Partner killed over ‘trust issues’

A 22-year-old mother-of-three assaulted and then strangled her short-term partner with a computer cord over what she said were “trust issues”, the High Court was told when she admitted manslaughter today.

Zariah Jae Samson, now aged 25, pleaded guilty when the Crown agreed to reduce the charge to manslaughter from the murder charge she has faced for the last three years.

Justice Cameron Mander remanded Samson in custody for sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch on Friday morning. He asked probation to prepare a pre-sentence report.

The victim, Cory James Protos, was aged 30 at the time of his death in April 2014. It is understood his parents lived in Perth at the time. The family is in Christchurch and will be present for Samson’s sentencing.

The case had been set down for trial on the murder charge in June 2015, and again this month, but both trial dates were abandoned.

Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said Samson and Protos had been in “casual relationship” for about seven weeks. He had some of his property at Samson’s Bryndwr address.

About 2pm on April 26, 2014, Protos borrowed an associate’s vehicle to pick up some drugs, pay a bill, and pick up personal property from Samson’s address.

He went to an address in Conference Street, central Christchurch, where he met Samson who became agitated and accused him of spreading rumours about her.

He was assaulted and another woman saw him with blood on his hands, looking shocked and sick.

He was made to remove his clothing to show he was not wearing any recording devices, and then his hands were bound and he was covered with a blanket before Samson punched and kicked him and pushed him over.

The assault went on for hours. During the evening, an associate of Samson believed she was going to kill him and wanted her and Protos to leave the Conference Street house.

At 7.20pm, Protos was dressed and Samson drove him to her home in Earnslaw Crescent, Bryndwr, where she took him into a bedroom. Protos showered and the argument continued.

Samson inflicted a superficial cut to his neck and then wrapped a computer cable three times around his neck and strangled him. She wrapped him in a blanket and pushed him under the bed.

She sent a text to an associate saying she was “cleaning up my mess” and requested cleaning products and petrol.

She drove Protos’ car to near his address in Avonhead and left it in a cul-de-sac with some of his property in a plastic bag in the boot.

The next day, a relative of Samson’s contacted the police. Samson was interviewed and told the police she and Protos had argued “about some trust issues”, and the argument escalated to the point where a gun was held to her head. She had then strangled him, Mr Hawes said.

Jonathan Eaton QC appeared as defence counsel for Samson.

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