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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 09:39 GMT
Norfolk Island murder trial opens
Janelle Patton on Norfolk Island in March 2002
The murder shocked the Pacific island community
A New Zealand man has gone on trial on remote Norfolk Island, charged with the first murder there in 150 years.

Glenn McNeill, a former chef, pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering 29-year-old Australian restaurant manager Janelle Patton.

Patton was found stabbed to death on the Pacific island in March 2002.

The murder shocked the community of 1,800 people - many of whom are descendants of the mutineers on the British warship The Bounty.

The community is so closely-knit that the judge at McNeill's trial decided to close the court to the media and public while it heard legal arguments and began selecting a 12-person jury.

Map showing Norfolk Island

"Given the circumstances on the island, the fact that virtually everybody knows everybody, there would be a risk that a potential member of the jury might hear something that they ought not to hear," Judge Mark Weinberg told reporters.

McNeill was arrested last February at his home in Nelson, on New Zealand's South Island. He is accused of killing Patton and leaving her body with broken bones and stab wounds near a local waterfall.

He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Norfolk Island is an Australian territory situated about 1,900 km (1,180 miles) north-east of Sydney.

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