Hicks jury asked to put aside prejudice

THE jury has been asked to put aside any prejudice against the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting and judge the case against him on the evidence.

Zayden was found bludgeoned to death in his cot on June 15, 2012.

The Crown alleges Harley Hicks committed a number of burglaries overnight on June 14/5, and killed the baby.

Hicks, 21, of Long Gully, has pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated burglary and theft.

In starting his closing address to the Supreme Court jury, defence counsel David Hallowes said he would vigorously deny Hicks burgled the Eaglehawk Road property and killed Zayden, and asked jurors to apply a blowtorch to the evidence.

Mr Hallowes reminded the jury he told them in his opening address they would not like Harley Hicks by the end of the trial.

“I said that you'd hear that he was a liar and you've certainly heard that over and over,’’  he said.

“There's no doubt he told lie after lie in that record of interview.

“I told you that you'd hear that he was a drug user and you've certainly heard evidence about that and I told you  that you'd hear that he was out committing offences on the night of the 14th and morning of 15 June.

“To add to that you've observed what can only be described as his moronic behaviour in the court room.

“If you think to yourself, well I don't really like the type of person Harley Hicks is, a liar, a drug user, a burglar, a thief, I don't like him … don't let that influence your decision.

“Your decision, your deliberations, your verdict must be based on the evidence and the evidence alone.

“If on the evidence you're satisfied that the prosecution have proved Harley Hicks' guilt beyond reasonable doubt then you must return a verdict of guilty on the evidence.

“But if, on the evidence, you're not satisfied of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt your verdict must be one of not guilty.’’

Mr Hallowes told the jury they should “wind the clock back’’ and their starting point “must be the presumption of innocence’’.

“You might remember how I mentioned also in my opening address to you that there's a danger that if you don't keep an open mind, you start somewhere other than innocent, it can affect the way you assess things.

“You can start to make excuses for any flaws or weaknesses in the prosecution case.

“For instance, the finding of Matthew Tisell's wallet on 20 June, the second search. It wasn't there on the first search, you might think, when you consider the evidence on 17 June.’’

“If you start with he is presumed to be innocent, the fact that no one finds the wallet there when the police are doing a thorough, methodical  search for stolen goods, knowing that Mr Tisell had had his wallet burgled on the night of the 14th, 15th of June, points to his innocence.

“It's a stumbling block for the prosecution ... similarly with the finding of the baton.’’

Mr Hallowes said there were many stumbling blocks for the prosecution – and the Crown could not prove Hicks was alone on the night of the offences.

He said the lie Hicks gave about Aiden Kirby being with him on the night was ‘shameful’ but the critical question was whether he committed all of the burglaries that night, and whether he did so on his own.

 “It's a terrible thing to do, a shameful thing to do but what I'll be suggesting it's not the most surprising thing … especially when that person out committing offences is Harley Hicks, a 19-year-old with a serious tendency to lie, who's just been told by a police officer upon arrest ‘this is pretty serious stuff, there's the death of a child’.

“He might just be the sort of person who wants to protect who he's with and he might just be the sort of person who's going to falsely nominate someone else.’’

Mr Hallowes said some of the evidence said by the Crown to be coincidental needed to be closely analysed.

“In essence you were told about how sometimes a circumstantial case - it's a bit like a jig-saw puzzle,’’ Mr Hicks said.

“Well, don't think, ‘oh, well, the picture must show Harley Hicks and these pieces that don't fit, we'll just discard them’.

"You don't start with the jig-saw puzzle finished; it's a matter of looking at the jig-saw: what does it actually show? Can you fit the pieces together? For the pieces that don't fit, it makes the prosecution case all that much harder.’’

The defence closing address continues.


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