Jurors in the trial of a Taranaki farmer accused of murdering his son have been told the first thing they must decide is whether there has been a death.
Justice Heath has been summing up in the High Court in New Plymouth.
The Crown said David Roigard killed his son Aaron in June 2014 when he could no longer conceal he had stolen more than $66,000 from him.
The 27-year-old father of two was last seen near Waiteika Road in Opunake in June last year following a family disagreement.
His bank account and cellphone have not been used since, and extensive land, sea and air searches have failed to locate him.
Justice Heath told the jury this was an unusual case because there was no body.
He said, if the jury ruled out suicide as the reason for Aaron's disappearance, it had to decide if his father had caused his death with murderous intent.
Justice Heath said, if jurors found he had not, they could consider a verdict of manslaughter.
Earlier, defence lawyer Paul Keegan told the jury a father does not murder his son over $66,000.
In his closing address, Mr Keegan told the court Mr Roigard told his son about the theft of his life savings.
He said Mr Roigard underestimated his son's reaction to his betrayal, and the question was whether suicide, manslaughter or premeditated murder happened next.
He said suicide could not be ruled out and neither could the possibility David Roigard killed his son in the heat of the moment but did not mean to.
Mr Keegan said the Crown's claim of a meticulously planned murder did not stack up.