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The trial of William Martin (21), Maori truck driver (Mr. Gerard), on a charge of manslaughter at Pakotai on April 2, of William Arnesen, farmer, of Dargaville, whose skull was fractured in the course of a melee between three brothers and some Maoris, was continued before Mr. Justice Cornish and a jury in the Supreme Court to-day.

Mr. V. R. Meredith prosecuted for the Crown.

Cross-examined, Ernest Arnesen, a brother of the dead man, said that at the time he saw his brother fall just at the outset of the scuffle with the Maoris it was dark. He could distinguish forms, but could not identify them. It was about 7 p.m. At the time he had a spade, and Bill had an axe.

Norman Arnesen, aged 19, described an earlier affray with the Maoris over some beer missing from their truck at Pakotai after the Maoris had been treated by his brothers. There were then about ten Maoris against them, and he and his brothers ran away. When they returned later to the truck and found some clothes and a guitar missing, they went to the Martins' house to try to recover the things, and the second scuffle took place. He thought there were seven Maoris, and Bill told them he had had enough trouble but he wanted the guitar back. Witness saw a hand go up from the Maori group as if something was being thrown. He heard a thud and saw Bill stagger and fall. Witness could not say who did the throwing. Some Maoris then started to pull Bill about, and when witness and his brother Ernest went to his assistance they were knocked about. Maoris' Version Walter Martin, an elder brother of the accused, said that at the beginning of the second fight Bill Arnesen hit witness' father on the forehead with the edge of an axe. That started the general fight, and accused beat Bill Arnesen to the ground, when the latter said he would give in. He did not see any stone picked up or thrown. W. Tikena Martin, father of accused, said he was pushing BUI Arnesen aside when another Arnesen hit him on the side of the head with the side of a spade, which witness wrenched off him and threw away. He said they would fight with fists, and Arnesen said the Maoris had won the fight. Later, he saw one of the Arnesens on the ground. The accused had attacked this man who fell on the ground and William, fell with him. That man had tried to hit witness with an axe, but missed, and a voung Arnesen pulled the axe away. He thought the trouble was caused by the pakehas being drunk. To his Honor witness said he was struck twice by the spade before he got hold of it and pulled it away. George Tipeni said he saw thehrst fight, but did not take part. The Arnesens,'in his opinion, were then not sober. Statement by Accused Constable J. Frain testified that at the place where the first fight occurred he found 16 empty beer bottles. The stone produced was found next day near the spot where William Arnesen was said to have been knocked down in the second Detective E. W. Mahood testified to a statement made by accused saying that in the second fight he saw William Arnesen threatening accused's father with an axe and jumped on Arnesen. They both fell to the ground. While struggling on the ground, the accused said, he might have picked up something and struck Arnesen, or Arnesen might have fallen on the axe, because he ceased struggling and gave in. Later, on hearing .of Arnesen's death, accused added to his statement that he struck Arnesen with a stone in his hand when they were struggling on the ground in the dark.


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Bibliographic details

MAORI ON TRIAL, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 175, 26 July 1945

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MAORI ON TRIAL Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 175, 26 July 1945

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