Four men accused of murder plead not guilty

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All four men jointly accused of murdering dairy worker Justin Conrad McFarlane, at his Elderslie home on September 11, have pleaded not guilty.

They appeared before Justice Graham Panckhurst (sitting in Christchurch) via a video-conference link from the High Court at Dunedin on Tuesday.

Steven Kenneth Boskell (18), Jacob Christopher Geary-Smart (22), Ryan Warren Geary-Smart (23), and Robert James Cummings (22), stood together in the dock and were flanked by four guards from the Otago Corrections Facility.

It is likely a case review for those jointly accused will be delayed by the Crown, as police continue to investigate the 35-year-old’s death.

On Tuesday, the men said nothing while their lawyers entered pleas on their behalf.

Justice Panckhurst asked for plea indications on Tuesday, as well as any updates from counsel.

Crown solicitor Andrew McRae, of Timaru, said the police investigation of Mr McFarlane’s death was ongoing and it might be difficult to make full disclosure to counsel before a case review, which was set to be held in Dunedin on December 3.

“It may be the case that the Crown will be applying to extend those timelines. I’ll know more today when I meet with police, but I understand it’s still an ongoing investigation and there’s a wealth of material that still needs to be disclosed to counsel in a timely fashion,” he said.

Interim name suppression orders for Jacob Geary-Smart and Cummings were lifted by Justice Panckhurst, after Judith Ablett-Kerr QC and Anne Stevens said they would not apply for continued suppression of their respective clients’ names.

John Westgate said he had applied for Boskell to be remanded on electronically-monitored bail, the hearing for which was set to be in Dunedin on October 25.

David More said he also planned to apply for electronically-monitored bail for Ryan Geary-Smart, and he would endeavour to do so in time for his application to be heard at the same time.

No other bail applications were discussed.

Justice Panckhurst remanded all four accused in custody to December 3.

– APNZ