Guilty verdict in skull stabbing trial

Court House-general2A jury has rejected a 20-year-old’s explanation for how he embedded a knife in the skull of his friend.

After considering its verdict for 90min, the Christchurch District Court jury convicted Nivard Juan Cain Smith on the charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The unemployed Mairehau man was upset as the verdict was delivered on the sixth day of the trial before Judge Brian Callaghan.

Smith was weeping in the dock, and nearly collapsed. When he sagged onto the seating, a Corrections Department officer told him he had to stand and he did so.

The judge remanded him in custody for sentence on January 29. He called for a pre-sentence report and a victim impact report.

Smith had denied he had any intention of stabbing 20-year-old Sam Doyle in the skull – leaving the knife embedded through his temple and eye socket – after an party altercation that spilled onto Flockton Street early on February 16.

Mr Doyle has made an almost full recovery after the knife was removed in a delicate operation at Christchurch Hospital where doctors had to take care to get it out without damaging the optic nerve or the carotid artery. He has scarring and has had some double vision.

Smith had claimed the stabbing was unintentional and was done with a backhand motion as Mr Doyle tried to strike him from behind while he was running away. The Crown contended that the stabbing would have to be done with considerable force to get the knife through 8mm of skull bone at the temple.

The jury saw graphic images of the victim with the knife embedded in his skull, and a doctor who was a witness provided a plastic model skull with a metal rod embedded to show the track of the knife blade.

After being remanded for sentence, Smith was brought back into court to be given a first strike warning under the system which imposes heavier sentences on repeat violent offenders. His mother was in court at that stage, and in tears.

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