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NZ: Guilty of rape, murder (Auckland)

Publish Date: 01 Nov 2011
Source: Fairfax NZ /
By: Ian Steward

Steven Ellis, 29, has been found guilty of the murder of 43-year-old English expatriate Jacqueline Blackbourn. Photo/Fairfax

Man found guilty of murdering girlfriend

An Auckland man has been found guilty of raping and murdering his former girlfriend.

The jury in the trial of Steven Ellis, 29, for the murder of 43-year-old English expatriate Jacqueline Blackbourn, returned its unanimous verdict at 4.30pm after deliberating for five hours in the High Court at Auckland.

Ellis had already pleaded guilty to one charge of arson for setting a fire under Blackbourn's bed, though he said it was a suicide attempt.

The Crown said Ellis refused to accept that his two-year relationship with Blackbourn was over and he had been relentless in his attempts to get her back, texting her 700 times in two months.

He also turned to self-harm to get her attention and enlisted a friend to ''champion'' his cause.

The pair remained in contact after their early 2010 split, even engaging in consensual sex, however, Blackbourn had met someone new and told a mutual friend that she wanted to move on.

The Crown argued that on June 26, 2010, after Blackbourn had ignored his texts, Ellis drove to her house intending to kill her.

The Crown said he raped, strangled and stabbed his former girlfriend to death before setting her on fire to ''destroy any evidence of what he'd done''.

Ellis testified that he had consensual sex with Blackbourn and she had been accidentally stabbed when they later had a fight and she came at him with a knife.

Ellis said she sustained a knife wound to the torso and died from that - he described hearing her last breath and checking her pulse twice.

He said that was the only wound she received but a pathologist told the court a neck wound was the fatal blow.

The Crown also relied on a suicide note Ellis had written.

He tried to commit suicide three times in jail and wrote in his last suicide note that he had "taken Ms Blackbourn's life not knowing what had come over him".

Ellis said that was not what he meant.

He said he felt genuinely responsible for the death, for going round there and starting the sequence of events.

Justice Courtenay remanded Ellis in custody to December 7 for sentencing.

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited