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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 06:50 GMT
Guilty verdict on Norfolk Island
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

New Zealander Glenn McNeill (R), age 29, is led from the cells to the courtroom , Feb 2007
McNeill faces a maximum of life in jail
Jurors on remote Norfolk Island have returned a guilty verdict in the first murder trial in the Australian territory for 151 years.

Glenn McNeill, a chef from New Zealand, was convicted of killing 29-year-old restaurant manager Janelle Patton.

She was found stabbed to death on the Pacific island in March 2002 - the first person to be killed there since the territory was settled in 1856.

McNeill now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Isolated community

Outside the tiny courtroom, a small crowd of Norfolk Islanders clapped and cheered when they heard that Glenn McNeill had been found guilty of murder.

The killing of Janelle Patton has weighed heavily on this isolated community of 1,300 people.
Janelle Patton on Norfolk Island in March 2002
The murder shocked the Pacific island community

During McNeill's trial, the jury was told that the chef had confessed to the murder after his arrest last year, and that he admitted to the police that he had accidentally knocked his victim down with his car.

He then panicked and stabbed her to make sure she was dead.

In court McNeill retracted his confession and denied any involvement in the death of Janelle Patton.

He insisted he was mentally exhausted when he was arrested, and had told the police "complete rubbish."

Prosecutors painted a very different picture. They explained to the jury that the defendant had carried out a violent and sustained attack on a young woman who had fought desperately to escape.

Map showing Norfolk Island
The islanders will be relieved the trial is finally over. Many are descendants of the Bounty mutineers, who seized control of the British warship in the late 1700s.

Norfolk Island is a self-governing Australian territory.

The former penal colony lies about 2,000 km ( 1,250 miles) north-east of Sydney in the South Pacific Ocean.

The murder of Janelle Patton has been the darkest moment in its recent history.


SEE ALSO
Norfolk Island murder trial opens
01 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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