Evidence from murder accused

"His family deserve to know the truth and I need to be accountable for my life, otherwise I can’t change."

Those were the words of murder-accused Sandy Graham as she gave evidence in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday.

Graham (32) is charged with the murder of 40-year-old Dale Watene; and George Ivor Hyde (25) is charged with accessory after the fact to murder at Otautau between April 16 and 27, 2020.

They both pleaded not guilty at earlier appearances and a jury trial has been held before Justice Gerald Nation since June 13 for the Crown to prove its case against both.

Cross-examining Graham yesterday, Crown lawyer Riki Donnelly said the gun was checked by Craig Braven before he handed it back to Graham after a possum-hunting trip.

Mr Donnelly said there was no way there would have been a bullet in the chamber and put it to Graham that the magazine was actually in the rifle when Mr Watene was shot.

"No," she replied.

The evidence from Institute of Environmental Research and Science armoury specialist Angus Newton and consultant pathologist Dr Martin Sage showed the gun could not have been in Mr Watene’s mouth when he was killed.

Mr Donnelly: "It wasn’t a case of a fight over a firearm because he was further away — he could not have been touching it at the time. Instead you’ve loaded the firearm and chosen to shoot him."

Graham: "No I have not.

Mr Donnelly: "You have shot it intending to kill him and knowing it is the likely consequence."

Graham: "No."

Graham yesterday admitted many times that she did not tell the truth when she spoke about Mr Watene’s disappearance and death.

She said her lying to police and others stemmed from the fact she didn’t want to get caught with a firearm at her house as she was still on conditions after serving a home detention sentence for drink-driving.

She thought the finding of the firearm would result in her children being taken from her.

Mr Donnelly said Sergeant Fred Shandley gave her plenty of opportunity to tell the truth when she was interviewed by him on August 4, 2020.

She said she was too far into the lie by then.

"You were arrested for murder and you were still worried about possession of a firearm?" Mr Donnelly asked Graham yesterday.

"I’m not really sure what was going through my head," Graham replied.

Questions also arose about the communication between Graham and Hyde straight after Mr Watene died.

Graham said neither she nor Hyde talked about what happened after the night Mr Watene died.

Under cross-examination by Hyde’s defence counsel, Fiona Guy Kidd, QC, Graham admitted she had not told Hyde why she asked him to come to her Sorn St home on the night Mr Watene died.

When Hyde arrived, Graham told him Mr Watene had hurt himself and later that he had shot himself.

Mrs Guy Kidd: "Mr Hyde didn’t challenge you over it, did he?"

Graham: "We didn’t really talk about it any more."

The site where Mr Watene was buried was found to be covered in bricks, chimney flashings and wallpaper, which an ESR scientist said were extremely likely to have come from Hyde’s address.

Graham denied they had a conversation about burying Mr Watene or about covering up the grave with bricks to hide where the soil had been disturbed.

She admitted she had texted Hyde to "bring load of bricks" on the same day Hyde returned to the grave and put materials from his house over the grave site but said she had asked for them as she wanted to pave around her outdoor bath, she said.

When questioned by Mrs Guy Kidd, Graham admitted Hyde never delivered any bricks to her house.

The trial continues on Monday.




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