Aaron Justin Middleton
NZ Herald story here
A high court jury last night acquitted a Hastings man on a charge of murdering his 16-year-old girlfriend, but found him guilty of manslaughter. Aaron Justin Middleton, 27, denied murdering Karen Nant on September 27 last year when she died from a single stab wound to the throat. The three-day trial in the High Court at Napier was the second in three months, after a hung jury prevented a decision at the end of the last trial. The jury yesterday took nearly six hours to reach its verdict. The Crown alleged that Middleton stabbed a vegetable knife into Ms Nant's throat when an argument broke out as they were eating dinner.
Middleton denied stabbing her, but said he stood up and flicked the knife in her direction without expecting such disastrous consequences. The court yesterday heard evidence from Wellington pathologist Kenneth Thomson, who said Ms Nant died as a result of a stab wound that had pierced her jugular vein and the top of her lung, causing internal bleeding. In his opinion, a vegetable knife such as the one that had caused the injury had only a negligible chance of causing the injury, unless it had been plunged in forcibly. During closing evidence yesterday, Crown prosecutor Russell Collins said Middleton had lied about the incident from the moment Ms Nant received the stab wound to the last interview with a detective the next morning.
Mr Collins said it didn't necessarily prove his guilt, but showed he couldn't come up with an innocent explanation. He told the jury Middleton's explanation that he had flicked the knife at Ms Nant was "the biggest piece of nonsense you are ever likely to hear" and an insult to their intelligence.Defence lawyer Tony Snell admitted there were inconsistencies in explanations Middleton had given in relation to the incident and surrounding circumstances, but the one thing he had maintained all along was that her death was an accident. Mr Snell described it as a domestic assault gone terribly wrong. He also asked the jury to disregard the violence and drugs mentioned throughout the trial relating to the couple's lifestyle. Middleton will appear in front of Justice Morris for sentence on November 8.
Date of Birth
Killed his 16 year old girlfriend at his Hastings home in September 2001
Sentenced to eight years in November 2002
First parole hearing August 2004
To be updated
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