First Norfolk Island murderer in a century found guilty

Friday, March 9, 2007

The first murderer in 150 years on Australia's Norfolk Island, Glenn McNeill, has been found guilty of killing restaurant owner Janelle Patton in 2002 on Easter Sunday.

A 29-year-old New Zealand chef, Glenn McNeill was found guilty of murdering Australian Janelle Patton after the jury of 11 deliberated for two days, then delivered their guilty verdict, which either had to be unanimous, or no charges as manslaughter was not an option.

In the five week Supreme Court trial, evidence was given that said that 29-year-old Ms Patton had been abducted, then bashed, then stabbed, and then hacked to death. She sustained 64 different injuries in the prolonged attack. It was also said that the attack had sexual motives.

Outside the court room, around 11 residents of Norfolk Island cheered as it was announced that Mr McNeill had been found guilty. The forewoman of five-woman, seven-man jury, said, "We find the accused guilty of murder," which didn't result in any change by Mr McNeill.

When first being interviewed by New Zealand police in Nelson for two hours, Mr McNeill admitted to the murder by running Ms.Patton over and stabbing her under the influence of cannabis. He then later retracted that in an unsigned court statement, stating mental health problems. "I did not murder Janelle Patton."

Her body was found wrapped partially in plastic wrap at a picnic/nature reserve, with her underpants pulled down.

Her underpants being pulled down was used in Mr McNeill's defence saying that the attack was done by a woman, and the underwear was to try and throw the police off the correct path.

Mr McNeill will be sentenced at a later date.

An appeal is being considered, with Mr McNeill's lawyer stating significant grounds.