Charges reduced in kidnap, bashing trial

Ten charges against Kaiapoi business owner David Clemence have been dropped as his trial moves into its final stages.

The 18-charge indictment against him was pared back to eight charges after the Crown and defence had finished their cases today.

Christchurch District Court Judge Gary MacAskill, who is presiding over the five-day jury trial, had expressed concern about the number of charges.

The charges arise from an incident in Kaiapoi on April 7, 2011, when the Crown alleges two men caught siphoning diesel from a drilling rig in a yard were beaten, threatened, questioned, blindfolded, tied, and dunked in a river.

The evidence has been that Clemence was called and attended the scene after the men were caught in the yard by a group of Pasifika men. He eventually took one man to the police station and showed police where to find the other.

The defence has acknowledged that the pair had been assaulted, but alleges they have “dreamed up” their story the scale of the beating and about Clemence’s involvement, in order to get more lenient sentences.

Before the counsel began their closing addresses to the jury, the indictment was reduced to charges of kidnapping each complainant, and three charges of assault for each of them. The assaults relate to kicking and punching, standing on their throat or head, and throwing them in the river.

Judge MacAskill told the jury that the amendment to the indictment would reduce the number of issues they would have to consider to a more manageable level.

Prosecutor Deidre Orchard told the jury that the Crown had decided it would not bother with charges in relation to some aspects of the events that night. It was no longer charging Clemence as a party to the kidnapping, but relied only on his actions after he had arrived at the scene and “assumed control”.

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