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Cold case murder trial aborted in second week

Author
Kurt Bayer,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 May 2023, 2:50PM
David Hawken and Rebecca Wright-Meldrum have appeared at the High Court in Christchurch charged with the murder of Angela Blackmoore (inset) in 1995.
David Hawken and Rebecca Wright-Meldrum have appeared at the High Court in Christchurch charged with the murder of Angela Blackmoore (inset) in 1995.

Cold case murder trial aborted in second week

Author
Kurt Bayer,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 May 2023, 2:50PM

The trial of two people accused of murdering a Christchurch mother in 1995 has been aborted.

Former debt collector David Hawken, 50, and ex-stripper Rebecca Wright-Meldrum, 51, had denied murdering Angela Blackmoore on August 17, 1995 and were standing trial at the High Court in Christchurch.

The jury trial, which was scheduled to take four weeks, began last week and had heard from 18 witnesses before it was halted.

But this afternoon, Justice Cameron Mander told the jury that the trial had been aborted and they were free to go.

Justice Mander told the jury that they would be released from their service immediately.

“This morning, I made the decision, after having heard from the counsel, to abort this trial,” the judge said.

“I can’t go into the details with you as to why this has arisen except to broadly indicate that material has come to hand which counsel needs the opportunity to review.”

A series of adjournments during the trial was done to try and manage the situation and to ensure that counsel could be prepared and continue with the trial.

But “despite best endeavours” to continue with the trial, those efforts have effectively been in vain, Justice Mander said.

The decision to abort the trial came in the “interests of justice”, he said.

He thanked the jury for their service and said that he shares their frustration while adding the decision comes through no fault of the court of the system.

“It’s unavoidable that this step has to be made,” Justice Mander said.

It’s understood that a new trial could potentially begin in November.

A pre-trial callover on May 26 will confirm the new trial date.

For 25 years the case went unsolved before police suddenly received fresh information in 2019 and Jeremy Crinis James Powell was arrested.

He pleaded guilty and was jailed for at least 10 years for bludgeoning and stabbing Blackmoore 39 times.

During the trial, the Crown had alleged that Hawken ordered Powell – who was due to be a key Crown witness in the case - to carry out the hit, offering to pay $10,000, while Wright-Meldrum, a close friend and ex-lover of Blackmoore, helped him gain entry to her house.

It was alleged that Hawken wanted Blackmoore out of the way so he could profit from a property deal.

Wright-Meldrum’s defence counsel Stephanie Grieve KC had suggested to the jury earlier that the key issue for them was whether Powell is “credible and reliable” when he says Wright-Meldrum was with him when he murdered Blackmoore.

Hawken’s defence counsel Anne Stevens KC said that Hawken had nothing to do with Blackmoore’s murder and that he had “no wish that she die”.

Hawken had no motive, no money, and no power to order a murder, his defence team said.

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