ZB

Five months after Auckland man fell to his death, manslaughter accused loses suppression bid

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Jul 2022, 4:34pm
Two men were charged with manslaughter following Joesph Tahana's death in February. Photo / Supplied
Two men were charged with manslaughter following Joesph Tahana's death in February. Photo / Supplied

Five months after Auckland man fell to his death, manslaughter accused loses suppression bid

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Jul 2022, 4:34pm

A man accused of causing a 29-year-old to fall to his death from a downtown Auckland building five months ago should no longer be allowed to keep his name a secret, a judge ruled today.

However, Justice Simon Moore allowed the 38-year-old central Auckland resident to keep name suppression in place for four weeks so the defendant can decide whether to contest the decision before the Court of Appeal.

The man and a 30-year-old co-defendant from Epsom were both charged with manslaughter in March - just over a month after the February 19 death of central Auckland resident Joesph Tahana, whose body was found on St Pauls St near the Auckland University of Technology campus.

Court records state the duo used threats or fear of violence to cause Tahana to do an act that caused his death.

A large group of Tahana's family - including his mother, who travelled from Northland, and his father, who lives in Christchurch - gathered today in the High Court at Auckland as the name suppression case was argued. Neither defendant, however, was present.

The co-defendant from Epsom is expected to have a separate name suppression hearing next month.

During today's hearing, Justice Moore considered an unsworn affidavit from the defendant in which he said he is "extremely fearful" that his safety would be compromised if his identity was known because of what he said were Tahana's gang ties.

However, police investigated the defendant's statements and didn't find Tahana to have any gang connections, Moore noted.

"It would appear the stated concerns are unfounded," he said. "There is no evidence of threats being made directly or indirectly to him."

Publication of the defendant's name is also unlikely to violate his right to a fair trial, Moore added.

"This is not a so-called notorious case where public interest has been captured by salacious detail," he explained, adding that even though the facts of the case are unusual media coverage to date "has been modest".

The judge did order that media not disclose previously unreported details of the case revealed during the hearing.

The duo have a jury trial scheduled for next year.