The two men charged with the murder of West Auckland man Lee McMurdo have been found guilty.
John Grant Cuthers, 29, and Andrew Parry Nicholson, 25, were arrested after a 13-month long investigation into McMurdo’s death, and today convicted after a seven day trial at the High Court in Auckland.
McMurdo was found dead by his 12-year-old daughter Lateasha at his rural home, 10km south of Helensville on July 29, 2011, but it is believed he died on the morning of July 27.
The 32-year-old was last seen alive on July 26, 2011, at 1.40pm.
The trial started at the High Court in Auckland last week, where Cuthers and Nicholson pleaded guilty to the other charges arising in the case – of supplying methamphetamine and taking a car.
Both denied the murder charge.
At the time of his death McMurdo is believed to have been dealing MDVP or “bath salts” – a party drug that has had violent side effects on some users overseas.
Last week Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery opened with a summary of what police say happened to McMurdo in the early hours of July 27, 2011.
Raftery said McMurdo was killed after Nicholson and Cuthers visited him on July 26 to supply him some methamphetamine.
McMurdo had begun taking the drug after his business began to struggle and his marriage broke down. On this occasion he couldn’t pay for the drugs. Instead, he offered the two men some pills to try.
Nicholson refused, but Cuthers took some of the drugs, the substance known as MDVP, a stimulant with psychoactive properties. The pair then left with another friend.
The next the pair were heard from was two days later, when, early on July 28, they turned up at a friend’s with a carload of electronics.
The Crown says the property was taken from McMurdo’s home when they returned early in the hours of July 27, robbed him and killed him.
After failing to get rid of the stolen goods, the pair travelled north to Nicholson’s family property, where they “laid low” for some months, Raftery said.
Meanwhile, back in Auckland, McMurdo’s daughter arrived at the home to find her father dead. Despite her distress, she was able to point out that televisions, an X-Box and other goods were missing from McMurdo’s home.
Raftery said police had little to go on, but over the course of a year managed to “put the pieces of the jigsaw together” and eventually arrested Nicholson and Cuthers, separately.
During that time Nicholson made several incriminating statements to different people, Raftery said.
Nicholson also said to another witness he “hadn’t meant” for McMurdo to die, Raftery said, but added that did not mean it wasn’t murder.
“If you attack someone and you know what you’re doing to them could well kill them you are guilty of murder,” he said at the .
Sentencing will take place on 14 February 2014.