a strange fact of human nature that many thousands of people seem to believe that they know what really happened in any situation characterized by controversy – the jury’s verdict in this case is no exception. Lounge room and coffee shop chatter will have this decision dissected to an infinite degree with the expert in residence in any of these groups gaining kudos for their amazing knowledge of what really happens behind the scenes or has, as in this case, perhaps a relative in Fielding with an ear close to the ground who really does have the true story. As somebody who did not attend any of the trial days whose only knowledge of the trial was via Television news broadcasts and not being a member of the jury – obviously – I have no ability, experience or education to dissect the case, and then pass a verdict as though I were.
    Perhaps if the P’lice had brought together a stronger case a more acceptable verdict for the all knowing New Zealand public to accept might have been possible.
    Cheers, Bruce.

  69. I believe Ewen MacDonald is a malicious, brooding, and scheming man; but not the murderer of his bro-in-law. A decade earlier, NZ Police tried to shoe-horn the witness reports about murder suspect Scott Watson; so as to “close the case” by convicting a most unpleasant person; but the facts remain that the alleged boat journeys could not have been completed against strong tides in the available time-frame. “Evidence” was planted by Police to convict A.A. Thomas. An un-named third party fed the Crewe baby for several days after that double murder. Mrs Lindy Chambelain was simply not believed when she truthfully said “a dingo took my baby!” At that time, uninformed public opinion (the Jury) could not comprehend behaviour of wild animals. Instead, they formed SUBJECTIVE conclusions based on their misreading of Lindys’ personal appearance; her dress and hairstyle; tone of voice; emotional detachment (caused by grief); the obvious tensions in her marriage; the fact that her husband was a leader in a minority religious sect: and they were WRONG CONCLUSIONS; INFLUENCED BY CULTURAL DIFFERENCES ! Chris Kahue did not murder his sons; but the more likely suspect, (their violent, manipulative, and sustance-addicted mother Maxina King) was not even charged ! Here and now in Kiwiland, does my theory ‘dominant culture ethno-centric perceptual/cognitive blindness’ explain why the ‘minority race’ the tangata whenua, are imprisoned at three times the rate of the ‘whitey’ dominant culture ? ? ? Please comment … I support the third option of NOT PROVEN being available as a verdict in Jury Trials. I would prefer that all serious charges were heard by a gender-balanced and ethnically-diverse panel of senior Lawyers. The identity of the accused should be private until the Verdict is delivered and Sentence is passed. It is time to stop pandering to obsessive legal voyeurism. Get rid of the current most unhelpful media circus surrounding trials. This creates an unreasonable climate of ill-informed speculation, and perpetuates long-standing prejudices. Any accused NZ PERSON IS INNOCENT, UNTIL PROVEN GUILY. The key word is … PROVEN.

  70. 70

    I think this is a (rare) instance of public rationality. The jury did exactly what the law required them to do, and should not be criticised.

    People in the comments above seem to be conflating different questions. We could ask whether McDonald was the most likely person responsible for the murder, whether he is likelier than not to have committed it, or whether it is incredibly unlikely that anyone else committed it.

    The jury is only asked to answer the last one, to which the rational answer is “no” because there isn’t enough evidence.

    You can give that answer and still reasonably believe that McDonald is the most likely killer or that he more likely than not did it. These are the questions that people are answering when they are asked who they think did it, and they are reasonable answers in this case.

    “Not proven” is a particularly odious form of defamation, because it expresses nothing more than insufficiently grounded prejudice against the defendant. If you can’t prove a person committed a crime, you have no business legally enshrining your ill founded belief that they did it. It’s faith cross dressing as knowledge.

  71. …does my theory ‘dominant culture ethno-centric perceptual/cognitive blindness’ explain why the ‘minority race’ the tangata whenua, are imprisoned at three times the rate of the ‘whitey’ dominant culture ? ? ? Please comment …

    I don’t understand exactly how your theory of ‘dominant culture ethno-centric perceptual/cognitive blindness’ relates to Macdonald being found not guilty.

    Also, the other cases you mention mostly don’t seem to usefully relate to the Ewen Macdonald case. There’s no suggestion here of the sort of evidence planting that went on with the Thomas case. The Chambelain case is also very different. Not sure these are helpful comparisons.

  72. Further to my point about the lack of usefulness of some comparisons people are making…

    what use is a not guilty plea when you will spend your life governed by an uninformed public opinion of you formed by watching sound bites on the six o’clock news? Remember Lindy Chamberlain speaking to that effect just last week?

