Defence opens case in Zane Tarapata double murder trial

Zarn Tarapata was acting on God's instructions when he killed two men, a court has heard.

David White

Zarn Tarapata was acting on God’s instructions when he killed two men, a court has heard.

The lawyers for Zarn Tarapata have opened their case by telling the jury their client was ‘deeply’ unwell when he killed two men at their workplace in July 2014. 

Paul Matthews, 47, and Paul Fanning, 69, were eating noodles in the lunchroom at Ezy Cash on Great South Road in Takanini, south Auckland when Tarapata entered and began his frenzied  attack. 

In the space of three minutes Fanning was stabbed six times around the head and chest, while Matthews was stabbed 15 times in similar areas, and also had his throat cut.

Police at the scene where Paul Matthews and Paul Fanning lost their lives.

Anna Loren

Police at the scene where Paul Matthews and Paul Fanning lost their lives.

Following his arrest, Tarapata, 27, told police and medical professionals he killed the men because God had told him to. 

Killer blamed God for attack on men
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His High Court trial began last week in Auckland, with the Crown arguing Tarapata was not legally insane when he committed the crime. 

Defence lawyer Julia Spelman opened Tarapata’s case by saying he was in fact insane and did not understand that what he was doing was morally wrong. 

“He was deeply, deep, unwell,” she said. 

“He was suffering from Schizophrenia to such an extent he did not understand what he was doing was morally wrong. He thought what he was doing was morally right.” 

Defence witness Dr Jeremy Skipworth, a psychiatrist, told the court Tarapata had also disclosed following his arrest he had received messages from number plates and flashing lights. 

Skipworth said he was confident Tarapata had Schizophrenia and met the test for insanity when he killed the pair. 

“It is my understanding that in the time period leading up to the homicides Mr Tarapata was psychotic, he was paranoid, he feared for his safety and for his children and partner,” he said. 

“He was communicating with God through reading the bible and performing sacrifices.

“He would go and purchase lamb, he would burn it and pray to God to receive directions. Some of those directions came to him direct through the bible, other directions came directly from God through hearing the voice of God.”

Skipworth said Tarapata believed Matthews and Fanning were having an affair with his partner, who worked at the Pawn Shop. 

“In the time period immediately before, a day or so  before the killings, he was commanded by God to kill Paul Matthews and Paul Fanning,” he said.  

“On the day of the homicides he travelled to the Ezy Cash store having previously being commanded by God to do so.

“He questioned God about whether he needed to kill them. He was told by God he needed to kill them for their sins against his partner.” 

It will be up to the jury to determine if Tarapata is not guilty by reason of insanity, or whether he is guilty of the killings. 

 – Stuff

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