Accused convinced by friend he fatally beat man: defence

Jason Karl Blackler. Photo: ODT
Jason Karl Blackler. Photo: ODT

The only reason a Dunedin man claimed he had beaten his flatmate to death was because his friend put the idea in his head, the defence says.

Jason Karl Blackler (48) is on trial in the High Court at Dunedin accused of the manslaughter of his 66-year-old flatmate, Alan James Fahey, on October 25, 2016.

The Crown says the pair had an all-day drinking session which led to an argument and a violent outburst by the defendant.

That night, Blackler got a taxi from the Brockville Rd house to his then-partner's home in Corstorphine.

The next day he asked his friend Stephen Ferguson to go to check on Mr Fahey.

When he found the victim dead, Mr Ferguson reported back to the defendant it looked like he was “beaten to death”.

“From that point on, Jason Blackler is convinced he beat his best friend to death,” defence counsel Anne Stevens told the court in closing submissions this afternoon.

However, she said there was no evidence the accused was involved in any assault, or that Mr Fahey died as a result of a physical violence.

Mrs Stevens stressed her client had no marks on his hands to indicate he had punched the victim, nor was there any blood found on his clothes.

Bloody footprints and marks found around the scene were attributed to Blackler, but she said there was no conclusive proof of that.

There was no inquiry as to who the footprints belonged to, the court heard.

“That investigation was simply not undertaken by the police, yet you're being asked to assume they are the defendant's footprints,” Mrs Stevens said.

She put forward a scenario in which the victim's facial injuries were caused by himself.

“Mr Fahey's injuries could have been from a series of falls. The man is drunk, the house is an obstacle course,” Mrs Stevens said.

She also pointed to the evidence of experienced pathologist Dr Martin Sage who described the man's wounds as “non-fatal”.

Mr Fahey suffered chronic obstructive lung disease and very severe coronary heart disease and Dr Sage said he could not give a definite cause of death.

“If he was assaulted, the assault may have been incidental to his death,” Mrs Stevens said.

Common sense will make jury convict: Crown

Earlier this afternoon, the Crown said a jury would find the accused guilty of manslaughter if they simply use their common sense.

Prosecutor Robin Bates told the jury an argument between the two flatmates provoked the defendant to lash out with a flurry of blows.

Phone records showed Blackler called his then girlfriend twice.

While she told the court from the witness box that there was no discussion about a violent incident, the prosecutor said her daughter’s account was more reliable.

The teenager gave evidence that she went into her mother’s room to retrieve a coffee cup when she heard a conversation.

“So on that night, Jason had rung up mum and he said he thinks he's killed his best friend,” the girl told the court.

“Then he was speaking to me on the phone that he killed his best friend then he asks me if I could ring a taxi for him.”

Mr Bates said the young witness was resolute about how and when she heard the comments, despite being pressed during cross-examination.

When Blackler was interviewed by police the day after the alleged killing, he said he remembered arguing with Mr Fahey but did not recall hitting him or seeing him lying on the floor.

When asked whether weapons were involved in the incident, he quickly denied that.

Mr Bates pointed to that and other clear memories the defendant seemed to have, which appeared to contradict his stance.

“He knew what he'd done, he knew why he'd done it,” he said.

Pathologist Dr Martin Sage’s evidence was also highlighted by the Crown.

Mr Bates said, from his testimony, it was clear a combination of serious assaults were a major contributor to Mr Fahey’s death.

There was no evidence he would have died of pre-existing health conditions at the time without the addition of the assault, he said.

"I ask you to use your common sense,'' said Mr Bates.

Justice Rachel Dunningham will sum up the case tomorrow before the jury retires to consider its verdict. 

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