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Retrial begins in Whangārei for murder-accused Samuel Pou

NZ Herald
By Shannon Pitman, Open Justice multimedia journalist, Whangārei of

Warning: This article discusses domestic violence and may be upsetting to some readers.

Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial for the murder of Bridget Simmonds in June 2021.
Samuel Hemuera Pou on trial for the murder of Bridget Simmonds in June 2021 at the Whangārei High Court. Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

The retrial of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend Bridget Simmonds by punching her up to 100 times has begun.

Samuel Pou, of Otāngarei, is on trial in the Whangārei High Court, before a jury of eight men and four women sworn in before Justice Tracey Walker, accused of the 2019 murder of Simmons, who was reported missing by a community health nurse.

The jury was advised this is a retrial and warned by Justice Walker not to make assumptions as to the reasons why and base their verdicts on the evidence presented in court.

Simmonds was dropped off by her mother at the Regent Countdown in Whangārei on 23 February, 2019, and reported missing on 6 March, 2019, after her family had not heard from her for about two weeks.

Police converged on the 20ha block of land on Wilson Rd, 40km west of Whangārei, 15 months later, after new information came to light that caused investigators to believe foul play was involved in the disappearance of the mother of two.

Her skeletal remains were found on 12 June, 2020, in a shallow grave, about 100 metres away from a makeshift tent Pou had set up on Wilson Rd.

Bridget Simmonds.
Bridget Simmonds had been in a relationship with Pou prior to her death. Photo: Supplied

Crown lawyer Mike Smith opened to the jury on Monday morning and said Pou delivered 100 blows to Simmonds and her remains had multiple fractures, including one to the wrist, indicating she had tried to defend herself.

"She had fractures to her lower limbs which meant she couldn't run away even if she tried and she suffered from those blows for an amount of time," Smith said.

"He beat her, she died from this beating."

The Crown will produce an evidential interview with Pou admitting to beating Simmonds, focusing on her legs and then throwing her into a shallow grave, wrapped in a distinctive blanket and covered with leaves.

Pou would then walk the campsite with police, leading them to the area where Simmonds was buried.

The Crown said the relationship had a history of violence, with Simmonds suffering a sliced ear and gouged eye months prior from two separate beatings inflicted by Pou.

Pou is being led by a defence team of Arthur Fairley, Julie Young and Mathew Ridgley who argue Pou did not have murderous intent when he beat Simmonds.

"This is a harrowing case make no mistake about it ... Mr Pou has not conducted with glory in this case, his conduct with partners is appalling ... He did not mean to do it," Fairley said in his opening to the jury.

"At this time, when he was beating her, did he have murderous intent? That is the issue."

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

- This story originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald.

Shannon Pitman is a Whangārei based reporter for Open Justice covering courts in the Te Tai Tokerau region. She is of Ngāpuhi/Ngātiwai/Ngāti Pūkenga descent and has worked freelance in digital media for the past five years. She joined NZME in 2023.

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