Woman admits manslaughter in Christmas Day murder trial

Franchesca Kororia Borell has admitted the manslaughter of her partner during a Christmas Day argument but the Crown says her actions amounted to murder and her trial is going ahead.

The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Hardeep Singh at the start of the two-week trial in the High Court at Christchurch.

Defence counsel Olivia Jarvis said Borell was not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter because she did not have murderous intent when she tragically hurt her partner. “She did not think it was a possibility that he could die. The thought that her actions could cause Mr Singh’s death never entered her mind.”

But the murder trial before Justice Cameron Mander and a jury is continuing with the Crown calling evidence from 23 witnesses.

Borell says she threw the knife at Mr Singh but Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said the evidence from the pathologist and a professor of mechanical engineering would be that stabbing was more likely than throwing.

Mr Hawes told the jury: “Even if it was thrown, it would not absolve the defendant because significant force would be required to penetrate (Mr Singh’s) clothing, and his body through to the heart.”

He warned the jury that some of the evidence they would hear would be “challenging” but was necessary – including the recording of the 111 call from the distressed Borell, and post mortem photographs.

Mr Singh died in hospital after the incident on the afternoon of Christmas Day 2016. Emergency services went to the house where the couple were staying in Cashmere Road, and found Mr Singh lying behind the door.

There was no sign of life but medical treatment returned a heart beat briefly. The heart beat was again restored at the hospital’s emergency department but Mr Singh was found to be likely brain dead and died in hospital on December 27.

The pathologist found that he died of massive blood loss from a single stab wound that penetrated his heart. He said the angle of the wound was downwards into the heart at an angle of about 45 degrees.

Borell said in a police interview on the day that she had thrown the knife at him rather than stabbing him.

Mr Singh, 25, had moved to New Zealand from India in 2015. At the time of his death he had been working maintaining irrigation systems.

The couple began a relationship in September. During an outing on the morning of his death, Singh had told a friend that he was not happy with Borell and they had been arguing a lot.

Later that day, Borell’s mother returned a phone call from her. The call was picked up but Borell did not answer it. The mother could hear an argument going on in the background.

Borell called 111 at 2.22pm and ambulance and police arrived a few minutes later. She was initially charged with assault, and interviewed.

She told the police they had argued on Christmas Day and she had begun packing a suitcase, but Mr Singh had blocked the door when she tried to leave. She believed he head-butted her.

She said she became angry and went to the kitchen where she took a knife from a knife block. She said she wanted to hurt him and had then “chucked” the knife at him when he would not get out of the way.

She also said that he had been threatening to hurt himself by “putting the knife in deeper” and she had taken if off him. She said that when he first fell, “I thought I killed him.”

Mr Hawes said Borell’s actions were murder because she either had a murderous intent, or it was a reckless killing.

For a murder finding in a reckless killing, the Crown had to prove that the defendant intended to cause grievous bodily harm, knew that the harm was likely to cause death, and was reckless about whether death occurred.

The trial is continuing.