Talk of hidden safe before fatal encounter

November 29, 2016 | By More

chch-court-roomDiscussion of a hidden safe took place before a night time raid that left an 87-year-old hoarder bashed to death on the floor of his Upper Riccarton home.

The High Court trial in Christchurch has heard from a succession of synthetic cannabis users about the weekend in August 2015 when Harold Richardson was bashed to death by then 16-year-old Taniela Kotoitoga Daven Tiako Waitokia.

Waitokia, now 18, admits the assault but denies the charge of murder in the two-week trial before Justice Cameron Mander and a jury. His defence is urging a finding of manslaughter.

Joshua James Stevenson, 24 and at present in prison, was among a group of Riccarton youths who knew Richardson and spent their time getting money to buy synthetic cannabis and then got constantly stoned, according to the evidence.

Some of them sold stolen property to Richardson, whose Owens Terrace house had every square centimetre packed with stuff he had hoarded. Sometimes he would pay them to do odd jobs – $50 to $100 to mow his lawns.

Stevenson would sometimes sell synthetic cannabis, and Waitokia was a customer.

Waitokia arrived at his address on the evening of the killing, “off his face” and saying he had taken “blue crack”. Stevenson had never heard of blue crack. Waitokia said he wanted to tie someone up an seriously hurt them.

Another associate was there, and in the discussion that followed, a safe in Richardson’s house was mentioned. Stevenson said the subject of the safe “popped up out of nowhere”. It was suggested that it was behind the television or behind a picture.

Stevenson said he had not previously heard any talk about a safe. He knew Richardson as “a chronic drunk” who had a bit of money and liked to gamble on horses.

Waitokia said, “I’m going to go kill Harry. I’m going to get him.”

He asked Stevenson for a sock or gloves, but Stevenson refused, because he wanted nothing to do with it.

Waitokia left riding a child’s bike and looking like a big kid, he said.

When he returned later, he had bags – one clinking with bottles and the other containing electronic gear. He showed Stevenson a tiny speck of blood on his shoe, and said, “He’s gone, he’s gone.” He also said there was no safe at the house.

Cross-examined by defence counsel, Jonathan Eaton QC, Stevenson acknowledged that there were difficulties recalling things exactly because of his synthetic cannabis intake.

Waitokia’s behaviour was strange on the night, Stevenson said. “I had seen him drunk or on drugs and he is never like that. He was pretty amped on something.”

Questioned, he said he “got the impression” Waitokia was talking about hurting someone.

“It wasn’t until after everything happened, that I found out (Richardson) was quite wealthy,” he said.

The Crown alleges Waitokia went to Richardson’s house that night, went in through a window and bashed him 14 times with a bottle, which broke. He was found dead in the house next morning.

The trial began on Monday. The Crown will call evidence from 20 witnesses.

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