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Differing Accounts Emerge About Auburn Reserve Death

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Sept 30 NZPA - Contradictory accounts of what happened the night a teenager was bashed and died in Christchurch are emerging from his Auburn Reserve drinking companions.

At a depositions hearing in Christchurch District Court, the Crown has charged two men with the murder of 16-year-old Sean Martin William Philip Finnerty-Gallagher, but it acknowledges they are blaming each other for the death.

The court has now heard from witnesses who say they heard varying accounts from the group of drinkers in the day after Mr Finnerty-Gallagher was found dead, the Christchurch Court News website reported.

A 15-year-old girl -- too young to be named in a court report -- broke down in tears in the witness box when she gave evidence of meeting members of the group at the Christchurch City Library that day, where they were using the free computers.

She was told, "guess what happened last night. Shaun died," by another member of the group, who blamed the two men charged, Thomas Tihema Christie, 25, and Sonny Avon Rehu, 31.

The girl said the person who told her then gave her a blood-stained hoodie that had been worn by Mr Finnerty-Gallagher. She didn't want it.

He also told her Mr Finnerty-Gallagher had been caught stealing from a liquor store the previous night. "He then said Shaun got a hiding from the security guards and he fell over next to a tree and that's when the security guard guy and Tom Tom (Christie) ran over to see if he was all right."

She said this other drinker accused Christie and Rehu of killing the boy, and Christie confronted him about it.

When she told the pair about it, Rehu said they didn't know who did it because there were seven of them there. That included "two guys on a bike".

In his video-taped interview with the police, Rehu spoke of Mr Finnerty-Gallagher leaving the park with "a guy on a bike" who he described as a skinhead with a swastika tattoo on his neck. He said the boy returned with blood on his face and said he had been punched.

The Crown said Mr Finnerty-Gallagher had not died of his facial and head injuries, but from positional asphyxia. He had been knocked unconscious, and his airway was partly blocked by blood. As he lay in the park during the night, he passed into a coma and died.

He was found dead by ambulance officers next morning after Christie made an anonymous 111 call from a public phone box.

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