28 Jul 2023

Samuel Pou found guilty in murder re-trial of Northland woman Bridget Simmonds

11:26 am on 28 July 2023

By Shannon Pitman of NZ Herald

Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial for the murder of Bridget Simmonds in June 2021.

Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial for the murder of Bridget Simmonds in June 2021 at the Whangārei High Court. Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

WARNING: This article discusses graphic domestic violence and may be upsetting to some readers.

A jury returned a guilty verdict in three hours for a Northlander granted a re-trial for the murder of his girlfriend whose remains were found buried on his land 15 months after she disappeared.

Samuel Pou, 60, of Whangārei has been on trial in the High Court at Whangārei for the past two weeks before Justice Tracey Walker and a jury of seven men and four women.

The court heard for the second time the tragic details of Bridget Simmonds' relationship with Pou, whom she had met in late 2018.

By early 2019, Simmonds had moved in with Pou but the brief relationship was scattered with violence and the jury heard of two occasions violence inflicted by Pou had been reported to police in the weeks prior to her disappearance.

Simmonds had suffered a lacerated ear in one incident, a torn eye retina in another and police described her as having "bruises on bruises, some old, some new".

Bridget Simmonds.

Bridget Simmonds. Photo: Supplied

Following the last beating where her eye was severely damaged, Simmonds retreated to her mother's in Kerikeri to recover, only to return days later to Whangārei on 23 February, 2019, where her mother dropped her at Countdown in Regent.

As she walked away, her mother recalled Simmonds yelling out to her "Don't forget my headstone" in what was the last time anyone saw her alive.

A taxi driver later dropped Simmonds at Pou's cabin on a rural property on Wilsons Road, Titoki, 45 minutes west of Whangārei.

That evening Pou delivered 100 blows to Simmond's body, fracturing her legs so she could not walk and buried her 100 metres from his campsite.

Months later, Pou would tell his drinking buddies: "I wasted her and knocked her off."

Witness David Erihe said Pou had done it because Simmonds was going to take him to court for a previous assault and that he "told the whole hood".

"That wasn't the first time he blabbered it out," Erihe said in his statement.

When first brought in for questioning in 2019, Pou said he did not know where she was or what happened to her but as police investigation started intensifying on the Titoki property 15 months later, Pou confessed to what he did.

On 10 June, 2020, Pou told police: "You're digging the wrong spot", and led them to the site where he buried Simmonds on the shoreline of the Mangakahia River.

It was the defence case that Pou did not intend to kill her and he did not have murderous intent. However, the Crown was able to prove otherwise.

"He beat her, she died from this beating," Crown solicitor Mike Smith told the jury.

The jury deliberated for about three hours and returned a unanimous guilty verdict on Thursday.

Pou will reappear in early August to set a sentencing date.

- This story was originally published by the New Zealand Herald.