25 May 2012

Gwaze jury retires for weekend

6:11 pm on 25 May 2012

The jury in the murder retrial of George Gwaze has retired for the weekend and will resume its deliberations on Monday.

The 60-year-old former Zimbabwean vet is charged with sexually violating and murdering his niece, Charlene Makaza, at their Christchurch home in January 2007.

In its closing address in the Christchurch High Court on Friday, the defence said evidence from expert witnesses proved that the 10-year-old died of septic shock caused by the HIV infection she had carried since birth and her injuries were also caused by the disease.

The Crown says she suffered blunt force trauma and that George Gwaze had suffocated the girl while violating her.

In her summing up on Friday, Justice French told the jury the Crown must prove Mr Gwaze's guilt to a very high standard. She acknowledged that the death of a child is an emotional issue, but urged jurors to put that aside.

The jury began its deliberations at 11.05am on Friday and asked two questions of clarification before being sent home for the weekend.

Justice French ordered jurors to avoid all media reports on the case and all social media sites on the internet.