Ghostly jury trial ends in not guilty
17 February 2006
By MERVYN DYKES
A man who claimed that visions of a dead woman prompted his attack on her husband was found not guilty yesterday.
On Monday, Dean Raymond Hindmarsh, 45, of Feilding, pleaded guilty to assaulting his former friend.
Yesterday, in a jury trial in Palmerston North District Court, he was found not guilty of related charges of kidnapping, assault with a weapon (a sharpened screwdriver), robbery and two of threatening to kill.
Hindmarsh was remanded in custody until March 31 after an application for bail was refused.
Judge Les Atkins described the assault as being "at the upper level of seriousness" and said that a term of imprisonment though not inevitable was likely.
He also noted that Hindmarsh had breached bail conditions before and was scheduled to appear in court today on eight new charges unrelated to those he had just defended.
Four of the "not guilty" verdicts returned yesterday and the assault charge were for offences alleged to have been committed against Feilding sickness beneficiary Shaun McGivern.
One of the threatening to kill charges related to Mr McGivern's son, Michael, 18.
They stemmed from a confrontation between Hindmarsh and Mr McGivern in the former's garage on July 4, 2004.
The Crown alleged Hindmarsh's actions were directed at recovering drugs he believed had been stolen from him.
The defence denied any involvement with drugs and said Hindmarsh was motivated by what he believed was Mr McGivern's mistreatment of his family, including his failure to collect his wife's ashes from a funeral parlour after her death in 2002.
Hindmarsh has claimed seeing visions of Mr McGivern's late wife Brenda on three occasions had driven him to confront and assault Mr McGivern.
In his closing address to the jury of six men and six women, Crown counsel Andru Isac said he agreed with defence counsel Fergus Steedman that the issue of credibility was central to the case.
"We'd like to think that what we hear from them (witnesses) will be true," he said. "What this case reveals to us is that this is not always the case.
"Juries have to make difficult decisions about who is telling the truth. Someone is telling you the truth and someone is telling you a whale of a tale."
Mr Isac said Hindmarsh had early access to Crown evidence, plenty of time to fabricate a story and a powerful incentive to lie to the jury.
Defence counsel, Mr Steedman, countered by alleging the evidence given by Mr McGivern was riddled with contradictions.
"When you start off with a little lie, it becomes the little lie that grew and you end up with a monster," he said.
He claimed Mr McGivern had lied out of anger, spite and hatred.
When he returned home from the encounter in Hindmarsh's garage he was seen by his son Michael, 18, to have been injured.
Michael, who had earlier testified to being close to his father, had gone next door to call the police.
Mr Steedman said Mr McGivern was "angry and humiliated because he hadn't even been punched, but had been slapped like a girl".
He alleged that when Mr McGivern found himself being interviewed by police, the story of a cannabis stash left in his garage by Hindmarsh had been formulated out of his mix of emotions.