23 Jun 2021

Bridget Simmonds murder trial: Lawyers make closing arguments

6:13 pm on 23 June 2021

Warning: This story discusses graphic details of domestic violence.

Lawyers have addressed the jury for the final time in the Bridget Simmonds murder trial in the High Court at Whangārei.

Bridget Simmonds.

Bridget Simmonds. Photo: Supplied

The 42-year-old mother of two was reported missing in March 2019. Her body was found buried in a shallow grave in farmland at Parakao, near Whangārei, 15 months later.

The Crown alleges Simmonds' ex-partner Samuel Hemuera Pou deliberately beat her to death, punching her and hitting her with a tree branch for up to 90 minutes.

He denies this and has been on trial for the last three weeks.

Dozens of witnesses have given evidence, including police who investigated the case and carried out interviews, scientists who completed the post-mortem on Simmonds' remains, her mother, Pou's niece, and his former flatmate.

During closing arguments today, prosecutor Mike Smith referred to a fracture in Simmonds' upper cheekbone.

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

Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial. Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

The jury had earlier heard scientific evidence stating this bone was probably broken around the time of her death, when some of her leg, foot and wrist bones were also likely fractured.

"The evidence does show that he [Samuel Pou] has crippled, disabled her in such a way that she cannot get away, she cannot escape," Smith said.

"That is why he seeks no help ... he buries her unmarked and unacknowledged."

This afternoon, defence counsel Arthur Fairley repeatedly told the jury his client had not intended to kill his partner when he assaulted her.

Samuel Hemuera Pou's defence counsel Arthur Fairley addressing the jury in the High Court at Whangārei.

Samuel Hemuera Pou's defence counsel Arthur Fairley addressing the jury in the High Court at Whangārei. Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

He said nobody could be confident the beating directly killed Simmonds, because her remains were so decayed by the time they were found.

"No expert can tell us what the cause of death was."

Fairley said it was possible some of the fresh fractures, like that on Simmonds' face, happened when Pou dragged her body 90m and rolled it down a bank after she died.

The Crown also alleges Pou's nephew Te Koha Samuel Pou helped his uncle avoid arrest when police investigated a beating Simmonds suffered on Valentine's Day 2019, just days before she was last seen.

Te Koha Pou is also charged with dishonestly using Simmonds' bank card after she went missing.

Defence counsel John Moroney has argued in both of these instances, his client was unaware of what his uncle had done to Simmonds.

"It all comes down to what he [Te Koha Pou] knew," he told the jury this afternoon.

Justice Christine Gordon will address the jury tomorrow morning before they deliberate.

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