A court in Brisbane has heard that accused killer Gable Tostee might as well have pushed his TInder date Warriena Wright from his balcony to her death, such was the young woman’s fear for her life on the fateful night that they met.
In his closing statements to the jury in Tostee’s murder trial yesterday, prosecutor Glen Cash QC said that audio recordings of Wright’s final moments betray “terror bordering on hysteria” as she is forced onto the defendant’s balcony.
It is alleged that, in August 2014, Tostee and Wright met and exchanged messages after matching on Tinder, but a date at his Gold Coast apartment led to a violent altercation, and ended with the New Zealand tourist falling to her death.
The prosecution conceded that Wright “probably” unlawfully assaulted Tostee by throwing rocks at him and attempting to hit him with a telescope, but that Tostee effectively turned the tables, and that his subsequent use of force was unreasonable.
In the audio recordings played to the court earlier this week, Wright can be heard crying “no, no, no” and pleading to go home as Tostee forces her onto the balcony of his 14th floor apartment, without her belongings or phone.
Wright fell to her death while attempting to climb down from the balcony, and prosecutor Cash told the Supreme Court that her actions were attributable to fear – fear for her life, and fear of what might happen if she were to be allowed back inside the apartment.
Cash said that, in the moment, Wright was faced with two options:
“One was to try and go back into the apartment, to go back through where Gable Tostee was, to have to engage with the man who on the crown case had violently restrained her. The man who had just told her in response to her begging to be permitted to go home that he would not let her do so because she had been in his words ‘a bad girl’. In light of what he had done and what she feared he would do, what then was her only reasonable and rational option in those circumstances? The only remaining option … is to attempt to climb down the balcony to escape Gable Tostee.”
At the closing of his remarks, Cash told the jury that, if they were persuaded that Tostee’s conduct instilled sufficient fear in Wright that she felt she had no option but to climb over his balcony, then he caused her death as much as if he’d actually pushed her.
Tostee himself did not take the stand in his trial, and he did not call any witnesses. Addressing the jury, however, defence barrister Saul Holt QC said that Wright’s response was disproportionate, and the “decision” to climb to her death was hers alone.
To prove murder in Queensland, the prosecution must show an intention to either kill or do grievous bodily harm, and Holt said that the prosecution had not satisfied this element.
Holt told the jury that the audio evidence demonstrates that Tostee responded to wright’s “increasingly erratic” on the night in a “perfectly appropriate” way, and that he locked her on his balcony in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
“Gable Tostee was lawfully permitted to restrain Ms Wright because she attacked him with rocks … he was acting to remove a disorderly person from his property and the law says you can do that,” he told the jury..
“Locking her on the balcony, shutting and locking the door was an act of de-escalation … to intervene, an act that created safety, in essence, for both of them.”
“That sequence of events is a desperate tragedy but it is not murder and it is not manslaughter,” Holt told the jury. “Just because somebody is dead does not in itself mean someone is criminally responsible for that death.”
The jury is expected to begin its deliberations next week.
Source: ABC News.
Photo: Queensland Police Service.