28 May 2012

Gwaze jury retires for another night

5:09 pm on 28 May 2012

The jury deliberating in the High Court retrial of George Gwaze has once again retired for the day after failing to reach a verdict.

Mr Gwaze, 60, is charged with sexually violating and murdering his niece, Charlene Makaza, at their Christchurch home in January 2007.

After hearing 20 days of evidence from 88 witnesses, the jury of five men and seven women began its deliberations on Friday morning.

However, on Monday morning it revealed it was having difficulties reaching a unanimous decision.

Justice Christine French told jurors that they had reached a point where 11 may reach a verdict.

However, she cautioned the jury that before it delivers an 11-1 decision it must agree as a group that it is not possible to deliver a unanimous verdict.

She told jurors they were permitted to bring in a unanimous verdict on one or more counts and a majority on others.

Justice French again reminded them of the onus of proof and said their verdict must be beyond reasonable doubt.

After a further seven hours of deliberations on Monday, the jury once again asked to be excused and has retired until 10am on Tuesday.

The defence case is that 10-year-old Charlene Makaza 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.

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