Appeal against conviction for murder of teen lost

An Invercargill man sentenced to life imprisonment after the death of Jack McAllister has lost an appeal against his conviction.

Justice Murray Gilbert released his decision yesterday following an appeal in the Court of Appeal by Christopher James Brown, who was found guilty as a party to the murder of McAllister after in 2018.

Brown was sentenced to life imprisonment and with a minimum period of 10 years.

On June 8, 2017, 19-year-old Jack McAllister was lured to Stadium Southland with the promise of sex from a young woman; he was attacked by seven people and suffered 14 stab wounds, including one which severed a major artery.

The decision states Brown’s lawyer Fiona Guy Kidd appealed his conviction, arguing a miscarriage of justice occurred at his trial on three occasions.

She said illegitimate and prejudicial propensity evidence was given by a family member of Brown about his tendency to "rage".

The declining of the judge to warn the jury about the reliability of the evidence from a 16-year-old girl involved in the incident was also highlighted in the appeal.

Mrs Guy Kidd said her client argued the girl had a motive to give false evidence about him because she hoped to get a reduction on her sentence at appeal in recognition of her assistance in giving evidence for the Crown.

The last point of the appeal was a letter from the same girl to Brown from prison — she wrote to him saying she had told lies at the trial.

In his decision, Justice Gilbert said the comments from the family member were irrelevant and he was not persuaded that there was "any real risk of a miscarriage of justice having occurred on this ground".

About the lack of warning from the judge, Justice Gilbert said the decision to decline to give a reliability warning about the woman’s evidence was adequate and he did not consider there was any real risk the outcome of the trial was affected.

Justice Gilbert also dismissed the appeal about the letter, saying the girl confirmed the contents of her affidavit at the hearing of the appeal and was cross-examined on it.

"We accept her explanation for making the statements in her letter to Mr Brown — she felt responsible for the events that unfolded and wished to assist Mr Brown with his conviction appeal."

Brown and six others were charged in relation to the murder.

Brayden Whiting-Roff pleaded guilty to murder shortly before the trial and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum period of 12 years and six months.

The 16-year-old girl pleaded guilty to being a party to the murder four months before the trial. She was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum period of 10 years.

Laura Scheepers was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention after being found guilty of manslaughter.

Crystal Murray, Natasha Ruffell and David Wilson were found not guilty.

An appeal about Brown’s sentencing still be heard separately.

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

 

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