Hung jury in NZer’s road rage death trial


A jury has been unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a New Zealand father-of-three charged over the death of a man on a busy Queensland motorway in 2015.
Tamate Henry Heke is fighting allegations he unlawfully killed Shane Merrigan by punching the 50-year-old before he was fatally hit by a rubbish truck on the Gateway Motorway.
Brisbane Supreme Court jurors retired shortly before 11am on Friday to start deliberations but were discharged on Monday afdternoon after they were unable to reach either a unanimous or majority verdict.
Heke had pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter, as well as not guilty to an alternative charge of unlawful striking causing death, over the incident at Eight Mile Plains on December 1, 2015.
The two men had never met before the fatal encounter and were both making their way home from work when they pulled over to face each other “for about 13 seconds”, the trial heard.
Photographs showing the truck’s blood-splattered wheels, mudguards and bumper were viewed by jurors on the first day of the trial, as well as graphic footage from a motorway camera showing the two cars pulling on to the road’s shoulder, the men getting out and the moment of impact.
In his closing remarks, defence barrister Anthony Kimmins had argued his client was a victim of road rage and said Merrigan’s driving style that afternoon had been “aggressive”.
“While minding his own business, the Gateway Motorway . . . turned into a version of The Fast and the Furious,” he said.
Crown prosecutor Clare Kelly urged jurors to convict Heke, claiming his blow felled Mr Merrigan like a tree. “It really is just a matter of common sense . . . that the punch led to Mr Merrigan’s death,” she said. AAP

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