    In the case of a not guilty verdict, there should be permanent name suppression.

    Lindy Chamberlain was found guilty.

  73. Ive never come across Boleshevik tv

    Neither, so I can’t offer a critique of it I’m afraid.

  74. 74

    I wonder if the following two sentences in todays article are a corollary?

    1)”(Kylee Guy) In an exclusive statement to the Weekend Herald, she said:”

    ..
    2)”Scott Guy Family Trust

    To make a donation:

    Westpac account number”

    Last time i heard The Guys were a very wealthy farming family and farm life insurance is tax deductible

  75. @ Steve Parkes: “To Roger and the others who have criticised Greg King’s performance: King did his job.”

    He did his “job” by imposing sheer force of personality, with the enactment of his wide-eyed pantomime to mesmerise his ‘audience'; just like how a mongoose can hypnotise a snake. It’s not that King is all that bright, it’s just that the jury allowed themselves to be held in his thrall. Easily accomplished, as most of them are country folk.

  76. Roger, I repeat my earlier statement, that Greg King made an impressive job of the defence.

    I recall not so long ago – only around 10 or 15 years – that a judge in the UK let off a man who had raped (apparently) a New Zealand girl. His explanation was that she was a simple girl from the colonies.

    Your statement above that “the jury allowed themselves to be held in his (King’s) thrall. Easily accomplished, as most of them (the jury) are country folk” is even less reasoned than that of the English judge.

  77. “It’s not that King is all that bright, it’s just that the jury allowed themselves to be held in his thrall. Easily accomplished, as most of them are country folk.”

    What a silly comment. Unless you were on the jury, how do you know if they were in “thrall”? And how do you know jurors were country folk? Given that the trial was in Wellington, I’d be inclined to think that most or all of the jurors were city folk.

  78. Roger,

    What John and Ross said.

    And further, why put the scare quotes around your use of the word job? King was the defense lawyer. He was there to instill enough doubt in the mind of the jury that they felt that they couldn’t convict, and he had to do that with a client who had admitted to some serious crimes and to say the least wasn’t particularly likable. He succeeded.

    How endearing he came across to people watching on tv is perfectly irrelevant.

  79. “And further, why put the scare quotes around your use of the word job?”

    Mate, it was to show that I was quoting your use of the word “…King did his job”.

    You are befuddled, as were the jury.

  80. Thanks for that “explanation” Roger.

  81. Brian how can you think that your morning walk turns up a cross section of NZ society. I know where you walk.

  82. Brian, this comment may come too late to be of much interest, but I make it anyway and have done so before. New Zealand’s British-based adversarial justice system is sadly too dependent on who has the better counsel – the Crown or the defendant? You’re spot on with your observation that King’s examination-in-chief and cross-examination of witnesses about the boots and (bizarrely yet effectively) about the time on the clock radio, almost certainly won him the case.

    Not for the first time have I wished that New Zealand used an inquisitorial system where it is the job of the court to establish the truth of what happened, rather than be a referee to ensure that neither side has gained an unfair advantage.

    I’m quite certain David Bain would still be in prison if that method were used, and Macdonald would be in there with him.

  83. Brian,

    There is still some life in this thread, although it is dwindling fast until that is, the collaterals – books, magazine exclusives, movies, DVDs, re-enactments, add to the mix.

    I have two cents worth on a couple of points:

    ON THE DISCLOSURE OF EVIDENCE
    1) Interestingly this case was tried under new evidence disclosure guidelines set down by the 2008 criminal disclosures act. I think the importance of this has slipped through the cracks with most of the court reporters. Under these new rules the prosecution has to hand over to the defence EVERY statement, signed or unsigned give by anyone interviewed in connection with the investigation, whether they appear as a witness for the crown or not.
    Previously they were only obliged to hand over evidence from those who were going to appear as crown witnesses. So this changes the dynamics of the trial dramatically. It is probably why the crown had so many witnesses. If they didn’t call all of them, then the risk to the prosecution would have been the defence calling them and an implied inference amongst the jury that the crown were trying to sweep evidence under the table.
    In the instance of the timing of the shots the court heard from four witnesses who heard the shots at, or very close to, 5am. One of them, Mr Sharpe had an unreliable clock, so he he said, an it ran a bit fast. That was the trapdoor for the prosecution out of what was a locked room of evidence that would have given the accused an alibi. But the jury probably didn’t buy the crown’s argument because they had heard all of the evidence from everyone interviewed. Under the old prosecution guidelines, perhaps Mr Sharpe may have been the only one they heard from.
    The new disclosure guidelines now balance the opposing sides more equally. The previous imbalance was a major weakness in our adversarial justice system and reduces the limitations of an under-resourced defence.
    It may well do to reflect for a moment of the conduct of previous high profile criminal trials, and how, if brought before a jury today, the outcome could differ.

