Chainsaw amputation, ambush shooting claims in Denver Chance trial

Author
John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Mar 2021, 4:50PM
Auckland man Denver Chance died in March 2019. Photo / supplied
Auckland man Denver Chance died in March 2019. Photo / supplied

Chainsaw amputation, ambush shooting claims in Denver Chance trial

Author
John Weekes, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Mar 2021, 4:50PM

About the only thing Denver Chance and the man accused of killing him had in common was a connection to the illegal drug world, a prosecutor says.

Jay Christopher Lingman admitted multiple drug charges on Wednesday morning at Auckland High Court, but denied murdering Chance.

And the defence said Lingman acted in a split-second to defend himself after furious globetrotting drug importer Chance threatened him over a perceived betrayal.

Jay Christopher Lingman has pleaded not guilty to murdering Denver  Chance. File photo / RNZ

Jay Christopher Lingman has pleaded not guilty to murdering Denver Chance. File photo / RNZ

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes said Lingman carried a Ruger 0.22 semi-automatic gun the day Chance was killed at Kingseat on Auckland's southwestern outskirts in 2019.

The prosecutor told the jury Chance went to Lingman's house in February that year, ventured up a long driveway, and approached the house before Lingman opened fire.

"He came around the side of the house and then shot Denver Chance six times while he stood at the door."

Kayes said the firearm had a silencer attached and three bullets hit Chance in the head, another hit his forearm, and two hit the front door of Lingman's house.

Lingman then placed Chance into a freezer, said Kayes.

"The defendant obtained a chainsaw and used it to all but amputate both legs of Denver Chance. He then folded those legs in and closed the freezer door."

Kayes said police eventually found drugs at Lingman's house, including 55g of cocaine and 200 MDMA tablets, as well as pink MDMA granules under Lingman's bed.

More than 1500 MDMA tablets and more than 7000 tablets of the Class C drug Phenylethylamine were found in a suitcase.

Kayes said the stash related to the charges of drug possession for supply, which Lingman admitted on Wednesday.

Jurors also heard Lingman told police when he was arrested after a night out in Remuera and Mt Eden: "I'm looking at some f***ing serious charges. I might not see my kid grow up."

And Lingman said of Chance: "What they said in the media about him being a gentle giant is a load of f***ing s***."

Jurors heard Lingman also told police: "I was fearing for my life. This a***hole was coming to kill me and my son. That's just what he does."

But Kayes said this was a lie, or an attempt to justify the killing.

He said police found an Impala shotgun, a 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, Diamondback AR-15 firearm and a Winchester bolt-action rifle at Lingman's house.

The prosecutor said Lingman went to some effort to conceal the killing, buying the chest freezer and waterblasting the front of the house.

Kayes said Lingman had a big blue shipping container delivered on a flatbed truck, and tried but initially failed to drive Chance's red Nissan Skyline into it.

Police used light-emitting luminol to find blood at the address, and DNA testing showed that blood was billions of times more likely to be Chance's blood than anyone else's.

"The defendant had tried to clean away the blood but the luminol revealed the truth."

Exactly how Chance and Lingman got to know each other was something of a mystery, Kayes said.

"One thing that the two men did have in common is a connection with illegal drugs."

In 2000, Chance was in Whang─ürei where police found a large cannabis grow room.

In 2002, Chance was arrested again after buying pseudoephedrine-based medications from pharmacies in Christchurch.

Both men had the Wickr encrypted messaging app, but Kayes said it might never be known what if any messages the men exchanged there.

'CRUCIAL SPLIT-SECOND'

After Kayes finished his remarks, defence counsel Steven Lack addressed the jury.

He said there was a clear reason for both men to be connected.

"Mr Lingman was one of Mr Chance's customers."

Lack said Chance imported cocaine, travelling to and from Central and South America sometimes as often as once a month.

Drug dealing was by its essence often clandestine, so it was no surprise Chance kept his involvement in the underworld hidden from friends and his family, Lack said.

"Mr Chance came to the conclusion that Mr Lingman had been ripping him off. That of course wasn't the case."

But Chance believed it, and was infuriated, Lack said.

"He made it very clear to Mr Lingman that he was furious."

Lack said Chance approached the Kingseat house with a firearm.

Attempts to reason with Chance had failed, Lack said, but Lingman tried again to find a peaceful solution.

Lingman armed himself out of necessity, Lack said, and the Ruger was loaded because he'd been shooting rabbits shortly before.

The defence counsel said Chance raised his firearm.

"Mr Lingman was left with no choice at the moment but to fire his weapon. This split second in time is the most crucial moment of this whole trial."

Lingman told jurors: "It is very difficult to know how you will react or someone will react until they have taken a person's life."

He said Lingman's attempts to conceal Chance's body and his outward displays of normality in the days after the death must be understood in a drug-dealing context.

Lingman had no desire to draw attention to the drugs at his house, and also had a young son he needed to take care of, Lack said.

"This was not a well thought-out plan or premeditated killing. It was quite the opposite."

The trial before Justice Melanie Harland and the jury continues.