23 Apr 2013

Christchurch girl's murderer had killed before

10:34 pm on 23 April 2013

A man found guilty of murdering Christchurch girl Jade Bayliss was convicted of killing another teenager in Western Australia in 1995.

A jury at the Christchurch High Court on Tuesday afternoon found Jeremy McLaughlin, 35, guilty of murdering the 13-year-old at her home in November 2011.

Police sources in Australia have confirmed that McLaughlin killed Phillip Vidot, 14, in Perth. The killing was not headline news in New Zealand at the time, but featured prominently in the Australian media in 1995 and during the trial in 1997.

McLaughlin was convicted of manslaughter after he bashed Phillip Vidot and his friend Tyron Williams with a cricket bat. Phillip Vidot died.

In 2001, he returned to New Zealand after being released from jail and was not subject to monitoring because the crime occurred in another jurisdiction.

The Christchurch jury was not aware of his previous conviction and on Tuesday took about two hours to find McLaughlin guilty of strangling the daughter of his former partner, Tina Bayliss, after the girl caught him unlawfully inside the family home on 10 November 2011.

McLaughlin had admitted breaking into the house in Barrington Street, Christchurch, to steal items and attempting to burn the house down later that day.

However, he denied seeing Jade Bayliss in the house on either occasion and said that someone else strangled her.

Jeremy McLaughlin will be sentenced on 13 June.

Right decision, says family

The parents of Jade Bayliss, Gary and Tina Bayliss, said on Tuesday they are extremely relieved the trial is over and believe the jury made the right decision.

Outside court, Mr Bayliss expressed gratitude towards those that gave evidence, saying the guilty verdict will help the family come to terms with their loss.

Ms Bayliss said they hope that the sentence handed down to Jeremy McLaughlin reflects the seriousness of his crime, and there are no words to fully express how terrible the past 17 months have been.

The officer who oversaw the investigation gave an emotional statement outside court. Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae said it had taken a long time to get to this stage and police are grateful to the jury for their prompt verdict.

"The shock of this case is not just that someone has been killed, not just that a wee girl's been killed, but the fact that she was killed in her own home where we all expect our kids to be safe.

"Police are grateful for the support of the family during the case and we're very grateful for Tina and the effort they have put in. It's been a hard road to hoe for them."

Closing arguments

In closing statements on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Kathy Bell told the court that Jeremy McLaughlin unlawfully entered the Bayliss house twice on 10 November 2011 and during that time strangled Jade with a jug cord.

He then attempted to burn the house down to cover up the evidence.

Ms Bell told jurors not to underestimate the power of common sense and that given there is no disputing that McLaughlin's DNA was found under the girl's fingernails, the only option for them was to find him guilty of murder.

Defence lawyer Margaret Sewell said the Crown had tried every trick in the book to get the accused to admit to the murder of Jade Bayliss.

Ms Sewell said evidence of his movements around Christchurch the day Jade was killed were not the actions of a man who had just murdered a girl. She also said the amount of petrol used suggested that the accused was not trying to burn a body.

In summing up the case, Justice Panckhurst asked the jury to consider the possibility that there was another intruder who entered the house on the morning of the girl's death.

However, he said the lies McLaughlin told police when he was first arrested for the arson had tarnished his credibility.