George Gwaze has been acquitted; the Herald reports:
George Gwaze has been found not guilty of murdering his 10-year-old niece.The jury of seven men and five women considered their verdict for almost six hours on Friday and another seven hours yesterday after a four-week retrial at the High Court in Christchurch, before coming to a decision today.Gwaze had denied one count of murder and two charges of sexual violation of HIV positive Charlene at their family home in Christchurch in January 2007.The Crown alleged that Charlene, who had HIV, was sexually attacked and suffocated by her uncle.The defence claimed she had HIV which she had carried since birth, and that was what killed her.
What makes this case rare and noteworthy however, is that it the second time that a jury has acquitted Mr Gwaze. He was found not guilty by a Christchurch High Court jury in July 2009.
There the matter would normally have ended. However the Crown appealed the acquittal in the Court of Appeal on the basis that the trial judge had erred by allowing defence evidence from a South African paediatric surgeon. The Court of Appeal turned down the Crown's appeal by a two-to-one majority.
Not satisfied, the Crown then took the case to the Supreme Court, and as Stuff reported on 17 May 2010, won a prededent-setting case:
George Gwaze will face a retrial for the rape and murder of his niece in Christchurch after the Supreme Court overturned the jury's not guilty verdict and ordered a new trial.The Crown has succeeded in a last-ditch bid in the Supreme Court to have murder-accused Gwaze retried.The Supreme Court released its decision at 4pm to allow the Crown appeal and quashed Gwaze's previous acquittals.A certified direction for new trial will be issued to the registrar of the High Court at Christchurch, the decision says.It is believed to be the first time the Supreme Court has overturned a not guilty verdict on a murder charge.
Today a second High Court jury has acquitted Mr Gwaze. We have grave reservations however that he should ever have been retried. We would be especially interested in comments from some of our lawyer readers on the legal aspects of the case