Australian man found not guilty of Tinder date death

Gable Tostee stood trial for murder and manslaughter of tourist who fell to her death from his balcony

Warriena Wright (26) from New Zealand fell 14 storeys to her death from the balcony of Gable Tostee’s apartment in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Photograph: Queensland police

Warriena Wright (26) from New Zealand fell 14 storeys to her death from the balcony of Gable Tostee’s apartment in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Photograph: Queensland police

 

Gable Tostee has been found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Warriena Wright after four days’ of deliberation for the jury.

Mr Tostee (30) stood trial in the Brisbane supreme court for six days after pleading not guilty to the murder of Ms Wright (26) who fell to her death from his 14th-floor apartment in Surfers Paradise in the early hours of August 8th, 2014.

The crown alleged Mr Tostee had left Ms Wright in such a state of fear and intimidation that she felt the only way to escape was by climbing over the railing of the balcony after Mr Tostee locked her outside on it.

But defence lawyers said Mr Tostee had used reasonable force to subdue Ms Wright, who had become “increasingly erratic” after several hours’ drinking. He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder.

Ms Wright, on holiday on the Gold Coast from New Zealand, had met Tostee for the first time that night, August 7th, 2014. They had made contact on the dating app Tinder a week earlier.

The key piece of evidence in the trial was a 199-minute mobile recording made by Mr Tostee that captured the pair’s increasingly fractious interaction, including the moment Wright fell to her death.

Up to 45 seconds of Mr Tostee’s recording captured sounds that prosecutors said were consistent with him choking or strangling Ms Wright, which Mr Tostee denied.

That point, and whether Mr Tostee was culpable for her death, were the only points in dispute between the crown and the defence.

The jury of six men and six women retired on Monday and spent four days deliberating before reaching a verdict of not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Justice John Byrne had instructed the jury in his directions on Monday they could not find Mr Tostee guilty just because they think he should have behaved differently.

“It would be wrong for you to use any of the evidence ... as a base for the prosecution for murder.”

Justice Byrne quoted Hollywood director Billy Wilder to warn the jury “hindsight is always 20-20”.

The jury was told that they could only find Mr Tostee guilty of murder if they were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that he had the intention to cause her grievous bodily harm.

The guilty verdict of manslaughter was also available to the jury if they found he unlawfully killed Ms Wright, but did not have the intention to cause her grievous bodily harm.

Jurors asked Justice Byrne several questions in their deliberation, including about homeowners’ rights to remove disorderly people, whether language should be considered force, and the extent to which alcohol consumption should be taken into account in reaching a verdict.

The Guardian