22 Sep 2010

Napier jury returns not guilty verdicts in murder trial

10:02 pm on 22 September 2010

A High Court jury in Napier has found a man not guilty of murdering a father-of-six and attempting to murder one of his children.

In August last year, Layden Rameka, 35, was shot dead and his eight-year-old son Zepplen shot in an arm in the small settlement of Waikoau, near Napier.

Police began a manhunt and about nine hours later found the accused, Wilson Apatu, at a house in Clive.

The 40-year-old sickness beneficiary was accused of murder and attempted murder and found not guilty by a jury on Wednesday.

At the start of the 10-day day trial, defence lawyer Russell Fairbrother told the court his client accepted that he caused Mr Rameka's death, but it was not intentional.

Mr Fairbrother argued a partial defence of provocation.

The Crown disagreed, saying Mr Apatu planned to shoot Mr Rameka after being badly beaten in a fight several hours before the shooting.

The jury deliberated for about six hours before delivering its verdict.