11 Jun 2021

Simmonds beaten to death because of domestic abuse report, court told

6:25 pm on 11 June 2021

Warning: This story discusses graphic details of domestic violence.

A Northland woman was beaten to death because she reported domestic violence to police, a witness says.

Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial for the murder of Bridget Simmonds.

Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial for the murder of Bridget Simmonds. Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

Samuel Hemuera Pou denies murdering his former girlfriend Bridget Simmonds.

He is on trial in the High Court at Whangārei.

Today Pou's former housemate, David Erihe gave evidence.

Erihe said Pou told him during a drinking session around the time Simmonds went missing he had "wasted her" and "knocked her off" then burned her body.

Pou said he did it "because she was taking him to court for assault" and he was "blasé" when told to hand himself in, Erihe recalled.

"I had to stop him because someone else was coming round and I wanted him to be there."

This third person also heard the confessions, but Erihe would not name them in court today, despite pressure from Pou's defence counsel Arthur Fairley.

The two men lived together soon after the drinking session and Erihe said Pou spoke about Simmonds' death, "all the time".

"But he didn't do anything, well, he didn't give himself up."

Bridget Simmonds.

Bridget Simmonds Photo: Supplied

Erihe is one of at least 40 witnesses expected to be called in the case over the three-week trial.

The Crown alleges that Pou punched Simmonds and hit her with a tree branch for up to 90 minutes, then buried her body.

After extensive dive squad and ground searches Simmonds' remains were found in a shallow grave 15 months after she is believed to have died.

Pou's nephew Te Koha Samuel Pou is also on trial. The Crown alleges he was an accessory who helped his uncle avoid arrest, and dishonestly used Simmonds' bank card to take her money after she died.

Where to get help:

Women's Refuge: (0800 733 843)

It's Not OK (0800 456 450)

Shine: 0508 744 633

Victim Support: 0800 650 654

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): be 04 801 6655 - 0

The National Network of Family Violence Services NZ has information on specialist family violence agencies.