Crown case criticised in closing addresses

Sideline Bar-2013-02Counsel for two robbery accused say the Crown has not proved beyond doubt that they were the men with masks and firearms who held up a Christchurch bar, but the Crown says its circumstantial case against them is strong.

“Suspicion, speculation, and guesswork has no place in a trial like this,” said Lee Lee Heah, defence counsel for one of the men on trial for the November 7, 2012, robbery of the Sideline bar in Stanmore Road.

Crown prosecutor Sara Jamieson told the jury: “There are just too many coincidences going on here for either of these two men to explain away.”

Dallas Edwards, aged 25, and Jackson Manson, aged 23, are on trial for the armed robbery of the bar, with the Crown alleging they climbed over a rear wall at closing time, armed with a sawn-off shotgun and pistol, and got away in a white car with $4545 of takings from the bar and poker machines. They deny the charges.

Today was the fourth day of the trial. Judge Paul Kellar will sum up for the Christchurch District Court jury on Wednesday morning, before it retires to consider its verdicts.

Defence counsel Tim Fournier, for Manson, said the prosecution evidence about the stature of the pistol-wielding masked robber did not fit with the height of his client. The video footage from the bar showed the robber holding the pistol in his right hand, when the evidence was that Manson was left-handed.

A pistol found later in Manson’s car did not appear to be similar to the one shown in the bar video, he said. A witness said there was red tape on the pistol at the robbery, but there was no tape on the firearm when it was found.

Edwards’ counsel Lee Lee Heah said the defence was that the Crown had failed to prove to the high standard of beyond reasonable doubt that Edwards was one of the robbers.

She said Edwards would not give evidence but would call a witness to establish that he did have access to a substantial amount of cash including coins. The defence would call this evidence because the Crown had emphasised the fact that Edwards had cash and coins shortly after the robbery.

Samuel Healey, a Christchurch builder, told the court that he had been a friend of Edwards for about 13 years. He had seen Edwards gambling “at least 300 times easy”. Edwards would sometimes lose $1000, or win thousands of dollars.

He remembered that in early November last year, he bought a Playstation3 and a laptop computer off Edwards for $600. He paid for it on his payday on a Wednesday, using $50 and $20 notes and $200 in $2 coins from a win on the pokies. He did this as payback, because Edwards had earlier paid him for something with a large number of coins.

The trial has been told that the robbery took place on the evening of Wednesday November 7, 2012, and the Crown has called evidence about shopping by Edwards on the following two days, using cash and coins.

The Crown said that when all the strands of its circumstantial case were examined together, the jury could find beyond reasonable doubt that the two men on trial were the two armed robbers.

Miss Jamieson said Mr Healey’s evidence did not explain the clear plastic bank bags found in Edwards’ possession – similar to one’s taken with the cash in the robbery – nor his possession of 61 fifty-cent coins.

The Crown said its circumstantial case against Edwards was based around eight facts: His palm print on an external wall at the hotel apparently climbed over by the robbers; a car number plate left near the scene linked to Edwards’ partner’s sister; black plastic cable ties found on the plate and on the white car Edwards was using; evidence of a white Subaru at the scene; Edwards not returning home on the night of the robbery; his possession of coins and coin bags and his shopping spree; text messages the Crown said were to organise the robbery; his interest in a newspaper report of the robbery.

She said Manson was in contact with Edwards before and after the robbery and they could infer he was with Edwards at the time. They had texted about “strategising”. A black pistol, wrapped in a black balaclava, and track pants were found in Manson’s car when police located him three weeks after the robbery.

Texts from Edwards to Manson’s phone before the robbery referred to getting “plates”, and whether they should get a driver. The Crown said calls for taxis indicated that Edwards was at Manson’s address in Gayhurst Road in the hours after the robbery.

The trial is continuing.

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