8 Aug 2018

Killer's 'long conversation' with victim's spirit - defence

5:53 pm on 8 August 2018

Was it a drug deal gone wrong or the actions of an insane man?

29-year-old man Gabriel Yad-Elohim has been charged with the murder of Michael Mulholland in Western Springs.

29-year-old man Gabriel Yad-Elohim has been charged with the murder of Michael Mulholland in Western Springs. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

That's the question jurors will have to grapple with when they decide whether Gabriel Yad-Elohim is guilty of murdering Michael Mulholland in September last year.

Mr Gabriel Yad-Elohim is on trial at the High Court in Auckland, where he's denied murdering Mr Mulholland on grounds of insanity.

The Crown has said Mr Yad-Elohim was trying to get drugs but got ripped off in the deal and stomped and struck Mr Mulholland 91 times.

In her closing address, Mr Yad-Elohim's lawyer Annabel Cresswell said her client had only been released from Auckland Hospital's mental health unit, Te Whetu Tawera, three days before the killing.

"You might well think he was still suffering from severe psychosis at this point but Te Whetu Tawera don't appear to want to take any responsibility for that release."

Ms Cresswell said he was hearing voices shortly before kicking and stomping Mr Mulholland to death and, possibly, even during the ordeal.

"Half-way through beating the victim who was clearly unconscious and barely alive, he thought the victim had spoken to him, so he returned and kicked the victim some more."

She said Mr Yad-Elohim was still hearing voices the following day when he was arrested by the police and taken for an interview, recorded on DVD.

"Through-out this interview he raised his glass, or his cup of water, to non-apparent stimuli in the corner of the interviewing room and later had a long conversation with a spirit of the victim, talking about God, Nirvana and how: 'This is what you wanted'."

Ms Cresswell said her client had a disease of the mind and could not know right from wrong.

She said her client has remained unwell and believed God had his back, the future was predetermined, and that the 12 jurors represented the 12 tribes of Israel.

But Crown prosecutor Kirsten Lummis said he reacted angrily when he was ripped off in a drug deal.

"He knew it was going to put Mr Mulholland in hospital for a long time, he spoke about months. He knew he wasn't going to get up, miraculously, after he left the stairwell. He intended to put him out of action, to make sure that when he left that stairwell, Mr Mulholland couldn't retaliate."

She said Mr Yad-Elohim had been after methamphetamine but lost his $200 after giving his money to a woman who ran off.

"The motivation was revenge, retribution - not divine retribution - simple retribution."

She said district health board's mental health unit, Te Whetu Tawera was not on trial. The clinical director explained that the unit was full and in his mind, Mr Yad-Elohim was not psychotic at the time, she said.

Forensic opinions and hindsight suggests that's unlikely to be correct, she said.

"It is a very sad indictment on our community that we have just the 56 beds available for acute mental health and that, it would seem, sometimes doesn't appear to be enough but that is not what this trial is about. It's about what happened in that stairwell.

"The actions of Mr Yad-Elohim in that stairwell when he kicked and stomped Mr Mulholland to death."

She said it was significant that after the attack, Mr Yad-Elohim went to Karangahape Rd to get his fix of methamphetamine.

"Truth really is often stranger than fiction. Crazy? Odd? Misguided? Yes. But legally legally insane? The Crown says: 'No'."

Tomorrow the jurors will hear Justice van Bohemen sum up the case before they retire to consider their verdicts.

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