Murder trial: jury retires to consider verdict

Accused murderer Sandy Graham, and the man accused of being accessory after the fact, George Hyde...
Accused murderer Sandy Graham, and the man accused of being accessory after the fact, George Hyde, sit in the dock at the High Court in Invercargill at the beginning of the trial. PHOTO: KAREN PASCO
A jury has begun deliberations to decide whether Sandy Graham murdered Dale Watene.

Graham (32) is charged with Mr Watene’s murder at her Otautau home on April 16, 2020.

George Ivor Hyde (25) is accused of being an accessory after the fact to murder between April 16 and 27, 2020.

Mr Watene was found buried in a shallow grave in the Longwood Forest near Otautau on May 18, 2020.

In his summing up on the 16th day of the trial in the High Court at Invercargill yesterday, Justice Gerald Nation said the jury had to decide whether Graham was guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter, or not guilty.

Justice Nation said the jury would need to decide on Graham’s charge before turning to look at Hyde’s.

For Hyde, the decision was whether he was guilty of accessory after the fact to murder, accessory after the fact to manslaughter, or not guilty.

Jurors were directed to look at Hyde’s charge separately, meaning he could be found guilty of accessory after the fact to manslaughter even if Graham was found guilty of murder.

Jurors began deliberating at 4pm and retired for the night at 5pm.

In closing yesterday, Hyde’s lawyer, Fiona Guy Kidd, QC, said jurors should not focus on what Hyde should have known at the time he disposed of Mr Watene’s body but what he actually knew between April 16 and 27, 2020.

"He did not know that Sandy Graham had killed Dale Watene.

"He believed Sandy Graham when she told him that Dale had shot himself," she said.

Hyde did not help Graham so she would escape being arrested for murder or manslaughter; he helped her because she was not allowed firearms as part of her post home-detention conditions, and she could go to jail and lose her children, she said.

She said the pair had been friends for about seven years, and he trusted her and believed the story she told him.

"Graham Hyde wasn’t there when Dale Watene died.

"He didn’t see what happened; he didn’t see the firearm involved."

Even during his police interview in September 2020, Hyde was still struggling with the suggestion the story was not as he had been told.

Wilful blindness, when a person did not ask questions as they knew what it would reveal, did not apply in this instance.

Hyde was a quiet man by nature, with learning difficulties, who did not like confrontation, she said. He was not a clever manipulator.

"Is it not reasonably possible that Mr Hyde was duped by Ms Graham?"

It was not until after he was arrested in August and told by police Mr Watene did not kill himself that Hyde even considered a different version of events.

"But you cannot be sure that at the time he assisted Ms Graham, that Mr Hyde knew that she had committed murder and you cannot be sure that Mr Hyde at the time he helped her knew that she had killed Mr Watene."

A juror was discharged before proceedings started yesterday after his partner tested positive for Covid-19.

Justice Nation told jurors that although the man had tested negative, the risk to other jurors was one he wanted to avoid.

The jury resumes deliberations at 9am today.






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