Denver Chance murder accused feared being shot, lawyer tells court

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Jay Lingman, accused of murdering Auckland man Denver Chance, says he shot the man because he feared for his life.

Photographs from outside the cordon at the crime scene in Kingseat.

The scene at the time of the killing in 2019. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Lingman is on trial in the High Court at Auckland charged with the murder of Chance at the defendant’s rural property in Kingseat, south of Auckland, in 2019.

Lingman has pleaded not guilty to Chance’s murder, but has pleaded guilty to three charges of possession of drugs for supply.

The Crown argues the accused shot Chance three times in the head from behind, before using a chainsaw to cut the body to fit it in the freezer.

Today, Jay Lingman gave evidence in his own defence.

The court was told he began dealing drugs in 2011 as a way to dig himself out of significant debt after his business failed.

He said he met Chance at a pub and began buying MDMA and cocaine off him to sell on.

Lingman would sell drugs on tick – where a dealer gives product to a trusted customer before being paid later when the drugs had been sold by the middleman.

The shooting came after Chance asked Lingman if he could store a large quantity of MDMA and cocaine in his gun safe, located in Lingman’s shed, while he went overseas.

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The defendant said he sold some of this while Chance was away.

Lingman said he intended to replace what he took, but on 24 February 2019 Chance returned to Lingman’s property unannounced to find his stash had been dipped into.

The defendant said he was not expecting him to visit and was in the kitchen getting a drink when he heard someone yell his name out.

He said Chance was standing at the front door, angry and armed with a shotgun.

Lingman said he tried to placate him and lie to Chance he had his money, but it did not work.

The accused told the court he went to his bedroom and armed himself with a Ruger 10/22 .22 semi-automatic rifle for self-defence before walking around the side of the house.

He saw Chance at the front door, where Chance swore at him and raised his shotgun.

Lingman said he then raised his gun, shut his eyes and shot a volley of about six shots.

“I didn’t have a clue where [the bullets] were going.”

He said he wanted to incapacitate him so he would not be shot, as he did not expect to survive if Chance fired the shot gun.

“It would’ve taken my head off.”

The accused said he then poked Chance’s body with the rifle to see if he was alive.

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When asked by his defence lawyer about how he felt about shooting Chance, he said “not very good.”

“[There] were so many different emotions in my head. Fear, adrenaline still coming through me. [What] snapped me out of it was [thinking], ‘what am I going to do’.”

Opening the defence case, Ron Mansfield told the jury there was no dispute that Lingman had shot a number of bullets at Chance, including the three that hit him in the head and killed him.

He said there was also no dispute that Lingman purchased a chest freezer and used a chainsaw to fit the body in it to cover up what happened.

“It was desperate and dire, and the scene displays that,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield said there had been no evidence on why Chance had been at Lingman’s house and what had gone wrong.

He said Lingman sought out a supply of the anxiety medication Diazepam following the shooting and attempted to keep life as normal as possible for his family.

The trial continues.

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