Grace Millane murder trial: The key players in court

Grace Millane murder trial: The key players in court

Some of the country's top legal minds will gather in the same courtroom for the trial of the man accused of murdering Grace Millane.

The man, whose name is suppressed, will face a trial at the High Court in Auckland from November 4.

He is charged with murdering the British backpacker in Auckland in December 2018.

Here is a round-up of the key players in court.

Justice Simon Moore was once the Pitcairn Public Prosecutor at the trial of 12 men charged with historical sexual abuse.

Justice Simon Moore is the presiding judge. His job is to direct the jurors on question of law. Justice Moore served for 20 years as the Auckland Crown solicitor.

As a prosecutor, the QC took on a number of high-profile cases while also fulfilling the leadership role at his firm, Meredith Connell. 

In 2000 the British government appointed him public prosecutor for Pitcairn Island and four years later he travelled to the remote Pacific island where he led the prosecution against 12 men for historical sexual offending.

He was the Crown prosecutor at the 2009 trials of samurai sword attacker Antonie Dixon, corrupt MP Taito Phillip Field and the father of the dead Kahui twins, Chris Kahui.

Justice Moore became a judge of the High Court in 2014 and has already presided over some important cases, including the trial of the paedophile rugby coach, Alosio Taimo and the sentencing of Brownie Harding, who was part of the country's largest P lab operation.

Auckland Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey will head up the prosecution team. 

Dickey was admitted to the bar in 1990. The following year he prosecuted his first trial in the High Court at Rotorua, at the age of 22.

Since then he has represented the Crown in both criminal and civil matters.

When mutiple finance companies collapsed in the mid-2000s, Dickey almost lived at the High Court in Auckland where he prosecuted Bridgecorp bosses Rod Pitricevic and Rob Roest, Five Star finance company de-facto director Neill Williams and Nathans Finance directors Mervyn Doolan and Kenneth Moses.

Dickey has also prosecuted a large number of serious sexual violence cases and murders.

In 2017, Dickey prosecuted the group convicted of the kidnapping and attempted murder of a woman who was left at Dome Valley with a caved-in skull.

Recently, he also prosecuted Aaron Archer who was found guilty of causing the death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter in Mangawhai.

Dickey will be helped by Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey. 

McCoubry began his career in England before moving out to New Zealand in 2008. Since then he has prosecuted serious crime.

In 2015, McCoubrey prosecuted Mandeep Singh who stabbed his wife to death at an English language college on Queen St.

He was the lead prosecutor at the trial of Stuart Murray Wilson – the rapist known as the Beast of Blenheim – in 2018. Wilson had been on parole and living in the grounds of Whanganui Prison shortly before the trial. The convictions meant he was sent back to a cell.

McCoubrey also represented the Crown at the 2018 sentencing of Martin Lawes, the former Takapuna community board chairman who live-streamed the sexual abuse of children.

Litia Tuiburelevu will be the junior counsel doing the grunt work behind the scenes for the Crown. Tuiburelevu works in the proceeds of crime unit, preparing cases that seek to hit criminals in their pockets.

Fierce advocate Ian Brookie will head the defence team. He began his criminal law career as a Crown prosecutor. 

While with the Crown, he prosecuted criminal cases such as that of Haranui David Selwyn Harris, who terrorised his partner with domestic abuse that included knocking her teeth out with a hammer.

He has also done regulatory work, representing Worksafe during the prosecution of pyrotechnic company Van Thiel. The company was in charge of a fireworks display at a 2014 All Blacks test match at Eden Park which injured spectators.

As a defence lawyer, Brookie was part of the legal team that represented Stephen Borlase, a director of road engineering company Projenz. Borlase was convicted of corruption and bribery of a council roading manager in 2017.

Brookie was also part of the legal team that defended James Grant Cooper in 2013. Cooper was charged with the murder of his friend Javed Mills, who died after Cooper hit him in the head.

Cooper then buried his friend's body under a sleep-out before exhuming it a year later, putting the bones in a wheelie bin and leaving it at an abandoned house down the road.

He was found guilty of manslaughter.

Mansfield is known for his vigorous advocacy and has represented everyone from Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom to senior Naval officer, Alfred Harold Keating, who hid a secret camera in the loo at New Zealand's Washington DC embassy.

He has also defended high-profile murder trials, including Amandeep Kaur. Kaur and her secret lover conspired to murder her husband, Davender Singh, by repeatedly stabbing him and making it appear like a robbery gone wrong.

Mansfield also defended Shivneel Kumar, who burned Auckland man Shalvin Prasad to death before spending Prasad's life savings.

He has also run other high-profile cases including defending Leo Gao, the man known as "the runaway millionaire". Gao sparked an international manhunt when Westpac accidentally transferred $10 million into the failing petrol station owner's account and he and his partner fled the country.

Mansfield also has a social conscience, defending the protesters who occupied Aotea Square in 2011 and Greenpeace activists who illegally boarded an oil supply ship in 2018.

He also spoke out during the 2018 court staff strike action. The then-district court chief judge recommended court breaks be taken to coincide with court staff strike action, thereby potentially diluting the effect of the action.

Mansfield opposed the move and said it effectively pitted lawyers against the court staff.

Brookie will also be assisted by Claire Farquhar. Farquhar often appears in court with Brookie and works behind the scenes, drafting court documents and researching case law.