Manslaughter verdict angers stabbed teen's family

William Peter Lewis
William Peter Lewis
The family of a 16-year-old boy stabbed to death by another teenager in 2010 reacted with disappointment and outrage to a High Court jury's manslaughter verdict yesterday.

William Peter Lewis (16) was fatally stabbed three times on April 1, 2010, in Oamaru by Daniel Ethan Smith (20), also 16 at the time.

At 12.40pm on the sixth day of Smith's retrial, a jury in the High Court in Timaru delivered their verdict.

The jury of six men and six women found Smith not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Smith was convicted and has been remanded in custody. He is due to be sentenced on August 29.

Smith remained calm when the jury returned the verdicts, while there were gasps and tears from the family and friends of William.

Outside the court, William's father, Peter Lewis, criticised the verdict and questioned if three stabs in the back with a 20cm hunting knife did not mean murder, then what did.

He believed the evidence justified a murder verdict ''totally''.

Mr Lewis described yesterday's manslaughter verdict as ''an outrage'', but vowed he, along with the ''whole family'', would present victim impact statements again when Smith was sentenced.

William's mother, Jenny Brokenshire, said the family was ''frustrated'' and ''really disappointed'' by the outcome.''

But we would like to say a huge thanks to all William's friends and family and to Andrew and Anne-Marie McRae, Derek Shaw and Victim Support - they have been fantastic,'' she said.

The number of William's supporters in court for all six days of the retrial was an indication of how much he was loved and missed, she said.

Smith's family did not want to comment.

Crown prosecutors Andrew and Anne-Marie McRae had alleged Smith had murderous intent when he chose to stab William in the back ''not once, not twice, but three times'' during what was ''not more than a verbal scuffle''.

Smith's defence, Christopher Stevenson and Catherine Milnes, claimed he acted in self-defence, ''instinctively to a situation he didn't create''.

The jury of six men and six women retired for deliberations at 2.50pm on Tuesday, and broke for the night at 5.20pm.

They delivered the verdict after further deliberations yesterday.

In order to find him guilty of murder, they needed to decide if the Crown had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct of Smith with a knife could not be a reasonable force to use in defence of himself, in the circumstances as he believed them to be.

They disproved self-defence, but could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he had ''murderous intent''.

Justice Rachel Dunningham thanked the jury for their work on a ''gruelling and emotional'' case and ordered a new pre-sentence report and updated victim impact statements.

The reasons for the retrial are suppressed.