Wrong person convicted in Morriss case - defence

Lawyers for the woman convicted of the murder of Marton pensioner Mona Morriss today argued in the Court of Appeal that the conviction be quashed, due to a string of doubts in the Crown case.

Tracy Jean Goodman, 44, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years last December, after being found guilty of stabbing Mrs Morriss to death on January 3, 2005.

The Crown said Mrs Morriss was first bashed about the head and then stabbed six times in the heart after disturbing Goodman in her home.

Goodman had a huge list of convictions for previous burglaries in the Rangitikei region, but in court today her lawyers said she was not a violent offender.

The defence also appealed the length of the sentence - the longest handed down to a woman in New Zealand.

Defence counsel Steve Winter argued seven strands of evidence were used by the Crown during the trial in the High Court at Wanganui, none of which were proved beyond reasonable doubt.

When the weaknesses of all were put together it had the effect of creating overall doubt, he said.

Mr Winter cited a lack of DNA evidence, questions over items allegedly stolen from Mrs Morriss' flat and hazy and unreliable evidence from witnesses as being among some of the more obvious weak points in the Crown case.

He also questioned the credibility of an associate of Goodman's who told police Goodman had admitted to the killing.

Mr Winter said the woman in question had in the past given false information to police and that she and Goodman had fallen out before the alleged admission, giving her reason to be malicious.

Mr Winter's colleague, Mike Antunovic, questioned the original judge's decision not to allow the jury to hear information a police officer had from an informant which suggested youths or men associated with the Mongrel Mob may have been responsible for the crime.

The withholding of that information compromised Goodman's right to a fair trial, he said.

Mr Antunovic also questioned an apparent lack of other suspects and said it was known that people linked to the Mongrel Mob were carrying out burglaries in Marton around the time of Mrs Morriss' murder.

Crown lawyer Andrew Cameron told the court the informant Mr Antunovic referred to had passed on information that was already second hand.

It was "hearsay on top of hearsay", he said. "There could be no reasonable assurance that the evidence was reliable."

He said the defence was on a "fishing expedition" in trying to implicate the Mongrel Mob in the murder and that police had checked and eliminated the suspects he referred to.

Mr Cameron did not accept Mr Winter's claims the different strands of the Crown evidence were flawed and said they in fact added together to make a compelling and watertight case.

The appeal was heard by justices Ellen France, Forrest Miller and Warwick Gendall, who reserved their decision.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter