Focus on intent of strangling

Rodney Fallowfield appears in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday, on the first day of his...
Rodney Fallowfield appears in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday, on the first day of his jury trial on a charge of murder. Photo: Luisa Girao
A man on trial for killing his wife during their belated honeymoon in Te Anau said he snapped and just wanted her to be quiet.

Rodney Stuart Fallowfield admitted the killing, but said he did not intend to murder Shirley Reedy in Te Anau on May 15 last year.

The jury trial for Fallowfield (53), who faces a charge of murder, began before Justice Jan-Marie Doogue in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday.

In her opening address, Crown solicitor Sarah McKenzie said there was no dispute about how and by whom Ms Reedy was killed — both parties admitted the woman was strangled in a hotel room by her husband.

The question of the trial was about his intention, and the Crown’s case was that he murdered Ms Reddy, she said.

Fallowfield and Ms Reedy lived in Balclutha and they knew each other about a year before their wedding in April 2019.

Since then, police attended six family harm incidents where Fallowfield and Ms Reedy were both "victims, aggressors, or offenders".

"Their relationship was not without issues," Ms McKenzie said.

Despite a non-association order issued by the Department of Corrections, Ms McKenzie said it seemed Ms Reedy and Fallowfield had been living together.

The defendant had described their relationship during that time as the best it had ever been, so much so that on May 7 last year he booked a motel room in Te Anau.

The day Ms Reedy was killed, the couple checked in at their accommodation and they headed to the township where they walked holding hands and bought some wine.

Ms McKenzie said Fallowfield told police that at some stage after the couple returned to the motel, Ms Reedy changed and they had a "bit of a tiff" about a previous rape allegation made by Ms Reedy against him.

"He said they didn’t yell or anything but Shirley Reedy threatened to have him up for rape again.

"He says he pleaded with her not to and that she started to yell ‘rape, rape’."

Fallowfield had told police he felt dirty and snapped.

"The defendant describes going over to Shirley Reedy and straddled her with a leg on either side of her torso and put his hands around her throat," Ms McKenzie said.

The jury heard that when he removed his hands, Ms Reedy lay limp.

"In his interview, he says he cuddled her, told her he loved her and he was sorry."

Ms McKenzie said

it was not a case where the defendant did not appreciate what he was doing and the very real consequences of his act, she said.

Defence counsel Katy Barker told jurors her client did not dispute killing his wife, nor the mechanism of her death.

"He is responsible and should be held responsible."

At the start of the trial, Fallowfield denied the charge of murder, but told the registrar he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Ms Barker said Fallowfield did not intend to kill his wife.

Much of the evidence presented in court was accepted by both parties, but the challenge for the jury was the interpretation of it, she said.

Ms Barker said the Crown would not be able to prove, without reasonable doubt, what the defendant’s state of mind was at the time of the offending.

"The defence’s case is that Mr Fallowfield just wanted his wife to be quiet. He did not intend to kill her," she said.

The trial before Justice Doogue continues today.

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