30-year jail term quashed


THE Supreme Court has set aside the 30-year jail sentence on a woman charged with killing a man in Port Moresby in 2011.
Justice Les Gavara-Nanu, Justice Derek Hartshorn and Justice Terence Higgins in Waigani agreed that the sentence handed down on Taita Pritchard, 42, a naturalised Australian citizen originally from Central, be dismissed.
Pritchard was convicted and sentenced by the Waigani National Court on Feb 12 this year over the wilful murder of her former partner John Hulse at Napanapa outside Port Moresby in July 23, 2011.
She was found guilty on Nov 11 last year for planning and using her cousin, James Paru, 35, to willfully murder Hulse.
Justice Hartshorn said the State had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Pritchard had conspired with Paru and procured him to kill Hulse.
“It is not sufficient to show that Paru shot Hulse to death,” Hartshorn said.
He said the only evidence the State had was a confession which was not admissible.
Hartshorn said the telephone records were insufficient to prove that Pritchard was communicating with Paru.
The court heard that Pritchard was convicted only on the evidence of her telephone conversations and the details of text messages from Pritchard’s mobile phone obtained by the prosecution.
The Supreme Court upheld Pritchard’s appeal, and ordered that her conviction and sentence be set aside.

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