    2) ON THE REPORTING IN THE MEDIA
    The principle of open justice is sacrosanct in our legal system and pre dates even the Magna Carta in English law. Court reporting forms an essential part of the principle. The expansion of media exposure made possible by technological advances are testing the principle in it’s delicate balancing act of a free press v’s a fair trial.

    What we have seen in the Ewen McDonald trial is the emergence of the courtroom verdict being marketed as a brand. The extent to which this has been visible throughout this trial is, I believe, unprecedented in court reporting in New Zealand. Even within the strict confines of reporting directly from witness testimony the media have managed to evoke emotions amongst the public building the brand power. Snippets of evidence interspersed with suggestive and memorable images of witness close ups. You Tube clips to whet the insatiable appetites. Stories of puppy dogs that only a true sociopathic monster could harm. All contribute to the public’s desire to buy or reject the brand.
    This new age of courtroom drama now places the defendant on trial with a presumption of guilt where in reality, it is the evidence on trial and the defendant is in the dock under a presumption of innocence until the evidence proves otherwise. The front page story of last week’s Dompost “ The Court of Public Opinion” underscores my proposition and the power of the media to sell the brand. It is the result of trial by television.

    3) ON ADVERSARIAL V’S INQUISITORIAL JUSTICE
    Inquisitorial justice systems do have adversarial trials, despite what some of the previous bloggers have inferred. They differ by having an independent investigator, often a judge, to order inquiries and dig up the evidence.
    In an inquisitorial jurisdiction I doubt very much whether this case would ever had got to trial. The inquiring judge, would in all likelihood, not been able to recommend a prosecution. It highlights a shortcoming in our current system whereby the crown solicitors are not involved at the investigative stage and at the time of arrest.
    They simply have the file dumped on their desk, after the indictment, with a post in note, go prosecute. They do have the power to stay a prosecution but their late involvement probably limits this discretion significantly.
    In either system it will always be easier to show reasonable doubt, the bar in any civilised society, than it is to prove certain guilt, especially when no direct evidence exists.

    In a jury trial and there are three simple rules that guide every single decision on every single case: ask any experienced criminal defence lawyer:
    1) Trial is war, second place is death
    2) Truth is relative- pick one that works
    3) In a jury trial there are only 12 opinions that matter.
    For the defence winning is the only thing that counts, don’t mention justice, that’s God’s problem, their job is to win.

    Size nine dive boots was a truth expounded by the prosecution.
    Size nine dive boots don’t fit the plaster casts was a truth expounded by the defence. It’s all relative. Clearly the defence picked the truth that worked. It’s all relative.

  84. The prosecution’s case was flawed. I might be presumptuous but Scott Guy probably loathed Ewen MacDonald. Who wouldn’t in the circumstances. The NZ Police in my opinion did not approach the case with any sort of wisdom at all. Blackmail is probably the most probable motive. MacDonald had everything to lose wife, farm, kids etc. if exposed by Scott (who probably already knew what a piece of work he was).
    The Crow’s assertion that the murderer used a bicycle was pretty lame. The most probable explanation was he used an accomplice (as a driver) and this the Police failed to nail. I bet Mr Boe was relieved when he only had to come clean about the other bad deeds!! What seems remarkable is that the Crown had Boe in their clutches to reveal more and did not seize the opportunity to do so. Take a look at the body language of MacDonald at Scott’s funeral…to me he’s smug and thinking “thank god that bastard’s dead”. To conclude Old MacDonald no longer has a farm, family, is no Family Guy, doesn’t fool the majority of kiwis and probably is going to have an infinitely harder time out of jail than in. And a note to the NZ Judicial system …please Mr/Mrs Judge is it not your duty to inform jururs that murderers come in many guises including flash suits and acceptable demeanours…but don’t be fooled by them and their slick barristers…In the meantime the NZ Police I believe have to rid themselves of the “incompetence” tag and / or the probability that their ranks are infiltrated by officers close to the perpetrator that seek to derail any case. The fact that EMacD’s brother personally engaged Greg King does not look very good now does it?

  85. What I don’t understand was how Greg King, in his summing up, was able to point the finger at the Guy’s present farm manager. He all but said he was probably the murderer, that he had the motive etc etc. Sheeesh, how is he allowed to suggest that in a “court of law”?