Kidnapping accused acquitted in counterfeit drug deal case

A Queenstown woman accused of kidnapping a drug dealer after a botched deal has been acquitted.

At the end of a three-day jury trial at Invercargill District Court, Rachel Maree Faul (22) was yesterday found not guilty of unlawfully detaining Jason Scott Maynard.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict shortly before 3pm after deliberating for nearly four hours.

Faul, of Speargrass Flat, Queenstown, reacted to the verdict with a quick smile and was overcome with emotion after she left the dock and went to sit with her family in court.

After a hug from her mother, the receptionist cried. Her father Peter, her brother and grandparents were in court too.

A related charge of offering to supply the class B drug ecstasy was dismissed by Judge Gary MacAskill before he began summing up for the jury yesterday morning.

Judge MacAskill told the jury: ''A judge can discharge a defendant on charges under certain circumstances. The circumstances have arisen in the case, please do not guess or speculate on the reasons.''

The judge's decision was made after discussions in chambers with Crown and defence lawyers.

The charges relate to the violent beating and kidnap of drug dealer Maynard on November 25 and 26, 2011.

He was beaten by a gang of Queenstown men brandishing weapons and wearing masks after they said he sold them fake drugs; flour and sugar rather than ecstasy.

Several of the men, including ringleaders Brodie O'Rourke and Michael Coulter, were convicted of offences relating to the incident, including unlawfully detaining Maynard, and have served time in prison.

Maynard had met Faul at the Crown Range turn-off. Five men then approached him from another car and attacked him, headbutting and punching him. Maynard was then bundled into the back seat of Faul's car.

Judge MacAskill, summing up the evidence yesterday, said it was agreed Faul had driven off with Maynard in the car covering 3km ''in about three minutes'' before stopping.

Maynard then left the car and was later admitted to hospital with facial cuts, bruises and possible concussion.

Judge MacAskill told the jury they would need to be sure beyond reasonable doubt ''not that it was possible or even probable, but beyond reasonable doubt'' that Faul had detained Maynard without lawful reason, and acted for the purpose of him being detained, and knew he had not consented to being detained - or aided O'Rourke to the same end - if they were to find her guilty.

Maynard, a quantity surveyor now living in Auckland, was convicted of drug-dealing offences relating to his time living in Cromwell in 2011, the court heard.

Defence lawyer Jonathon Eaton said on the first day of the three-day trial that the jury would hear no evidence of Faul offering to supply ecstasy, ''because there is none''.

Faul declined to comment after the verdict.