Chase death teens await verdict
Tauri Litchfield

Verdicts in the trial of five youths accused of murdering Mandurah man Tauri Litchfield will be handed down next month.

The Perth Children's Court judge hearing the case today heard the final closings from defence lawyers in the case after hearing prosecution closings earlier in the week.

Children's Court president Judge Denis Reynolds said he would hand down the verdict on March 28. The case has run for four weeks.

The five teenagers, the youngest aged 14, are accused of chasing and “herding” Mr Litchfield, 28, after punching him in the face, resulting in him running through traffic and falling or tripping over a ledge and striking his head on bitumen in March last year. He died later that night.

The State is running its murder case under a part of the law that alleges the boys caused Mr Litchfield’s death through an “act” – in this case the chasing - done for an “unlawful purpose” - in this case allegedly to assault him – and that the act was “of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life”.
This law says it is “immaterial that the person did not intend to hurt any person”.


However, the youths also face two alternative charges of manslaughter and “unlawful assault causing death”, for which a person is guilty if their actions “directly or indirectly” result in death even if it was not reasonably foreseeable.


During closing addresses, NSW barrister Scott Corish, representing the youngest boy who is aged 14, said his client was a child and it was a “fact of life that children do not see things as adults”.


Mr Corish said that while the boys caused Mr Litchfield to run, they had no control over the path he chose and did not foresee his life was at risk before the “genuine and tragic accident”.


“Chasing someone is not an act likely to endanger life,” he said.


Mr Corish also said that while the chase caused Mr Litchfield to run, his own decision to change direction and the uncertainty about what happened when he went over a ledge meant there was a gap between the boys’ actions and the tragic outcome that followed.


The prosecution claimed the boys “may have been young but…were not naïve” and had chased Mr Litchfield despite knowing he was endangering his life by fleeing from them and running through traffic.


The judge-alone trial has heard Mr Litchfield was intoxicated and was walking home after a festival when one of the boys tried to take his wallet.


He slapped the child over the ear before being punched and chased.


Charges against a sixth boy were dropped during the trial.

The West Australian

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