Ihaka Stokes murder trial: Jury retires to begin deliberations

Justice Cameron Mander has summed up both the Crown and Defence case on the ninth day of the Christchurch High Court murder trial.

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Justice Cameron Mander says "the two main issues for you in this trial are the identification of the person who inflicted the injuries, you need to decide whether the crown has proven it was Mr Taylor who did that."

"Mr Taylor has explained his version of events to you, he says he didn't assault Ihaka on Thursday night, but dropped him because he felt dizzy. He says it was Mikala Stokes who inflicted the fatal injuries, and that he lied to police to protect her."

It's the Crown's case that 23-year-old Troy Taylor, suffering multiple concussions, was sleep deprived and "lost it" with Ihaka, inflicting 59 injuries.

Troy Taylor says he lied to police to protect Ihaka’s mother Mikala Stokes. Source: 1 NEWS

The Defence case is that Ihaka's mother Mikala inflicted the injuries while Taylor was out of the house, and that he lied about the chain of events to police to "protect the woman he loved."

Justice Mander says "The defence case is that Mr Taylor simply was not responsible for inflicting the injuries, but if you decide he did you have to assess his state of mind at the time."

The 15-month-old died in July 2015 due to head injuries including brain swelling, bleeding and hemorrhaging behind his eyes.

It’s now up to the jury of six men and six women to decide whether or not Troy Taylor killed the child. Source: 1 NEWS



New Zealand's GDP rises one percent in June quarter

New Zealand's gross domestic product has increased one per cent in the June quarter.

It's the largest rise in two years, and makes for a 2.7 per cent gain over the June year, Stats NZ said.

Growth was delivered on the back of a bounce back in dairy production and meat processing, higher power generation, and forestry.

House building also lifted, as did activity in the services sector.

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New figures show GDP grew for the last quarter of 2015, political editor Corin Dann says.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Media personality accused of assaulting woman appears in court

A media personality has elected a trial by jury on assault charges they are facing. 

Source: istock.com

He appeared in the North Shore District Court this morning.

He's facing three assault charges - including one of assaulting a woman with intent to injure.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges back in July.

He has been granted ongoing name suppression through until his trial.

He will next appear in court in November.

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Man's fingers severed in samurai sword attack in Brisbane

A man has had four fingers and part of his thumb severed by a samurai sword during a fight at a caravan park north of Brisbane.

The 45-year-old suffered the injury after allegedly being attacked by a 40-year-old during a dispute at the caravan park in Aspley on Wednesday night.

The man underwent emergency surgery at a Brisbane hospital, while the alleged attacker will face Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on Thursday after being charged with grievous bodily harm.

Samurai sword. Source: istock.com


Legalising recreational cannabis could stem NZ’s epidemic of ‘zombie drug’ deaths, Peter Dunne says

Synthetic cannabis has killed more than 40 people in New Zealand since June last year, a massive jump from the previous five years, the coroner recently reported.

One way to serve a blow to the market for the so called zombie-drug in New Zealand would be to legalise recreational cannabis, former MP and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said today on TVNZ1's Breakfast.

But the suggestion came with a caveat.

"It would certainly remove some of the incentive for people to try some of these substances," he said. "But...some of these (synthetic drugs) are so potent and so powerful that people may well feel they'll get a better high from these rather than the real product.

"While on the face of it the answer would be yes (to marijuana legalisation), I don't think it's necessarily that simple."

Cannabis and synthetic cannabis are alike in name only. The synthetic variety, often consisting of dried herbs sprayed with chemical compounds derived from old medical studies, encompasses hundreds of different strains, Mr Dunne pointed out.

Two of the most potent versions, described as up to 10 times stronger that the ones that caused a "zombie" outbreak in the US due to the way users reacted to them, have been targeted by the Government for reclassification as Class A drugs.

That would mean penalties for dealing the drugs would increase substantially, from a couple years in prison to up to 14 years.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS yesterday.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Dunne agreed that the classification for those two strains should change, but he was sceptical that it would do anything to stem the overdose epidemic.

"They're already illegal, so this doesn't make them any more illegal," he said. "We shouldn't get carried away and assume that's going to resolve the problem...We need at the same time to be beefing up our treatment facilities to deal with the people who are suffering adverse consequences because they will continue to do so."

He also suggested putting in place "a coherent international warning system" and regulating the market for the less potent strains of synthetic cannabis - rather than continuing to outlaw all of them, pushing the market underground.

But even with those solutions, eradicating the drug altogether would be difficult because it's so easy to smuggle, he said.

Police are still trying to identify the men as they want to check on their welfare. Source: 1 NEWS

"The problem is there are hundreds of these, and there are rumours of several hundred more yet to hit the market, so this problem's not going to go away anytime soon," he said.

"If you're seeking to bring this stuff into the country, you bring it all in different bits and bobs so it doesn't look like a finished product. Who knows what's put together to give it its added bite."

But there’s a caveat to the idea, the former MP and associate health minister told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast