South Head murder trial: Jury retires to deliberate

A jury will decide the fate of a woman who fatally shot her partner on his rural Auckland property thinking he was an intruder.

Amy Christine Smith is on trial in the High Court at Auckland accused of murdering Danny Bruce Taylor in April, 2019.

This morning Justice Mary Peters summarised the case, leaving it for the jury to decide if Smith intentionally fired the gun and if she was acting in self-defence.

“Everyone accepts that the shot discharged from that firearm in the very early hours of 3 April 2019 caused Mr Taylor’s death,” she said.

At that time there was a substantial amount of cannabis in the converted barn Taylor called home in South Head and the pair feared it would be stolen.

Smith believed an intruder was on the property that night and went downstairs arming herself with a rifle that was already loaded.

At the point she thought she was going to have to use it, she told the court, she put the bolt down.

She had not identified who was there. She maintains she never consciously fired the gun but accepts her finger was on the trigger.

When the gun fired, the bullet went through Taylor’s arm and lung, striking his heart.

Smith called 111 for an ambulance but the 52-year-old died before it arrived.

In the call Smith described Taylor as pale and tried to stem the bleeding as the call taker repeatedly told her to apply pressure on the wound.

The call taker asked what Smith had shot Taylor with.

“I shot him with a .22,” she said.

“I thought he was an intruder.

“I didn’t realise he had gone downstairs.”

This morning, Justice Peters told the jury: “The verdict is for you to decide as is the facts.”

In the Crown case Taylor and Smith anticipated they would be the targets of theft and had prepared by loading guns, she said.

“The Crown’s view of it is that Ms Smith at least was determined there would be no more thefts.”

It was further alleged she was frustrated by what she perceived as Taylor’s failure to be more assertive in protecting what was his and fired a deliberate shot in attack.

The prosecutor had submitted this was borne out in the letters she wrote from prison in which she said she thought she was “shooting an intruder”.

In the defence case there was no plan to take action, rather Taylor planned on talking to the people they believed would rob them to try avoid any situation.

Further, the defence says Smith thought there was someone inside and feeling something coming towards her, she moved backwards and the gun went off.

“Not aimed. Not lifted to the shoulder. But a defensive response to what she perceived as an attack.”

The jury retired about 12.41pm.

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