News State QLD News Jury retires to consider verdict in Tostee murder trial

Jury retires to consider verdict in Tostee murder trial

A police photograph of Gable Tostee taken after his arrest in 2014. Photo: AAP.
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The jury in the Gable Tostee trial will resume deliberations on Tuesday morning as to whether he is guilty of killing Tinder date Warriena Wright, who fell to her death from his 14th floor apartment on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Tostee, 30, could be found guilty of either the murder or manslaughter of the New Zealand tourist in August 2014.

The pair had been on a first date which turned violent and saw Tostee lock Ms Wright on the balcony of his apartment.

The jury retired to consider a verdict on either murder or manslaughter earlier on Monday and had spent the afternoon deliberating.

On Monday, Brisbane Supreme Court Justice John Byrne summed up the six-day trial for the jury.

He said Tostee should be convicted of manslaughter if he was found to have unlawfully killed the woman he met on the dating app, Tinder.

But Justice Byrne said to find him guilty of the higher offence of murder, jurors would need to conclude Tostee intended to cause Ms Wight grievous bodily harm.

Justice Byrne said if the jury was to find Tostee guilty of either offence, they had to be satisfied his conduct intimidated Ms Wright and was a significant factor in causing her to climb over the balcony railing.

He said the prosecution described Tostee’s intimidation of Ms Wright as him physically restraining her, putting her outside the unit and locking the balcony door.

“If that choice of hers [to climb the balcony] was an irrational, disproportionate or unreasonable reaction to the conduct of the accused … you should not attribute legal responsibility to him for her decision,” Justice Byrne said.

Warriena Tagpuno Wright, 26, who fell to her death from the balcony of a high-rise apartment at Surfers Paradise
Ms Wright fell to her death from Tostee’s balcony in 2014. Photo: ABC.

“If you are left with a reasonable doubt about guilt your duty is to acquit, that is to find the accused not guilty.

“You should dismiss all feelings of sympathy or prejudice.”

Justice Byrne said hindsight was “20-20”, adding just because Ms Wright ultimately fell to her death that did not mean her actions were “reasonably foreseeable” by Tostee on the night.

After Ms Wright fell, CCTV footage showed Tostee leaving his apartment via his basement and wandering the streets alone.

He stopped at one point to buy pizza.

“It would be wrong for you to use any of the evidence of what the accused did over this period as advancing the prosecution case on murder or manslaughter,” Justice Byrne said.

Crown, defence closing addresses

Critical evidence used in the case is an audio recording Tostee made during the date – particularly the final six minutes before Ms Wright fell to her death in the early hours of August 8, 2014.

The Crown argued Tostee terrified Ms Wright to such an extent, she saw scaling the balcony as her only means of escape.

Gable Tostee
Defence argues Gable Tostee is not a ‘Tinder killer’ or ‘cartoonish villain’. Photo: AAP

Prosecutor Glen Cash QC argued while Ms Wright had probably unlawfully assaulted Tostee just prior to being locked out, his response was disproportionate and unlawful.

Mr Cash said the “panic and desperation” in Ms Wright’s voice moments before she fell “[spoke] more powerfully than [he] ever could about the cause of her death”.

Barrister Saul Holt QC said Tostee had ordered Ms Wright to leave his apartment via the front door, but she hit him with the metal part of a telescope, after which he grabbed her and put her behind the “nearest lockable door”.

Mr Holt said Ms Wright climbed over the balcony railing just seconds after, something that was neither rational nor reasonably foreseeable.

He argued the crown case was “nonsensical”, and Ms Wright, who had been erratic and “out of control” during the evening, had essentially decided to “climb to certain death”.

Mr Holt told the jury it was irrelevant whether they thought it was “weird” or morally questionable for Tostee to record the date, “but thank goodness he did”.