Emma Field murder: Mongrel Mob member accused of setting fire

Robin Martin Robin Martin | 06-11 00:20

The defence counsel for a man charged with killing his partner following a fatal fire in New Plymouth, has accused a Mongrel Mob member of being the murderer.

Leigh Matthew Beer is on trial at the High Court charged with arson and murder following the death of 21-year-old Emma Field in May 2022.

He also faces a charge of assault with intent to injure for assaulting a motorist who stopped to help.

After an evening of drinking and drug-taking, Beer tipped over a bed on which Field was sleeping, set the mattress alight and left her to burn to death, the Crown alleges.

Beer has denied the charges, saying the case against him was circumstantial and someone else could have lit the fire.

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(Source: Breakfast)

Mongrel Mob member Edmond Quentin Cook has been giving evidence today.

He told the jury that he had climbed a fence between the Braemar Motor Inn, an emergency housing provider, and the Devon St West property to see if he could help after he and his partner Shontelle Nepe-Pearce had heard screaming.

He told Crown prosecutor Cherie Clarke that when he came around the front of the house he saw a bearded man in a red-checked shirt lying on the ground hugging a hose screaming out the name Emma.

Cook said he spoke to some young men and a man in a hi-vis shirt and asked if there was anybody still inside the house.

The hi-vis man went across to speak to the man with the hose, he said and the next thing he knew the two men "were wrestling on the ground".

Cook said he left the property when he heard emergency services arriving.

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"Me and the pigs – the cops – I don't like them and I didn't want to be around, so I as soon as I heard sirens I was like I'm not needed here anyway."

'I didn't f***ing do it'

Leigh Matthew Beer is on trial at the High Court charged with arson and murder following the death of 21-year-old Emma Field in May 2022. (Source: RNZ / Robin Martin)

In a confrontational cross-examination, defence counsel Julian Hannam said Cook had lied to police about living at the Braemar because he wanted to separate himself from events at Devon St West.

Hannam said Cook knew he was not supposed to be there as part of prison release conditions and he did not want to get locked up again.

He then put it to the gang member that he did not want to be around when someone was found in the house, which Cook denied vigourously.

Hannam then honed in on Cook's criminal past including his 23 years in the Mongrel Mob, outlining some of his 386 convictions some of which involved arson.

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"I did crime in defiance of the law, of course, I'm not going to abide by the law," Cook said.

Hannam pointed out Cook's offending had started with stealing cars and setting them on fire.

"The reason you set things on fire is to get rid of the evidence, fingerprints, DNA, isn't it? the lawyer asked.

"That's not setting houses on fire though," Cook fired back.

Hannam noted Cook also had convictions for burglary and violence, including assaults on women.

"Is that all you've got? Throw something better," Cook countered.

As Hannam began to list the various towns where Cook had offended, Crown prosecutor Cherie Clarke objected saying the point that the witness had numerous convictions had been made.

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Justice Karen Grau agreed saying there had to a limit to the line of questioning and reminded Hannam that Cook was not the defendant.

Hannam then put it to Cook he had left the Braemar climbed the fence and gone into the building on Devon St West.

"You're clutching at straws. Throw something better," said Cook.

"You saw people leaving that building and saw an opportunity to burgle it and took it, didn't you? You've done robbery before, you've done burglary before, you've done arson before," Hannam continued.

"You looked around in there for stuff to nick, didn't you? You went further into the building, into the bedroom, didn't you? You saw a small woman lying there."

An angry Cook interjected.

"I'll stop you right there you f***ing little hobbit. You're implying I did something that I didn't."

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Justice Grau interjected asking Cook to remain calm and answer the questions.

Hannam put to Cook that he had disturbed Field and that she had seen him and he had panicked because she could identify him.

"So you threw the bed over with her on it, didn't you? Then because you know fire gets rid of evidence, you set fire to the bed in that room, didn't you? And then you got out of there as quick as you could."

Hannam said Cook had then bumped into the guy in the red top and pushed on to him two lighters.

"I didn't f***ing do it," Cook retorted. "Get f***ed hobbit."

The trial is in its third week and expected to last about a month.

rnz.co.nz

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