Piopio home invasion: Father and son not guilty on all charges

By Belinda Feek, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald

A jury has found a Piopio father and son not guilty of an attack that saw the tip of a teen burglar’s little finger chopped off in a bungled home invasion.

High Court in Hamilton

The High Court in Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

William “Bill” Burr and son, Shaun, were found not guilty on all charges by a jury in the High Court at Hamilton this afternoon.

The pair were found not guilty on charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, or wounding with intent to injure in the alternative in relation to attacking the boy with a stick as he lay on the floor.

They also faced a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm or maiming with intent to injure after chopping off the tip of the boy’s little finger.

Burr senior faced extra charges of assaulting a woman, for kicking the teen girl in the head on the floor and injuring with intent to injure for allegedly stomping on the back of the boy as he lay on the floor.

The jury of three women and nine men spent 45 minutes deliberating yesterday before retiring and resuming at 10.40am today.

They returned with their unanimous verdicts at 3.45pm in front of a packed public gallery of the Burr family and supporters.

The teen boy had the tip of his little finger chopped off by the pair after he and his girlfriend broke into Burr senior’s home about 1.45am on 1 October, 2020.

The Crown said it was aggressive violence with the pair acting out of revenge for what the teen had put Burr senior through that night and in previous burglaries.

The defence contended the situation was far from being under control and the teen constantly posed a threat as he lay with a knife on the floor.

Before the verdicts were read, nervous family waited anxiously as Shaun Burr’s partner held their children and wept silently.

The father and son returned to the packed public gallery after being discharged, to hugs and handshakes.

“Oh my God, not guilty,” one family member uttered.

There were tears and congratulations as the group waited for Justice Powell to discharge the jury.

‘What happened?’

For the past six days, the jury has heard detailed accounts about what is alleged to have happened inside the Napinapi Rd home.

King Country farmer William Burr, known as Bill, had three times been the victim of the burglar – each time he broke into Burr’s home to get the keys for his car from his Te Mapara home.

This time, fuelled with bourbon and cannabis, the 17-year-old took his then-girlfriend – both of whom have name suppression due to their age at the time – to Burr’s house in the early hours.

The teen had been bailed to an Auckland property on charges from a burglary of Burr’s home the week before and was driven down by his girlfriend’s cousins.

The pair went into Burr senior’s bedroom after being unable to find the keys elsewhere in the house.

There, the teen girl hit him over the head; she would say once, he says twice, and a fight erupted lasting approximately eight minutes.

Burr snr then managed to turn the light on and said he’d give up, and hand over the keys which he told the boy were on top of the microwave.

He sat exhausted on the end of the bed, naked, next to the teen girl. He told her he was going to put on some clothes and she left.

He testified that it was then he grabbed his shotgun from his ensuite, marched down the hallway, and pointed it at the pair as they stood in the kitchen.

They both immediately dropped to the floor and Burr snr said he set about calling various people, including 111, his son, his neighbour, and local police constable Tony Schrafft.

Shaun Burr arrived and it was then he set about striking the teen, on instruction from his father, as he believed he was trying to get up off the ground.

Burr junior struck him with one “beautiful” punch, he said, which sent him to the floor.

Burr snr says there were then multiple occasions where the boy was lashing out and trying to stand up, as he held a knife which he feared was going to be used on them.

Annoyed that he kept getting up, he says he warned the boy that if he didn’t show his left hand that he would cut it off.

Still refusing to put both hands out in front of him, he asked Burr jnr to cut him, to which he made a small cut to his finger.

The boy still refused to show his hands and it’s then that Burr snr instructed his son to chop it off – which Burr jnr did.

What about the burglars?

The teen girl was uninjured in the ruckus, while the boy was airlifted to Waikato Hospital that morning.

After being treated for injuries he was discharged two days later.

The pair were also charged by police; the boy was arrested and convicted of aggravated burglary. His girlfriend was dealt with by Youth Aid and went through a family group conference.

Both had automatic name suppression due to their age at the time of the offending.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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