Samuel Pou is facing one charge of murder in the High Court at Whangārei. Photo / Tania Whyte
WARNING: This article discusses domestic violence and may be upsetting to some readers.
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 for the murder that occurred in 2019 after Simmonds 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 February 23, 2019, and reported missing on March 6, 2019, after her family hadn’t 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 June 12, 2020, in a shallow grave, about 100 metres away from a makeshift tent Pou had set up on Wilson Rd.
Crown lawyer Mike Smith opened to the jury this 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.
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.