BOP murder accused found not guilty
A jury in Tauranga has found Harry Matchitt not guilty of murdering 77-year-old Brian Hilton, but guilty of manslaughter.
Hilton was found lying on the floor of his Ōpōtiki home on the morning of July 8, 2016, with facial injuries. He was taken to Tauranga Hospital, where he later died on July 13.
Police originally thought Hilton died after a fall at home but later received new information and reopened the investigation into his death.
In 2018, police arrested Matchitt and charged him with Hilton’s murder.
The 52-year-old pleaded not guilty.
The Crown presented a case that alleged Matchitt violently assaulted Hilton on the night of July 7, 2016, causing severe injuries that left him unconscious and later led to his death.
The defence said Matchitt did not assault Hilton and did not cause the injuries that led to his death, and raised the possibility that it could have been another man, who has name suppression.
In the High Court at Tauranga on Tuesday, at 12.30pm, the jury of 10 men and two women returned a verdict of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.
Matchitt will be sentenced on September 17.